Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T.A. Willberg
Publication Date: December 29, 2020
Summary from NetGalley:
The letter was short. A name, a time, a place.
Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.
Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant for Miss Brickett’s named Michelle White receives a letter warning her that a heinous act is about to occur. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see—her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.
Almost unwillingly, Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself being drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and mentor is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie—style locked-room mystery with an exciting new heroine detective at the helm.
ARC provided by Harlequin/Park Row via NetGalley for an honest review.
From the very start I was totally engaged in this slightly steampunk, slightly James Bond meets Miss Marple, twisty tale. This is a wonderful debut and I am so hoping that we will see more of Marion and the other inquirers soon.
Marion Lane is a character that I think many people will be able to relate too. She is at the point in her life, where she really isn’t sure of herself and what she wants to do. Even though she wants to be a part of Miss Brickett’s Investigations, she has her doubts that she will be good at it. But she keeps her head up and continues to carry on, even when things are not going her way. She is smart and handy with mechanical things, and even though she says she is bad at puzzles she is actually quite good at them. I think she will prove to be a great investigator.
There are many other people that Marion interacts with, but we don’t really get to know many of them well. There are two men, that she works with that might become love interests in future stories, but not in this one. I did like the relationship she had with Frank, the investigator that brings her into the company, he has a fatherly affection for her and they both care about each other very much. I hope that if there are future installments that we get to know some of the other characters better.
This is definitely a plot driven story. And it is quite the plot! Lots of twists and turns and mysterious maps and clues that will keep you on your toes. I loved the world the author has developed here. A sort of alternate London in the 1950’s. There are all sorts of James Bond like gadgets that are fun to read about and that prove helpful to Marion when she needs them.
The writing is solid, although things did get a little murky in the middle of the story. Some of the secondary characters could have used a bit more depth to them, but this is something that could be developed in later books.
Even though I keep mentioning later books, there are none on the horizon that I know about. This really feels like it needs to be a series though, such a fun character and a great setting. I hope to see more of Marion Lane in the future.