So, how did Kirsten Weiss’s Riga Hayworth stack up in Hayworth’s first adventure, The Metaphysical Detective? Review and some SPOILERS after the cut.
The novel opens with Riga getting a new client. The woman, Helen, says her dead husband Herman is trying to kill her. Why? It’s complicated, but Riga is a “metaphysical detective” who relies on word-of-mouth to bring her clients. Naturally, because she’s of a more magical persuasion, word-of-mouth tends to be just what she needs to get clients anyway. She also writes for a local newspaper on the side.
Riga, who apparently looks exactly like old timey movie star Rita Hayworth, takes the case but finds Helen dead the following day. Not one to let something go, Riga decides she ought to solve the murder. For helpers, she has her niece Pen (who Riga wishes would just stay home), a small, animated gargoyle named Brigette, and a mysterious new love interest named Donovan.
I’ll give Weiss some credit: she does set the mystery up well. I did predict a good deal of where things were going, and I’ll say more on that in a bit, but the mystery seems to shoot off into a completely different direction about two-thirds of the way through the book only to have it double back and reveal the digression was right on target the whole time.
That said, Riga is a big question mark of a character. We’re told she has certain magical powers and something awful happened in Afghanistan. Aside from the fact lights tend to dim in her presence at night, not much is said about what exactly Riga’s powers are or even what happened in Afghanistan. Maybe it’s meant for a future book, but that strikes me a gyp to try and force me to read the sequel. Riga isn’t even that interesting a character all told. She lacks the unique voice of a Harry Dresden or a Rachel Morgan. She doesn’t even seem to have a decent sense of humor.
In fact, none of the characters seem to be particularly unique or interesting. The one exception is a ghost named Vinnie, who speaks 1940s slang with a Bugs Bunny accent, but the novel ends in a way that tells the reader he probably isn’t going to be a regular.
Likewise, the identity of what’s behind everything wasn’t much of a surprise to me since (MASSIVE SPOILERS HERE) the Greek Gods were the main characters in another book I’d recently read and reviewed for Gabbing Geek, namely Zeus Is Dead. Having some of roles reversed over who was good and who was evil from that book was a bit different, but the Olympians were not much more distinctive than anyone else in the book. I had figured out which god was hiding where in many cases (though there were less than I thought), and even the identity of Riga’s secret admirer wasn’t much of a surprise.
So, due to being only mildly pleased with the mystery and not really all that interested in the characters, I’m going to give this one six out of ten movie star look-alike detectives. I’m probably not going to read any more of these.