I really was not sure if I would love this one as much as I did. I liked the premise and thought this whole secret world sounded captivating, but steampunk is not my thing and neither is fantasy. But history definitely is. Luckily, the elements of each genre blended together in an incredible way and I will be reading the next one as soon as it is out.
Readers are immediately immersed in the world of late 1950s London. But it is a different kind of world than you might expect, as far beneath the busy city streets a detective agency cloaked in secrecy exists, aiding citizens who the police can not help. This group of detectives and investigators-in-raining work for Miss Brickett's Investigations and Inquiries and were specifically recruited for employment.
Late one evening Michelle White, a filing assistant whose career path never took her on the Investigator trajectory, receives a letter indicating a terrible crime will occur. She heeds the warning in the letter and sets off to find out what is going on, only to be murdered at midnight. Given that the murder occurred within the confines of the agency, it is clear from the start that the murderer works there. Suddenly EVERYONE is a suspect.
Enter Marion Lane, in her first year with the agency. She is still in training to become an Inquirer but is sucked into the mayhem when her mentor is framed for White's murder. She knows he is innocent and sets out to prove it.
I loved the world-building here - a sentence I never thought I would ever type. The entrance to Miss Brickett's is located beneath a trapdoor in a bookshop that serves as Marion's cover for where she works. The entire labyrinth, the city beneath a city basically, was skillfully created and I wanted to explore every nook and cranny. Luckily Marion's investigation takes her all over and we get to see many parts of the agency.
I thought Marion was a well-developed lead character, and much of her supporting cast was as well. She is clever and likable and you want her to be successful in clearing her mentor's name. Throughout the book we meet fellow inquirers-in-training who are studying at the academy, as well as their professors, and of Inquirers, the job all those in training aspire to have.
This is one of those books where you really have to pay attention to everything that's going on because it all comes together in the end and everything is important. Even if it seems like just a spot of gossip, it could be something more so keep your eyes and ears open. There's a lot going on but I did not feel like it was overwhelming in any way. It was just more and more pieces of the puzzle coming together to make the picture clear.
I am looking forward to the next book and seeing how the Inquirers go about solving crimes on the outside. Here in the first novel the majority of the story takes place within the agency itself, as that is where the murder occurred. I am psyched to see what gadgets and technology Marion will use, and what the author will come up with next.
The beginning is a slow burn but stick with it, it will be worth it!