Mysterious Ways

Mysterious Ways is a murder mystery novel that takes a poke at religion, be it Christianity, satanism or the occult. The story stars a colorful detective duo who are anything but conventional. They are hooked into a seemingly mundane affair which later turns into something much more serious. Religion, murder, fraud and secrecy weave around with each other into an intriguing plot. Toss in some interesting villains and side characters, and the story has a lot to work with.

One of the strengths of the book is the unconventional main characters. Merlin Bloodstone plays the role of the brilliant sleuth who can cut through a problem with his superior deductive skills. Yet Bloodstone is also an eccentric occultist who makes a living as a spiritual adviser. To add further spice to the story, the reader is always left wondering how much of his skill is observation and how much is actual magic. To offset this, Bloodstone is teamed with Connor Moran, a more down to earth character. First off, Connor is a struggling writer. He works for Bloodstone because he pays well, provides a place to stay, gets a lot of free time, and doesn’t mind the work. In a way, he’s a very relatable character. He even plays soccer on the weekends. But the real important aspect of his character is that he’s also a skeptic. For him, all the magic and ritualistic mumbo jumbo that Bloodstone does is all smoke and mirrors. His role gives the story a differing viewpoint. A scene through Connor’s eyes will show small details being connected together in masterful strokes. Yet from Bloodstone’s unseen perspective, those same results could be from the very real use of magic. Ultimately it’s up to the reader to decide, but it adds some fun to the story.

As for the plot, it’s a mystery that comes in layers. A student comes to Bloodstone in desperate need of help when a teacher tries to flunk them out of being valedictorian. But such a simple issue turns into a local battle between Wiccans and over zealous Christians. Then things spiral out of control as the stakes are raised and people start dying. All the while Connor and Bloodstone are gathering clues and interrogating witnesses to solve the issues before they get worse.

There are also some subplots that are woven into the story, for better or worse. Bloodstone has a thing for tea. If you don’t know anything about tea (like me) then you’ll get a little education on the topic. Then there’s this feud Connor has with Bloodstone’s chef, Phil the Pill. There’s a humorous celebrity client (loosley based on William Shatner) that does off and on business with Bloodstone and pops up at various points in the story. I could go on a bit more, but the point is that each of these things takes away from the mystery feel of the book. They also cause a bit of distraction. On the flip side, they help round out the main characters and sometimes add some real entertainment value to the story. More than once I laughed out loud at some of the funny moments, so the distractions weren’t always a bad thing.

By itself, Mysterious Ways was an entertaining way to spend a couple nights with my eReader. I generally don’t read mysteries as I’m a sci-fi and fantasy fan, but I certainly make exceptions for authors I like. That said, I thought Mysterious Ways was a good read, and worthy of a three and half out of five metal bikinis. I know that’s not a perfect score, but coming in cold into the genre, and to a new cast of characters, it took me a while to warm up to the story. Not every book can blow your mind. Nevertheless, Mysterious Ways was fun, had some good moments, and some good payoffs. It’s also a nice change-up if you haven’t read a mystery in a while (or ever).

Ordinarily my review would be over there, but Stackpole did something special with Mysterious Ways: it’s available in three editions. The Basic Edition is just the eBook which is only $4.99. The Deluxe Edition includes an essay about how the story came to be and costs $5.99. Then there’s the Super Deluxe Edition. That one costs $9.99 but believe it or not, it really is worth the extra five dollars.

The Super Deluxe Edition of Mysterious Ways includes a novella (The Cards Call Themselves) and two short stories (Brewed Fortune and Seamless) which all star Connor Moran and Merlin Bloodstone. The surprising thing for me was just how much I liked these bonus stories. Being shorter, I think they had the benefit of avoiding some of those distractions that hurt Mysterious Ways. They felt more focused and hit harder on the mystery elements. Best of all, they added a lot of variety to the overall experience. In The Cards Call Themselves we get a hard hitting mystery that has Connor and Bloodstone trying to solve copy cat serial killer case involving Tarot cards. Brewed Fortune takes place in a Renaissance faire for some lighthearted laughs but also a nice touch on Irish mythology and family tales. On the other hand, Seamless gets serious with a mashup between The Da Vinci Code and Indiana Jones involving some fun elements that I don’t want to spoil. Each of these stories were really good. I’d give them all a four out of five metal bikinis easy and it had me yearning for more.

So, taking those bonus stories into consideration, I have to say the Super Deluxe Edition of Mysterious Ways earns a well deserved four out of five metal bikinis. Honestly, it’s the best one to go with as those extra stories are really worth it.

If you’d like to purchase Mysterious Ways, you can find all three editions on Mike’s site Stormwolf.com. Unlike Amazon, Mike includes multiple formats so if you ever switch devices (or if you have multiple devices) you’re fully covered. The store also accepts PayPal which is pretty convenient for eBay users.

Direct Links: Mysterious Ways Basic Edition, Mysterious Ways Deluxe Edition, Mysterious Ways Super Deluxe Edition

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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