Title: Accused (The Kansas City Warlock Weekly Book One)
Publisher/Author: MN Jolley
Price: $15.99 / 0.99 cents (or free)
Levi Lawson (rhymes with Chevy) is a journalist. Once, he had a promising career — then he discovered that magic was real, he tried to write a story about it, and, well, the magical Powers That Be couldn’t have that. Disgraced and fired, Levi decided to do something with his newfound knowledge of magic and fantastical beings: he started his own weekly newspaper. Unfortunately, he has few subscribers, he can’t get any sponsors, and he’s almost out of cash. And then a woman calls him for help. A woman he turns away … only to find her dead a few hours later ….
Urban fantasy in which the magical world is hidden from the mundane world is fairly common, so finding a new take on the trope can be difficult. Happily, I stumbled across Accused while I was perusing Barnes and Noble. Intrigued, I downloaded it and read it in a few hours.
I really like Levi. He’s not just smart: he’s clever. He works the problem in front of him, adapting and planning two or three steps ahead. He’s also neurodivergent, so he doesn’t understand most humor or facial expressions, and he sometimes experiences sensory overload. Fortunately, he now has Ben in his life. While Ben might be mundane, he jumps into the magical world feet first, helping Levi with his investigation any way he can.
And it is an impressive, awesome, terrifying world. There is a Wizards Council, responsible for maintaining the secrecy of magic. There are Counsellors who investigate crimes and cover up anything that needs covering up. There are fae and vampires, potion brewers and trolls (very big), and many more. There’s also cool magic that makes use of ley lines and wells and pathfinding stones and assorted other charms, glamours, and crystals.
Did I mention the troll (very big)?
I also really like the twisting, turning structure of the narrative. It jumps back and forth across two different days; the first day, when Levi is investigating the murder, and the second day, when he is being interrogated by two Counsellors. As he goes through his investigation with them, red herrings, obfuscation, and straight up lies twine the story round and round, looping back on itself even as it moves forward, right up to the surprise conclusion.
Accused was a heck of a lot of fun. I hope Jolley continues the series soon, because I want to see what else is in store for Levi. Highly recommended to fans of The Trials of Abyowith by Erik Buchanan, The Gunderson Case Files by Blaze Ward, Touched by Magic by Celine Jeanjean, and The Malykant Mysteries by Charlotte E. English.
[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]