The Malykant Mysteries by Charlotte E. English

To finish up my season of magical mysteries, I’m highlighting the series which actually gave me the idea of choosing this theme.

Malykant Mysteries

Swirling his long, dark coat out of the way of his legs, he was on his knees in an instant, heedless of the ice-touched, waterlogged mud staining the thick fabric of his trousers.

But he was not the first. He swore at finding himself too late; too late to prevent this most virulent of poisons from being harvested, processed, sold and above all, used. The centre of the flower was gone; only a few petals remained.

Konrad sat back on his heels, disturbed. Whoever had harvested this particular specimen was not a professional poison master; the drooping, bruised state of the few surviving petals spoke of the rough lack of care with which the valuable parts of the flower had been removed.

When amateurs played at poison craft, the results were never good.

Konrad Savast is a man with a very peculiar mission: when someone is murdered, his job is to kill the killer. The Malykant is a bound servant of the mysterious power called the Malykt; his role comes with magical abilities, but also a dangerous level of responsibility

Most intersections of magic and law enforcement seem to take place in reimaginings of the real world, or alternate histories, so it’s pleasing to find a well-developed world with its own very peculiar manner of justice. Since the Malykant is required to administer justice to every killer, his first requirement is to establish who is guilty, giving a natural frame for a series of murder mysteries.

I particularly love the way that the fantastical elements mesh with the mystery elements throughout this series. Konrad has two spirit serpents who assist with his work, and his ability to access the spirit world gives him an edge in his investigations. Settings include a creepy forest, a ghostly circus, and of course the city of Ekamet where Konrad plays the perfect gentleman in his daily life.

Although he’s bound to a mysterious deity, Konrad is also very human. His emotions are magically dampened, but that isn’t enough to stop him feeling the horror of the violence that his role requires of him. He has only one almost-friend, a healer called Irinanda, and she has plenty of secrets of her own. I adored Nanda, and although she’s a mystery to the reader as much as she is to Konrad, it’s always clear that her heart is in the right place.

This collection includes four self-contained novellas, which nevertheless form a coherent arc of plot and character development. I hope there will be another mini-series to come further down the line, but if not, the resolution at the end of Ghostspeaker ties up the ongoing threads in a satisfying manner.

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