Sunday, February 10, 2013

Vengeance is Mine....

A STUDY IN REVENGE (#2 in the Archie Lean series)
Kieran Shields
Crown Books
January 2013

A Study in Revenge is a very good follow up to The Truth of All Things, featuring Deputy Archie Lean and Perceval Gray, set in 1892 Portland ME.  A year has passed since the events which brought Grey and Lean together. When Lean has another crime with occult overtones he somewhat reluctantly calls on Grey for assistance in the investigation. A petty thief is discovered with gruesome burns in an abandoned house- the problem is that man had already been murdered and buried! Occult symbols appear at the scene, both on the body and in the house.

The sinister Jotham Marsh, leader of an occult cult, from The Truth of All Things, is an obvious suspect in the new death. Archie and Grey are certain he is at the bottom of this crime. Grey is involved as well in a parallel investigation of the theft of the "Thunderstone", a mysterious carved stone which has been in the Webster family for centuries. The two investigations intersect with explosive results. Once again both period detail and characterizations are excellent. I find Grey a fascinating character and was happy to get more background on his life and the events which formed his enigmatic personality. I was also pleased to have the sudden appearance of an unknown accomplice that bothered me somewhat in The Truth of All Things explained and expanded on. It is clear that Jotham Marsh is the Moriarty to Grey's Sherlock and A Study in Revenge ends with a cliff-hanger that only made me more eager for the next book.

I can't say I enjoyed A Study in Revenge quite as much, but that is more my personal taste than the fault of the book. I'm afraid that both code-breaking and alchemical formulas tend to make my eyes cross. For those who enjoy word and math puzzles I'm sure it's a plus, but I lack the patience for them. 

RATING- 3.5 Stars

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Truth of All Things

The Truth of All Things
Kieran Shields
Crown Books
March 2012

When I ran across Kieran Shield's debut mystery, The Truth of All Things, I thought it would be right up my alley. Possible witchcraft, the ritualistic murder of a prostitute, and a Sherlockian sleuth, all set in 1892 Portland, Maine. I particularly like mysteries set in places I am at least somewhat familiar with. As a long time summer visitor to Maine, I always welcome a chance to read books with Maine settings.

The Truth of All Things introduces us to a vibrant port and manufacturing city and newly appointed, verse-quoting Deputy Marshall Archie Lean. Lean is baffled by the horrifying murder scene and when he discovers that the prostitute died by a traditional way to kill witches, he enlists the aid of Perceval Grey and Helen Prescott. Grey is a brilliant half-Indian private detective and Helen an historian. The team discovers links to the Salem Witch trials, the Indian Wars and a madman intent on summoning a demon. The chase takes them into crime scenes, spiritualist societies and opium dens and the danger becomes very personal.

Billed as the Archie Lean Series #1, The Truth of All Things is a fast paced and very convoluted mystery. I found Perceval Grey a much more interesting character than Lean. Grey is caught between his ethnic heritage and his upbringing and education in the white world. He seems to cope with his inevitable conflicts by cultivating a super rational, unemotional facade- very much like Sherlock Holmes. I am looking forward to and in fact will soon begin the second in the series, A Study in Revenge. 

RATING- 4 Pitchforks