Summary from Amazon:
A young man is found dead in his bed, with a look of extreme agony on his face and strange tattoos all over his body. His distraught senator father suspects foul play, and knows who to call on.
Enter Felix the Fox, a professional investigator. In the business of ferreting out dark information for his clients, Felix is neither a traditional detective nor a traditional magician – but something in between. Drawing on his experience of dealing with the shady elements of society and his aborted education in the magical arts, Felix dons his toga and sets out to discover the young man’s killers.
Murder in Absentia is set in a fantasy world. The city of Egretia borrows elements from a thousand years of ancient Roman culture, from the founding of Rome to the late empire, mixed with a judicious amount of magic. This is a story of a cynical, hardboiled detective dealing with anything from daily life to the old forces roaming the world.
This is a story of Togas, Daggers and Magic - it will appeal to lovers of murder mysteries, ancient Rome and fantasy.
It's a paranormal investigator... In a toga?
Yes, it is. And it couldn't be more brilliant. Felix is an ex-soldier, a wizard-college dropout, and whenever something is going on that people can't explain, his friends know who to call, and they can depend on Felix to do whatever it takes to solve the mystery.
My favorite part was the vivid culture Mehr weaves into his story. It is undeniably heavily vested in Ancient Rome and all its terminology, but also taken to an alternate world, centered on the nation of Egretia and the surrounding islands. The social classes, the practices, the character names—even the food dishes were described in such rich detail, but not too much, that I experienced it all as I read. Magic fit seamlessly into this world as a matter of academic study, with some possessing an aptitude and considered "blessed by the spirits", and the rest of the population merely lacking that skill.
Not only was the setting and characters and all the concepts they addressed very well thought out, but it makes a fascinating thriller as well! The process of investigation, the clues and the misdirects, the twists and the moments of peril were all poignant and aptly timed to drove the plot forward. I giggled, I gasped; I cringed at moments, and puzzled over others. I had a fantastic experience reading this book, and I am definitely looking forward to this series continuing. Paranormal investigators are a common vehicle with their own set of tropes and popular themes; throwing the investigator into a context without any of the modern conveniences is a bold, unique move that succeeds in a marvelous way.
"Murder in Absentia" absolutely wins a *****5 STAR***** rating, and I would add an Upstream Writer Certified DEFINITELY RECOMMENDED. If you love a good paranormal investigation and are looking for a new series to become obsessed with, "Murder in Absentia" is here to provide satisfaction and entertainment from the first page to the last!