Excerpt of The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields
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As one of Portland's three deputy marshals, Lean was in a small
minority of citizens with a telephone in his home. After receiving
the call, he had hurried down to meet the first patrolman who'd answered
the watchman's frantic whistle. Other officers had since
swept through the building, but Lean had kept them away from the
body. He'd ordered the first patrolman to stand guard over the watchman
inside the latter's shack, quarantining the only two known witnesses
to the horrific details of the body. The dozen or so other buildings
that made up the Portland Company's rail-car manufacturing grounds
had been searched as well. He'd used the telephone in the company office
to speak with the marshal and then sent word to the station to call
in every available patrolman. Almost every one of Portland's three
dozen police officers was now out on foot, searching for signs of the
He looked down at the body once more. The passage of time since
Lean had first viewed the corpse did nothing to alleviate the unexpected
despair he'd felt when he first stood over the young woman's
body and her face had still been warm to the touch. Even that last hint
of life had since been stolen away. Now the woman's soul was one
more hour removed from this world. The wide, unknowing look on
her face remained, and the senseless horror of it all weighed on Lean.
He fought down the urge to yank away the pitchfork still planted
in her neck.
Dr. Virgil Steig was a slight man of about sixty with a neatly
trimmed mustache and beard gone mostly white. From where
he stood by the entrance to the machine shop, the doctor could hear
the gentle sloshing of the harbor against the wharf pilings just a
good stone's throw away. The various buildings of the locomotive
foundry and machine works were crammed into ten waterfront acres
near Portland's East End. At the sound of approaching horseshoes and
the clatter of carriage wheels over the cobblestones, the doctor returned
his attention to the land. He let his gaze drift past the carriage
to the open space before him, then up to the dome of the Grand Trunk
Railway. Dr. Steig stepped away from the machine shop door, ready to
greet the mayor's landau as it arrived at the entrance to the Portland
Company. A uniformed patrolman moved across the compound and
opened the carriage door. The ample frame of Mayor Darius Ingraham
disgorged itself from the cab.
"Dr. Steig. I should have known," the mayor said between heavy
breaths. "The officer didn't mention it was you."
"Would you have come if he had?"
"This is no hour for jokes. Why the hell am I here?"
"I thought you'd want to see this, in a manner of speaking. It's
going to cause quite a stir: a young woman." Dr. Steig led the mayor
toward the front door.
"That's something. I mean, it could be worse."
"Don't get your hopes up," said Dr. Steig.
"Who's the investigator?"
The mayor drew in his breath.
"You appointed him," said the doctor.
"There were other considerations."
"Aren't there always?"
The mayor seemed to weigh the need to defend himself but settled
for, "Where is he?"
"Inside with the body."
"I don't know; he seems bright enough," the mayor said.
"Plenty bright. Not the most seasoned."
"He's been around a few years."
"I have scars older than him." The doctor turned and reached for
the doorknob. "I just think this case might warrant someone with a bit
"It's just a dead whore, Virgil."
"And Macbeth is just a play about a Scotsman. All the same, better
prepare yourself for what you're about to see." Dr. Steig led the
way inside. Deputy Marshal Archie Lean was standing twenty paces
Excerpted from The Truth of All Things
by Kieran Shields. Copyright © 2012 by Kieran Shields.
Excerpted by permission of Crown. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.