• The Art of Madness

  • The GearWitch Investigations
  • By: A. J. Mayall
  • Narrated by: Nicholas Patrella
  • Length: 13 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Being the GearWitch means Phoenix McGee can bend time, save the day, or find your missing dog. Because cosmic powers don't pay the bills.

Phoenix McGee became a detective to show the world he was mature, reliable, capable of running his own life and business. It’s just a shame he can’t adult his way out of a paper bag.

On the verge of losing everything, he takes on a simple case of suspected adultery, something to keep the lights on and the creditors at bay. Little did he suspect his life would become a chaotic whirlwind of false leads, uneasy alliances, mob ties, and a woman who punches with a sedan.

Bodies pile up as he struggles to keep things normal for himself and his assistant, Suzette DiMarco. In Rouge Mal, Nevada, unusual is normal. Being a haven for the supernatural and superpowered, it’s common to see a vampire on the street while a psychic informs you your bus will be late. Just present your Black Card for proof of powers. That’s not to say there are no normal people, far from it.

Then there is Phoenix McGee, the GearWitch. Being attuned to the clockwork nature of the universe and able to bend the fundamental laws of reality comes with the bonus that his powers show up under no scans, leaving him in a loophole where he can use his powers without legal restriction...or protection.

Phoenix will need his wits if he plans to solve the case and save himself, his livelihood, and everyone around him....

Fans of Seanan Mcguire, Kevin Hearne, Jim Butcher, superhero stories, and comics will love the first installment of the GearWitch Investigations!

Ask A. J.:

Q: What inspired the series?

A: A lot of things, and the best way to sum it up is this: It's like if Terry Pratchett wrote a series set in the world of Buffy staring the cosmically powered lovechild of Doctor Strange and Star-Lord. Phoenix is quirky, peppy, hilarious, and packs enough of a metaphysical punch to knock the bad guys on their butts.

Q: Why should we listen to them?

A: Because the GearWitch Investigations is a superpowered, fast-paced foray into an all new Digitalpunk world. Magic, superpowers, technology, and crime. How can you pass that up?

Start this cosmically-powered action roller-coaster!

©2017 A. J. Mayall (P)2019 WordFire, Inc.

What listeners say about The Art of Madness

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Am I biased?

Do I have a bias in loving this book? Yes. What is that bias? The villain is named after me! And oh, what style! What panache! What sociopathy!

This one got me hooked right at the <spoiler>werewolf orgy reveal.</spoiler> And all of Phoenix's jokes about it that followed. Which really says something about me....

Mayall sets up a great universe, which acknowledges what the U.S. would do if the supernatural existed: set up a bureaucracy to lord over them. But, not, like, in an X-Men Mutant Registration Act sense. More like...a DMV. And while out main character, Phoenix, gets to skirt around the supernatural DMV, that doesn't necessarily help him.

Audiobook narrator review: Nicholas Patrella does a great job with the irreverent, sometimes frantic humor of the book. The main character does NOT have his shit together, and Nicholas lets him be a bit of a mess. I particularly loved the club scene, and his portrayal of some great in-joke characters.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • BT
  • 04-14-20

Interesting concept, plot was too convoluted

I received a free review copy of this audio book, at my request, and am voluntarily leaving this unbiased review.

This book is a mix of sci-fi/super hero, that falls somewhere in the middle. This is often a mistake, trying to do both and ending up neither being done well, however this author does a good job of it.

The author's note at the beginning of this book mentions that this is first book written in this series, but not necessarily the first book chronically and that he wants each book to be accessible as an individual entry, without the need for reading each book before it. This is often done in movies, (Indiana Jones, etc) but less often in books.

This book references a lot of history of the characters, previous cases, past instances, etc, which presumably will be address in future books. However, as these books are adventure/mystery in nature, I suspect this will be hard to pull off. For example, in Indiana Jones: Ark of the Covenant Indi didn't spend the movie talking about what happened years earlier in the Temple of Doom. While this doesn't affect the quality of this book, I still think it is a mistake to spend so much time dropping hints at future work that isn't written yet.

What does affect this book is that none of the events that are hinted at are developed. An incident will be brought up, characters will take about their significance and then the story will move on without explanation of the background. It leaves the story a little hollow with large gaps in the lore.

The characters are well rounded, as you'd want in a detective story. Very few characters are left without nuance. Most have several, competing motivations, which are often revealed when you think you have a handle on them. This makes for a satisfying journey.

The setting is a little too vague, for my liking. It is set in a fictional town in the US desert. This is fine, especially for a super hero story. But there is no time scale. It seems like present, but it seems future. It is also not clear when supers or mutants become a thing (always there vs new). At times it seems like people are still getting used to the idea, other times like it has always been that way. Also, if it has been long term, I disagree that technology would have progressed the same as it has for us (with out mutants). I would have liked this explained better and a at least hinted at.

The story itself, I found, was too long and suffered from too many chiches. The characters seem (at times) to go out of their way to pad the page length. For example +++very minor spoilers+++ at one point the main character go to confront a mob boss and then proceeds to play the pronoun game. This leads to a big misunderstanding and increasing the length of the book by at least 30 mins. The main character is also supposed to be a great detective, but can't keep his mouth under control when trying to get information out of hostile contacts, leading to increased page counts.

There are also fake outs, where again, the pronoun game is played. Leaving files on "his" desk, etc. Where, as the reader, we are supposed to believe it's this or that, only for a "twist" and it's for someone else, or something else.

Ultimately the plot was too convoluted, and seemed to be only as complicated as it was, just to be more complicated. It didn't feel organic to me (the author taking a story where it lead), it felt very forced (the author making a story go where he wanted it to, even when it didn't fit).

Having said that, most of the story was enjoyable. I had a good time following the characters through their lives. The mystery was engaging, mostly. And the world was interesting, with the different types of mutants. I call them mutants, because they don't seem like super heros, just people with other abilities.

The main mutants focused on, in this book, are werewolves, though there are others. They are people who go about their day, but can change into half wolf or full wolf as needed. They pack like wolves and have the hierarchy of wolves. It is an interesting idea. A bit beaten to death by the end of the book, but interesting none the less.

The narrator, Nicholas Patrella, was OK. He has an extremely familiar voice, that I can't place. He does an alright job, but isn't the right narrator for this book, in my opinion. This book has a lot of touchy feely moments, at random points, and this narrator doesn't do that well. He sounds less like someone being genuine, and more like someone trying to be genuine. If these sections were fewer, this would have been fine, but as they happened every chapter or 2, it became distracting how wrong the voice was. The narrator was good, however, and I can think of other books he would be right for, but just not this one.

All in all, it was a good book, with an interesting story, with well rounded characters and an alright narrator. There were too many issues keeping this from being a great book, however.

The author shows great promise, and I very well may read more in this series, as they are available.

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Superb

The Art of Madness is my second A. J. Mayall book and so far, I'm very impressed by his style and the ability to capture his readers/listeners' attention. The premise is quite entertaining with a fusion of urban fantasy, detective, and contemporary comic/superhero components. The characters are multi-faceted, the world-building is excellent, and the storyline is fascinating. From the beginning to the very end, I was fully immersed.

A stellar performance by Nicholas Patrella. He portrayed the characters well, implementing their personalities and emotions, bringing the story to life. This was an enjoyable listen and, I highly recommend it. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Madness?

Yes, there is some of that. At times too much. This story was up and down for me. Brilliant in between whatever. At first I wanted to the tell narrator to take a deep breathe and slow down. Then I believe he did just that and his performance smoothed out and I enjoyed listening to him.
This audio was given to me free and I voluntarily gave this review.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Needs a prequel

My only real complaint about this book is it feels like the second book in the series, past characters and events that seems to be very important to the story are just thrown in like we are supposed to know what happened and who they are. Other then that I like the characters and the superhero/ Detective story telling and the Narrator did a grate job!

Author notes: Keven Hearne is one of my favorite authors and he dose a great job on the back story that we should know about the main character before a prequel is required

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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I really wanted to love this book

*I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, my review is voluntary and unbiased,

This book is fun, if not exceptionally well written, our protagonist is pretty overpowered, with time control and flight and some other powers, but the story is fast and fun, It mixes the Supers and detective genre, the characters were mostly believable and there was some quipy dialogue along with some real character interaction. I will say the main character can be a bit whiny, and his assistant is a bit over the top aggressive,

Much of the success of the investigators, seems to come from the incompetence of their enemies, Particularly when it comes to the later interactions with the pack and the scene in the courtroom. There is a fairly common saying regarding trails, an attorney never asks a question in court they don't already know the answer to. The "high priced elite defense council" comes off as a complete moron, who can't remember the basic functions of a courtroom, There are also several torture interrogation scenes which are laughably bad, like lifted from an bad 80s action flick.

This book is lgbtq+ friendly which is always nice to see, it was only mentioned a few times but it was definitively with positive support.

The narration was spot on.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fun Superhero Detective Story

Phoenix is a GearWitch meaning he has power over time and the power of flight and a bunch of other stuff that might render him overpowered in relation to the world, but he has a lack of focus and is slow at catching up at times so the playing field is leveled a little bit. He's also a PI because well having super powers doesn't pay the bills. He's hired to do a minor job and see if a man's wife is cheating on her, and finds out it's a little more than expected and bathing in the afterglow of that he ends up deep in a situation that involves many powerful people from different groups throughout Rouge Mal (his hometown and a supernatural hotspot). Him and his assistant Suzanne definitely have enough on their plates throughout. This does a good job of keeping the action going even when there are scenes of more traditional detective work and the characters are quite unique not only for the things they can do but also for the normal traits they exhibit. It starts entertaining and stays that way throughout. The narration does a good job of keeping up with the story and the characters keeping up and enhancing them and keeping the action going.

I received the review code for this audiobook at my request and am voluntarily leaving this honest review.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Everything you want in a Supernatural detective

I was given a copy of this audiobook free for the purpose of review. I really enjoyed the dialogue it felt natural. I enjoyed the story it was a nice blend of detective and superhero. The narrator did a good job in lending a voice to the characters..

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Excellent Fantasy Detective Story

Story opens well with situations unfolding in a very smooth manner. Narration was performed well with clear annunciations. Vocal pressure was applied in well timed flow with the story line.
I recommend this audiobook for ages 17 and older due to graphic violence
I was given this audiobook for free and I freely give it my rating and opinion
I was given this audiobook for free and I freely give it my rating and opinion

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Nice Blend of Detective and Super Hero Story

Typically, books about super hero detectives seem to be mostly super hero romp with a sort of "oh yea, he is a detective too" feel. That is not the case here. The Art of Madness has layers of complexity that give it a genuine detective story feel. Although, the main character seems so over powered this would be an incredibly short book if he weren't limited by being slow on the uptake. overall this is a fun story, worth the listen.

Narration is very well done. You can tell Nicholas Patrella was into the performance. He conveys plenty of emotion and other (sound effects?) to make moments seem real. Narration certainly seemed to add to the experience.

I received this audiobook for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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  • Norma Miles
  • 05-06-20

You do not insult the racoon.

This strange, but appealing, mix of science fiction fantasy, super hero and detective is, apparently, not the first title in a new series, just the first one published, with each book devised to be a stand alone read in any order. The main protagonist is a sincere but immature man, still sleeping with and talking to his best friend, a stuffed animal named Bouncer, trying to prove he's a 'functional adult', and, with the assistance of the formidable Suzanne, his secretary, running a badly in debt private investigations agency. Desperate to pay off the huge sum before foreclosure envelopes him, he delightedly accepts a lucrative adultery case, which brings him notoriety but not the anticipated fee. Instead, he is plunged into something much deeper...

Written from a profusion of points of view, The Art of Madness is very fast moving, incident and ideas packed, violent - and great fun. Just when it seems that the mystery is solved, it isn't, and the roller coaster ride begins again. Right down to the very last sentence. Some nice turns of phrase, too, as in the description of one character's voice as sounding 'like sausages being fried to a crisp in old cooking oil'. And the whole is enhanced by Nicholas Patrella's outstanding performance, his reading fast paced, his emotional delivery shadowing and enlightening the text. His sinister laughter is something special. Excellent.

I was very fortunate to have been freely gifted with a complimentary copy of The Art of Madness, at my request, by the rights holder. Thank you so much. It is a long book and could have easily become tedious: I have a low tolerance for many super hero type stories. But this book balanced the fantasy and crazy crime investigation with unexpected revelations and character interchanges well, which, combined with Patrella's narration, made this a fun read throughout. Recommended

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Profile Image for ChaosKay (Audiobook Obsession Reviewer, The Flock VIP)
  • ChaosKay (Audiobook Obsession Reviewer, The Flock VIP)
  • 09-01-19

Fantastic listen

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

I am hoping there are more Gearwitch books to come as I really enjoyed listening to this.
There were lots of twists and turns and it ended making you think there was more to come.