Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading. This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of The Truth Of All Things by Kieran Shields. As usual, I'm reading ahead for my mystery group selections. In October, we'll be discussing mysteries set in the Victorian Age or at least the 1800's. This is a book I've had on my shelf for a long time. It's set in Portland, Maine in the year 1892. See what you think:
At the sound of footsteps in the alley, Maggie Keene dimmed the gas lamp and sidled up to the room's only window. She eased the curtains aside, her fingers barely touching the paper-thin material for fear it might tear and crumble. The gap between two neighboring tenement houses allowed a slice of moonlight to pierce the narrow passageway below. A man in a brown derby hurried past, stepping over the remains of a smashed crate. The splintered boards lay scattered on the ground like animals bones bleached a ghastly white by long exposure.
Maggie cupped a hand against the glass and peered in the other direction. There was still no sign of John. Her eyes drifted past the lights of the Grand Trunk Railway Station, down toward the waterfront of Portland, Maine. The harbor was a dark canvas, interrupted only by a scattering of ships' lamps bobbing on the tide. She smiled at a faint memory: fireflies hovering over a field on a summer night. She clung to the image for a few seconds until the distant lights began to blur. The laudanum mixture made her feel remote and empty. It threatened to lull her to sleep until a familiar pain twisted in her gut. A vague, unformed prayer sped through her mind, begging God to let her be all right.
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.
Do you think you'd keep reading? This seems like just the sort of book that would fit with a theme of gothic Victorian mysteries - even if it's set in America and not foggy London.