Luna Station Quarterly is a speculative fiction magazine featuring stories by emerging women authors.
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Book Review: The Metaphysical Detective

by Rebecca Buchanan

Title: The Metaphysical Detective (The Riga Hayworth series)

Publisher: misterio press

Author: Kirsten Weiss

Pages: 284 pp

Price: free (ebook) / $5.95 – $10.95 (paperback)

Riga Hayworth is many things: a witch, an interpreter of dreams, a reader of tarot cards, and a private investigator. She is also a doting aunt to a teen niece who idolizes her, and best friend to an ex-pat French gargoyle. And now she finds herself caught up in the strangest case of her strange career: trying to solve the murder of a woman who was apparently killed by her own long-dead husband, while trying to figure out how sexy and charismatic casino owner Donovan Mosse fits into the whole thing . . .

The Metaphysical Detective is one of those rare books that left me feeling ambivalent. Usually, I thoroughly enjoy a story, or I have serious problems with it. I prefer to write about only the books that I enjoy, and share them with other readers. The Metaphysical Detective . . . well . . .

The good points. Riga Hayworth is a fantastic character: smart, sassy, compassionate, determined, and powerful. (Yes, she’s in on the joke regarding her name.) She knows that magic is not something to trifle with, and is prudent in its use. She also understands that everything — absolutely everything — is connected, and everything is Myth. That’s why she is so low key in her advertising (just flyers and business cards); it’s part of the initiatory process and people have to find their own way to her. She also uses tarot cards to profile the players in the mystery she is trying to unravel, plotting out their relationships to one another and to her.

Riga is also a loving sister to her totally non-magical sister and (supposedly) non-magical niece, Penelope. Riga is careful to keep her niece out of her investigations, not wanting the girl to become capital-E Entangled in mythical, magical goings-on. But when Penelope suddenly develops the ability to exorcise ghosts with just a word, Riga flips out, desperately trying to save the girl from a weird and dangerous future.

Which ultimately brings us to the part of the story that left me ambivalent. I love the use of myth in the story, with actions and events and people in the mundane realm mirroring what is happening in the mythical realm; as below, so above. I even like Weiss’ use of Archetypes. Here, they are not imaginary constructs, make-believe reflections of our own thoughts and desires. Rather, they are the fully-realized manifestations of the primal story-powers of creation; bound to follow the dictates of their nature (just as we are), they often appear in forms which we can understand and relate to, but they are also autonomous entities.

It’s a complex equation, but one that works in The Metaphysical Detective.

What did not work for me was the conclusion to the mystery that Riga was investigating, and how that tied into the nature and being of the Gods/Archetypes. No–no spoilers here. I won’t give away the ending. I will say, though, that when the motivation and identity of the murderer was revealed, I was stunned and had to set the book aside for a few days. When I finally picked it up again to read the last few chapters, I was fascinated by what it meant for Riga (and Penelope and Donovan), but still irritated. Or more than irritated.

So . . . ambivalent.

Ultimately, I do recommend The Metaphysical Detective. I think fans of The SPI Files by Shearin, Devon Monk’s Ordinary Magic series, The Marnie Baranuik Files by Aalto, and The Medusa Files by Black will enjoy the characters and the mystery — with the caveat that parts of the story may leave readers deeply irritated.

A bit about the columnist:

Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer, and editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She blogs semi regularly at BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature. She wants to reincarnate as a fat, happy library cat. Visit author page