In 1893, a trail of ashen footprints leads Deputy Archie Lean to the body of a murdered thief. The man's exposed flesh has been horribly burned and occult symbols mark the nearby walls. Most troubling of all is what Lean witnessed two days earlier: this same man being lowered into his grave without a burn mark on him. Once again, the Portland, Maine, police deputy must turn to the brilliant criminalist Perceval Grey for help.
Grey, a half-Abenaki Indian detective, faces problems of his own after agreeing to an elderly tycoon's death-bed plea to find his long-lost granddaughter. The dying man's family is less interested in the missing heiress than with the recent theft of an obscure heirloom carved with curious symbols. As the family's shadowy history is revealed, the three mysteries intersect to draw Lean and Grey into a maze of murder, deceit, and revenge. Each deadly new clue points toward an even greater puzzleone that will pit Grey against a devious murderer in a race to unlock an ancient and mysterious power.
"Starred Review. Conan Doyle fans will appreciate the Holmes/Watson-like relationship of Perceval Grey, who's half Abenaki Indian, and deputy Archie Lean of the Portland, Maine, police in Shields's excellent sequel to 2012's The Truth of All Things." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Erudite, mysterious and exciting, with a brooding, brilliant Sherlock-ian detective. The denouement is just as surprising as in Grey's first case." - Kirkus
"Set in New England during the 1890s, A Study of Revenge is a detailed historical mystery with believable characters and an intricate plot ...Grey reminds me of another famous historical investigator, Sherlock Holmes, with his brilliant intellect and unique way of puzzling out crimes. And Archie Lean makes a great partner who keeps them both on track. A great historical mystery series!" - freshfiction.com
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Rated of 5
Convoluted Victorian Gothic
This is a sequel to a book titled The Truth of All Things, which I have not read. It is a detective novel set in Portland, Maine during the 1890’s and features a police investigator named Archie Lean and a private investigator that is half Native American named Perceval Grey.
The story involves the investigation into the death of a petty criminal who was removed from his grave. His corpse, now charred and staged to leave an impression of occult intervention, was left with in an abandoned house as an apparent warning to his thieving companions.
An investigation into a missing relic that may hold the key to mysterious powers derived from alchemy and the request of a dying man to find his missing granddaughter are interwoven.
It is clear the author conducted research into the history of Maine and Portland in particular. The story has an atmosphere of the late 19th Century and the tedium of conducting research before the age of computers. However, some of the language utilized by the characters seems inauthentic to the period, phrases that I’ve not read in books written during that time.
Additionally, I found the plot a bit too convoluted with sub-plots that didn’t serve anything other than to lengthen the book. While I enjoyed much of the main storyline, the peripherals caused my mind to wander and I found myself flipping through pages.
I did actually like the characters of Archie, Perceval and Helen Prescott (who apparently featured prominently in the first book). If you like late Victorian gothic detective stories, giving it a try. I would rate this book 3 special dark chocolate Hershey’s kisses out of 5.
Kieran Shields grew up in Portland, Maine. He graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of Maine School of Law. He continues to reside along the coast of Maine with his wife and two children. This is his first novel.
Kieran Shields: KEER-an (first syllable rhymes with "here")
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