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A Study in Revenge

By Kieran Shields

A Study in Revenge
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2013,
    384 pages.

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Vivian Harrington (12/22/12)

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.
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