*I received this book from Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, in the summer of 1892, a grisly new witch hunt is beginning…
Deputy Marshal Archie Lean isn’t uncomfortable around dead bodies. He may be new in his position, but he’s not new to crime. Still, the death of Maggie Keene disturbs him. A prostitute laid out in a pentagram with a pitchfork pinning her down, the ritualistic tone unnerves him.
Because of the odd nature of the crime, the doctor on the case, Dr. Steig, enlists the help of Perceval Grey, the son of his old commander. Grey, whose unorthodox manner combined with his status as a Pinkerton detective and his Native American heritage, unnerves Lean even more, until he realizes how well the two work together.
Along with Steig’s niece, historian Helen Prescott, the group uncovers links to the spiritualist societies and old Native American raids as well as the Salem Witch Trials, following the killer’s trail across New England and its history.
Because of the historical narrative, both the current setting and the Salem of years past have to be fleshed out, which does drag down the beginning of the book in terms of pace. However, Shields’ writing is so atmospheric that instead of being bogged down by the history, I was further ensconced in it, wondering how and why the murders tied in to centuries-old killings.
The Truth of All Things is a debut novel and one that likely starts a new series, and for that reason, I was willing to forgive a couple of the less-successful aspects of the book. For example, Lean is married with one child and another on the way, but his home life was in no way fleshed out other than a scene or two where the child played at Archie’s feet and his pregnant wife met him at the door. Additionally, Helen Prescott obviously has a back story that was only hinted at in this novel, and I almost felt like I was missing something key each time the photograph of her child’s father was referenced.
As with any detective novel, however, aside from the mystery itself, the principal characters can make or break a story, and in this novel, Lean and Grey’s tenuous, awkward relationship was fascinating and fun to watch. As part Abenaki, Grey is treated contemptuously, at worst and suspiciously, at best within society, but Lean, eager to prove himself in his own way, quickly sees the value and intelligence in Grey’s methods, and the two slowly forge a friendship and are at ease in one another’s company. Their dialogue and humor was refreshing, particularly when (inevitably) compared to the Holmes/Watson relationship. Instead of being the brawn to Grey’s brain, Lean is well read and able to procure plenty of evidence on his own. Plus, the two rely on Dr. Steig and Helen Prescott as sounding boards, and the conclusion is definitely a team effort.
As much adventure as it is mystery,Â The Truth of All ThingsÂ is perfect for a steamy sunny evening with enough suspense that you’ll want to keep on a nightlight or two.
Interested in winning a copy of The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields? Just leave a comment below (with your email address) by Friday the 13th (OooOoooo!) for a chance to win!
UPDATE: Congrats Meg! You won a copy of The Truth of All Things.