Monday, December 8, 2014

REVIEW: Catching a Man (Valeriel Investigations, #1) / Elizabeth Corrigan

In celebration of her recently released fantasy mystery, Catching a Man, I'm dedicating this week to author Elizabeth Corrigan. The first post in this series is my review of Catching a Man, the first book in the Valeriel Investigations series.

TITLE: Catching a Man (Valeriel Investigations, #1)
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Corrigan
PUBLISHER: Self-published
AVAILABILITY: Purchase links on author's website (click here)

Fantasy - Mystery/Noir

Kadin Stone wants what every young woman in the 1950s-style kingdom of Valeriel wants: to find a husband. Not because she's a particularly domestic sort (her java-brewing skills prove the opposite, in fact) but because in this society, it's the only way she can move out and stop burdening her brother (women in Valeriel can't live alone). So her primary goal in becoming a detectives aide is to get in with the young investigators and snag one for herself.

As is made clear from Day 1, Kadin's job is to make java and look pretty. But after someone murders the queen, she finds herself unable to ignore the clues. And an unexpected encounter with the primary suspect leads her down investigative alleys the lead detective missed. When her boss dismisses her attempts to help, she finds herself with no choice but to solve the murder herself.

Catching a Man is a unique and entertaining fantasy mystery full of colorful characters and fascinating twists. The world is an interesting and somewhat satirical twist on mid century America, highlighting issues of gender inequality as well as the downsides of over privatization (in Valeriel, criminal investigations are privatized - which means if you can't pay, no one will solve your crime). The setting is full of flavors from the era, evoking bygone days in a different world. Who said all fantasies have to be medieval anyway? And of course, there's a touch of magic and hints of greater things to come (Catching a Man is the first in a series, though it is a self-contained story).

Kadin is an awesome protagonist, instantly relatable and fun to watch. Though she wants to fit in, she has an independent streak at odds with her repressive society. And her sarcastic commentary is an absolute delight to read (I found it hilarious). Other memorable characters include Baurus, the king's bad boy cousin who is Suspect #1 in the queen's murder, and Ollie, Kadin's spirited, gossip-loving friend.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone looking for an atypical fantasy. Especially since Kadin is also an atypical protagonist. She defies the cliche "Strong Female Character" trope while carrying the story with her own kind of charm. A fun and fast-paced read, Catching a Man takes readers to a wholly different kind of world.

Elizabeth Corrigan has degrees in English and psychology and has spent several years working as a data analyst in various branches of the healthcare industry. When she’s not hard at work on her next novel, Elizabeth enjoys singing, reading teen vampire novels, and making Sims of her characters. She drinks more Diet Coke than is probably optimal for the human body and is pathologically afraid of bees. She lives in Maryland with two cats and a purple Smart Car.

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