Friday, 30 January 2015

The Mysteries by Lisa Tuttle (Jo Fletcher Books)

I share my thoughts on The Mysteries, by Lisa Tuttle, an urban fantasy/mystery novel published by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK and released by the publisher in 2014.

A blend of mystery, thriller and fantasy that will leave you looking over your shoulder.

Laura Lensky’s daughter, Peri, has been missing for two years. For the police it’s a closed case – she wanted to run away – but for her mother and boyfriend, Henry, it’s a different story. When Laura hires private investigator Ian Kennedy, it is a last-ditch attempt to find her daughter before she leaves for America. Drawn in by strange parallels to an obscure Celtic myth and his first, almost unexplainable case, Ian takes the job. But his beliefs are about to be stretched to their limit – there are darker and more devious forces at work here than any of them imagined.

What do you get when you give a detective story a fairy-tale esque feeling? The result is something like The Mysteries, the latest addition to the already strong line-up of titles that have been put out by one of the most reliable publishers for good fiction as of late - Jo Fletcher Books. Whilst it doesn’t quite hit all the high notes, with a few problems here and there, you will generally find that there is a lot more to like than dislike from Lisa Tuttle's novel. 

The book focuses on Laura Lensky, whose daughter Peri has been missing for two years. She’s giving the attempt at solving what is otherwise a closed-case one last chance before she leaves for America, hiring a private investigator Ian Kennedy to do so. Ian takes the job when this case seems to match up with his first one and some odd Celtic mythology, but little does he realise that he’s about to stumble into something that will question his beliefs for good. It’s not exactly your typical urban fantasy, wise-cracking badass private detective or vampire slayer/lover story as The Mysteries manages to be a bit more subtle than that, with some fascinating prose that touches upon an area of mythology that isn’t commonly explored in these novels, and that is Celtic Mythology, something which I can imagine not many people will be overly familiar with, making the book feel fresh and different than what you might expect.

The book itself breaks up the narrative by having chapters that tell stories of various fairy tales and legends from various viewpoints, all of which provided some more depth to the story as we got a feel for the world that it is set in. As a result, There’s plenty of development throughout the whole novel, not just when it comes to not just the Celtic Mythology element, but also the question characters, with Laura and Ian being the main focus of The Mysteries and making very interesting protagonists for us to follow over the course of the book.

The element of fairytale and fantasy that the writer brings into the title does not overshadow the characters and the pacing. So often you see urban fantasy authors, particularly newer ones, trying to cram in as many things as they can in one book so that the characters often get pushed to the side, but there’s none of that here. The novel feels very grounded, managing to keep the focus mainly on its characters, as well as keeping the pacing pretty much spot on as well. It reads pretty smoothly and even though it might not be a fast-paced thriller, it doesn’t have to be.

The Mysteries is far more than just your average urban fantasy book. It’s one of the more original additions to the genre that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and although I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending, it still managed to be a pretty impressive read that urban fantasy fans, especially those looking for a break from the norm, will enjoy. The main focus on character development and the good use of Celtic Mythology also helps make this novel a compelling read, and as a result this is something that I can definitely recommend.

VERDICT: 7.9/10

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