The Truth of All Things

Kieran Shields. Crown, $25 (416p) ISBN 978-0-307-72027-6
Set in 1892 in Portland, Maine, Shields’s stellar first novel plays ingenious variations on both the Holmesian omnipotent sleuth and the serial killer theme. The discovery of a ritually slaughtered young woman in a machine shop presents Deputy Marshal Archie Lean with a case way outside his experience. Someone stuck a pitchfork through Maggie Keene’s neck, cut off her right hand, and arranged her half-naked body in the form of a pentagram. Chalked on the side of a nearby gear is a string of letters that could be some sort of code. Lean turns for help to Perceval Grey, a part-Indian Pinkerton agent known for his unorthodox scientific methods. In short order, Grey identifies the chalked message’s language as that of the Abenaki tribe and, alarmingly, deduces that Keene is her killer’s second victim. Lean and Grey must overcome local prejudices inflamed by the crime, even as the murderer toys with the authorities by sending threatening letters. Meanwhile, clues emerge that the slayings may relate to the bicentennial of the Salem witchcraft trials. Strong characters and a nicely convoluted, intelligent plot bode well for any sequel. Agents: Suzanne Gluck and Erin Malone, William Morris. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2012
Release date: 03/27/2012
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 404 pages - 978-0-307-72029-0
Open Ebook - 297 pages - 978-0-307-72030-6
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