Book 59 of 2015: The Deathsniffer’s Assistant by Kate McIntyre

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The Deathsniffer’s Assistant is a fantasy novel with a unique pseudo-Edwardian setting and a murder mystery twist. What’s not to love about floating castles, eccentric lady detectives, and a protagonist who judges everyone by the quality of their shoes!
After losing his parents in the Floating Castle Incident, the sensitive and mannered Chris Buckley has spent six years raising his magically talented little sister, Rosemary. They have been living on the savings that his once-wealthy family left behind. That money is drying up, and Chris finds himself with no choice but to seek out work in Darrington City as it spirals into a depression. The only employer willing to consider his empty résumé is O. Faraday, the manic Deathsniffer. Faraday’s special magical gift is a heightened intuition which is invaluable in hunting down murderers.
When a Duchess calls on Olivia to solve the mystery of her dead husband, Chris finds himself tangled in Faraday’s daily life and unable to extract himself from the macabre questions of the investigation. His involvement grows more complicated as political forces close around Rosemary. They only see her as a tool that can be used to end the depression at the cost of her freedom—or even her life.
Chris must juggle the question of who killed Viktor val Daren with the responsibility of keeping Rosemary and her magic safe from those who would use her up and toss her aside. Worst of all, he begins to learn that the national disaster that took his parents’ lives may not have been the accident it seemed.
Set in a world very similar to 1900s London, The Deathsniffer’s Assistant combines the investigative murder mystery with a tale of personal and societal redemption. It is about the relationships between broken people who clash more often than not, but manage to shape and learn from one another in spite of this. The story is told from the perspective of Christopher Buckley, young and impressionable and influenced by the prejudices of his time, as he finds himself surrounded by a cast of exceptional women whose differing characters will slowly reconstruct his understanding of strength in others—and in himself.

I will start this review by saying that I received this book through the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for an honest review.

The Deathsniffer’s Assistant intrigued me the moment I read the blurb. I love fantasy and I love mysteries. Add in that it has a turn of the century feel and I was sold.

The first thing to note about the book is that there is a broad magic system involved. However, it isn’t difficult to comprehend. The names of each person pretty much says what they are able to do. For instance, sumfinders find sums. They are accountants, bookies, loan sharks, etc. Wordweavers weave words; they are the writers, the office workers, secretaries, etc. In this sense, the magic didn’t fly over my head and confuse me. I didn’t feel like I needed a glossary (unlike the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson).

The author basically puts you right into the world and into the life of Christopher Buckley, a young man trying to support his sister and keep his family legacy. He’s a wordweaver, which isn’t the best of categorizations, but he’s good at his job. He worries about his image to society, he is constantly trying to figure out what is the best thing to say (even if he doesn’t agree), and he wants to keep his sister safe. I related to him the best. I’m like Christopher . . . well, except for his reason of keeping his sister safe. That isn’t a problem of mine.

Christopher does find a job with a Deathsniffer. A Deathsniffer is a branch of Truthsniffer. As you can guess, Truthsniffers are the police or private investigators of Tarland (the world in the book). A Deathsniffer is a fancy word for saying homicide detective or person who only deals in mysteries that involve death/murder. Olivia Faraday is one of the best and she’s Christopher’s boss.

If you need a little idea of her personality, I would peg her like Sherlock Holmes. Don’t worry though, she does have her own little niche. She’s not just a female Sherlock. She does have issues with societal ways, but instead of being awkward about it, she just ignores it. She wears frilly things that don’t make you think “I work with the dead.” She reminds me of the “crazy” category in Sims 2.

The main mystery was fairly easy to figure out once I hit 50% in. I had a feeling I knew who the killer was, but I was incorrect as to why the killer killed. However, the murder mystery wasn’t what really intrigued me. In the midst of the homicide, there is also a political war going on. There are factions going against each other and Christopher’s sister may be the key to it all.

McIntyre was able to weave a mystery while still making the world believeable. She left hints that there is more than what we are seeing and shows it through Christopher’s actions and story. I can’t wait to read more to see what is going on. Is there something more to Christopher than a Wordweaver? What happened to the Floating Castle? How is Olivia and Christopher’s relationship going to grow? These are all questions that aren’t answered in this book. Luckily, there should be more in the works… at least whenever I see “#1”, I instantly think series.

The Deathsniffer’s Assistant is a good fantasy/mystery that makes you want more. It has humor, awkward characters, and I honestly found every bit of it enjoyable. I can’t wait to see what Kate McIntyre has in store with the Deathsniffer and her Assistant.

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