Publication Date: December 29, 2020
Publisher: Park Row
Genre: Mystery; Historical
This adventure filled mystery centers around Marion Lane who is a first year private detective apprentice at a secretive underground station. The book begins with a secretary at the agency, Mrs. White, being murdered and since this is a secret agency, we quickly learn that the list of suspects can be narrowed down to only people who work at the agency. At first, the murder doesn’t concern Marion much since she has a lot of work on her plate along with family drama to contend with. But when her mentor is framed for the murder she has no choice but to try to figure out who murdered Mrs. White.
Willberg has created a distinctive world set in the late 1950’s that is filled with technology and an interesting group of characters. I did find this story to be a bit slippery when it came to nailing down the details of the world and characters. It took quite a large chunk of the book for me to feel like I had a firm grasp on who some of these characters were. The more we learn about the world and get to know people more the more I enjoyed the story. And the story was a thrilling one involving some spooky details, nefarious characters and long held secrets.
I got strong Harry Potter vibes from this story since it is a pretty self contained building that Marion and her fellow apprentices are working at, as well as some other minor plot lines that occur. A big difference is that our characters are all adults and there is relatively low drama amongst them. I also loved all the Clue vibes (they even play Cluedo at one point!) and I think Willberg did a great job using these familiar tropes in a unique way.
I feel like this book, being the first in the series, really cemented the core of the world and the characters who fill it and the next book will just build on it. Which, I’m hoping means that I will find the next one easier to jump into since I did struggle quite a bit with the beginning of this book. If this book sounds like something you would enjoy then I do recommend you pick it up and try not to get discouraged by the rather slow beginning. It took me switching to an audiobook version for me to get past the first few chapters and I really enjoyed the narrator so I also recommend reading this book that way.