Publisher's Note:  

Two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, in the summer of 1892, a grisly new witch hunt is beginning....
When newly appointed Deputy Marshal Archie Lean is called in to investigate a prostitute's murder in Portland, Maine, he's surprised to find the body laid out like a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork.  He's even more surprised to learn that this death by "sticking" is a traditional method of killing a witch.
     Baffled by the ritualized murder scene, Lean secretly enlists the help of historian Helen Prescott and brilliant criminalist Perceval Grey.  Distrusted by officials because of his mixed Abenaki Indian ancestry, Grey is even more notorious for combining modern investigative techniques with an almost eerie perceptiveness.  Although skeptical of each other's methods, together the detectives pursue the killer's trail through postmortems and opium dens, into the spiritualist societies and lunatic asylums of gothic New England.
     Before the killer closes in on his final victim, Lean and Grey must decipher the secret pattern to these murders--a pattern hidden within the dark history of the Salem witch trials.

The Truth of All Things

by Kieran Shields

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Overall Review:  

The Truth of All Things is an excellent crime novel set in late 19th century Portland, Maine.  The similarity between the main character, Perceval Grey, and Sherlock Holmes is very apparent in their methods of detective work and in their opinions of society, but do not think that they are carbon copies of each other.  Grey has a uniqueness to him that comes from his background and own personal demons. Superbly written by Shields, Grey is a rare character that comes alive and is very memorable.  Grey is somebody everyone wants to know or would love to meet.  All of Shields' characters are given a depth that is very enjoyable to the reader. Even the smallest character that has but a paragraph of story dedicated to them comes to life and leaves no doubt about the quality of writing done by the author.


The story is an interesting mix of history and detective work woven together into a unique story.  The author is obviously familiar with 1892 Portland as well as the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.  The mystery story is not easily solved, actual detective work and methods are used expertly, and the setting is full and complete.  Having discerned the details of a crime scene before actually seeing it, Grey's response to the question of, how did you know is fitting: "Everything that can be observed offers the opportunity to draw conclusions as to what must have occurred previously."  Those who have read Sherlock Holmes will recognize this philosophy.


The murders and witchcraft in the book are gruesome and not for the faint of heart, but most of the blood and gore is not "witnessed" by the reader.  It is in the analysis of the crime scenes that the story becomes graphic.  The darker side of New England's history is explored and sometimes not pretty.  An excellent piece of storytelling and a great beginning to a great character, I highly recommend this book.

Content Analysis:  

Language/Profanity: 6 Religious exclamations; 8 Mild obscenities; 5 Religious profanities; 13 Derogatory names; 9 Scatological words; 7 Anatomical terms.


Violence/Gore:  Few implied threats mainly involving street justice or organized crime; Several second hand accounts of violence involving Salem witch trials and the punishments of those convicted of witchcraft; One second hand account of a cabin being burned down and the inhabitants being hung or fleeing into the woods.  This account is repeated several times and is investigated thoroughly thus being highly descriptive;  Murder victims bodies and the details of their death are very descriptive and are repeatedly references throughout the book, although you don't "witness" the actual murder, blood and gore is described in detail.  Examples include: severed limbs and tongue, blood draining, throat cut, deep knife cuts and puncture wounds, removal of unborn fetus;  Two fist fights that involve destruction of property;  Scary scenes include woman chased by an intruder in a dark library, seance, kidnapping of a woman and child, and sneaking around a cemetary looking for evidence of a murder; Flashback of a student having their knuckles rapped by tutor;  Character is hit by a train, blood and gore is described in detail; Few chase and gun fight scenes characters are wounded and killed; Characters light themselves on fire and falls to their death several stories into the ocean;  Characters are hung.  


Sex/Nudity:  Several implied non-detailed sexual activities involving prostitutes;  Reference to unwed pregnancy;  Accusations of necrophilia; Nudity is involved in some of the murder victims; A character flirts and makes commits about females he has known, not graphic in nature.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Prostitution; Witchcraft; Murder; Racism; Mental Illness; Torture; Kidnapping; Poverty; Death of Family Member.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Many characters drink alcohol and smoke cigerettes; Laudnum is used occasionally; Poison and ether used.

Reviewed By Matthew
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