Set in 1958 London, Willberg’s assured debut, which is equal parts mystery and whimsical fantasy, plunges Marion Lane, a first-year apprentice at the shadow spy agency Miss Brickett’s Investigations and Inquiries, into the case of Michelle White, a much-loathed filing assistant, who was stabbed to death with one of the agency’s futuristic spy gadgets. The nature of the murder weapon leads Marion to believe that Michelle had incriminating information on her murderer. But when Marion’s mentor and protector, Frank Stone, comes under suspicion, Marion has to muster her investigative skills and those of her fellow apprentices to prove Frank’s innocence before Frank is sent to live out his days in the Holding Chambers, a forbidding prison for inquirers who have gone rogue. Willberg does an admirable job of worldbuilding, in particular Miss Brickett’s, which exists in an underground labyrinth far beneath the streets of London. Two distinctive supporting characters, best friend Bill Hobb and handsome American love interest Kenny Hugo, compensate for others who fail to pop. Readers will be curious to see where Marion goes next. Agent: Hayley Steed, Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
"This is the most fun I've had with a book this year. Every page is a delight, the worldbuilding is wonderful, and the mystery got its hooks into me from the first chapter. This is what would happen if a trainee James Bond was asked to solve an Agatha Christie mystery, and it's brilliant." — Stuart Turton, bestselling author of THE 7 1/2 DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE
"MARION LANE AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDER crackles with invention and surprise—the wondrous gadgetry, the moody settings, the endearing heroine and the struggles she’s endured—and Willberg weaves it all together around a perfectly puzzling locked-room whodunnit." — Matthew Sullivan, author of MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE
"MARION LANE AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDER is a delightfully stylish romp through London's foggy streets and secret tunnels, complete with a tantalizing, steampunk-flavored mystery. And in Marion Lane herself, T.A. Willberg has conjured a sharp-witted and sympathetic heroine, a worthy match for the sinister forces and shadowy organizations arrayed against her. Delicious fun!" — Helene Wecker, New York Times bestselling author of THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI
"[An] assured debut...Willberg does an admirable job of worldbuilding, in particular Miss Brickett’s, which exists in an underground labyrinth far beneath the streets of London." — Publishers Weekly
In debut author Willberg's 1950s London-set title, a Publisher's Lunch "Deal of the Day," the eponymous heroine hunts for the murderer of one of her colleagues at Miss Brickett's Investigations & Inquiries when another colleague is framed. Not for claustrophobes; lots of scenes in London's secret tunnels.