Excerpt of The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields
(Page 4 of 5)
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"Holy Mother of God!" The mayor drew a handkerchief and clapped
it to his mouth.
"Not by a long shot," Lean said.
The mayor moved forward with halting steps. "Who is she?"
"Maggie Keene," Lean said. "One of Jimmy Farrell's newer girls.
Usually works North Street."
Mayor Ingraham tapped his cane on the ground. "Oh, just wait
until news of this gets out. Blanchard and his temperance fanatics will
drag me over the coals. A dead whore, some bloody killer roaming
about - "
"And a watchman too drunk to notice anything." Lean saw the
mayor grimace. The Maine Temperance Union had been firing broadsides
against the mayor since the day he took office. Newspapers with
Republican leanings routinely ran stories accusing him of failing to
enforce the Maine Liquor Law that - on paper, anyway - had banned
the sale, and nonmedicinal use, of alcohol since 1855. There were even
allegations of payoffs by the larger Irish gangs that controlled much of
the flow of booze into Portland.
"Why isn't Marshal Swett here anyway?" asked the mayor.
"Prefers not to conduct business before breakfast," Lean said.
"Takes a better photograph after a full night's sleep," Dr. Steig
Mayor Ingraham stared at them in disbelief, his jowls starting to
"I did speak with him on the telephone," Lean said with the unenthused
voice of a man obeying dubious orders. "He wants the men to
scour the docks and alleys, dredge up whatever drunks and vagrants
they can. Find one with no memory of the last few hours, some blood
on him, and that's our man." He took a deep drag on his cigarette.
"Apart from those few still on watch outside, I've got everyone out
"Good," Mayor Ingraham said. "So we throw out the net and examine
"You think they'll find him?" Dr. Steig said.
"I don't know what to think about... whatever you call this."
"Someone killed a whore." The calm was returning to the mayor's
face. "Someone in the grip of extreme passion. Wouldn't you agree?"
Lean shrugged. "It's more than just a guy getting rough; a beating
'cause the girl wouldn't give his coins back after he can't finish up his
business. Or worse yet, the horse bolts the gate before the starter's
"All such pleasant imagery aside, I agree," said Dr. Steig. "This
doesn't appear to be a blind rage or a drunken fit. The presentation of
the body is all wrong."
Mayor Ingraham frowned at the opinion. "What, then? What sort
of man would do such a thing?"
Lean could almost picture the images that must have been running
through the mayor's mind. The editorial cartoons would show a caricatured,
blurry-eyed Irish watchman and paint the mayor hoisting the
whiskey jug for the ape-faced brute to drink from. Now the mayor's
eyes lit up at the prospect of pinning this all on something other than
demon rum and his failure to curb the flow of alcohol.
"We'll roust Farrell's joint," Lean said. "See if the other girls will
talk. She's dressed rather fancy for the work; maybe her friends
will know who she was getting so dudded up for."
"You don't sound hopeful," Dr. Steig said.
Lean crushed his cigarette beneath his heel. "Never seen anything
quite so . . ." He failed to finish the thought before being interrupted by
the sound of a carriage approaching.
"Now what?" the mayor said. "The photographer?"
"Can't be," Lean said. "I only sent for him twenty minutes ago."
Dr. Steig cleared his throat. "I know who it is. A thought occurred
to me after I saw the body, and I telephoned for someone. Now, it's a
rather unusual step I'm suggesting."
"Why not?" said the mayor, his voice leaden with disappointment.
"Desperate times and all that rot."
"There's a man recently returned to Portland. The grandson of my
old commander, Major Grey. The young man was a student in some of
my anatomy classes. Would've made a great surgeon, actually - "
"Cyrus Grey? Wait a minute - that scrawny red-Indian boy of
his?" A look of puzzled doubt landed on the mayor's face.
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.