by Kaleb Russell
Everybody loves a good murder mystery! The elements of suspense, deception, and ample misdirection coalesce to form a tightly constructed narrative filled with colorful characters and wrapped up in one big murderous plot. Sweeten the pot with some fantasy magic and you’ve elevated one of storytelling’s classic formats to new genre-bending heights. Here are 5 compelling magical murder mysteries that we think you should check out.
The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller
Sole survivor of a race of necromancers, Charm is a prisoner of the Emperor with nothing but her children and her bone trees to bring her solace. One day, as the Emperor lays in his deathbed, he gives Charm one final command: learn which one of his conniving sons is his murderer. She can succeed and be set free, but that entails betraying the ghosts of her fallen people in the process. Will she follow the will of her dead master or forsake the sanctity of the empire to sate her hunger for vengeance? The Bone Orchard is a lush and gothically atmospheric work that explores the poisonous nature of empire through the moral compromises it foists upon even those it seeks to quash.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Heiress of the Ninth House, Bone witch, and all-around curmudgeon, Harrowhark Nonagesimus is summoned to a haunted house in a far off galaxy along with eight other Noble necromancers and her reluctant cavalier, Gideon, to compete in a game of wit and skill for the Emperor’s favor. It’s not long before characters start dropping like flies. If Harrow and Gideon are to survive, they must solve the mysteries of the house as well as its enigmatic occupants. The first book in Tamsyn Muir’s The Locked Tomb series is an enthralling murder mystery with an explosive finale that’ll leave you aching for more.
The Alloy Of Law by Brandon Sanderson
Set 300 years after the events of the original trilogy, the world of Mistborn is in the modern age—cities teeming with electricity-powered street lamps and steel-framed skyscrapers touching the stratosphere. We follow Wax, a vagabond from the Roughs forced to return home to Elendel after a family tragedy requires him to holster his guns and assume the responsibilities befitting the head of a noble family. Wax quickly realizes life in a sweeping metropolis can be just as treacherous as the Roughs. In Sanderson fashion, The Alloy of Law is a fast-paced mystery with high stakes, dynamic magic, and gunfights galore.
Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey
A little bit Veronica Mars and a little bit The Magicians, Magic For Liars is about an unhappy, magicless P.I. named Ivy Gamble who ventures to Osthorne Academy for Young Mages to investigate a gruesome murder and maybe even reconnect with her estranged twin sister who just so happens to be a teacher there. Sarah Gailey’s debut novel promises thrills, heartache, and a devastating ending.
Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
In this 21st century fantasy, Gods deal and compete with corporations for power and control as necromantic lawyers levy dark magic to litigate their conflicts. Fresh out of law school, Tara Abernathy’s first job as an associate of the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao is to resurrect the deceased fire god, Kos, before pandemonium sets in and the city of Alt Coulumb crumbles from the pressure. When Tara learns the God was murdered, she recruits a chain-smoking priest of the dead god named Abelard to help find the culprit and save the city. Like the other books in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, Three Parts Dead is an insanely smart, dashingly elegant legal thriller that’ll keep you guessing all the way to the huge finale, and pondering the nature of faith weeks after you’ve witnessed it.