Reviews of The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields

The Truth of All Things

A Novel

by Kieran Shields

The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields X
The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2012, 416 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2013, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer Dawson Oakes
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About this Book

Book Summary

When newly appointed Deputy Marshal Archie Lean is called in to investigate a prostitute's murder in Portland, Maine, he's surprised to find the body laid out like a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork. He's even more surprised to learn that this death by "sticking" is a traditional method of killing a witch...

Two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, in the summer of 1892, a grisly new witch hunt is beginning...

When newly appointed Deputy Marshal Archie Lean is called in to investigate a prostitute's murder in Portland, Maine, he's surprised to find the body laid out like a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork. He's even more surprised to learn that this death by "sticking" is a traditional method of killing a witch.

Baffled by the ritualized murder scene, Lean secretly enlists the help of historian Helen Prescott and brilliant criminalist Perceval Grey. Distrusted by officials because of his mixed Abenaki Indian ancestry, Grey is even more notorious for combining modern investigative techniques with an almost eerie perceptiveness. Although skeptical of each other's methods, together the detectives pursue the killer's trail through postmortems and opium dens, into the spiritualist societies and lunatic asylums of gothic New England.

Before the killer closes in on his final victim, Lean and Grey must decipher the secret pattern to these murders - a pattern hidden within the dark history of the Salem witch trials.

Apart from the fact that the reconstitution of the crime for oneself is the only effective method, it is the only interesting one, the only one that stimulates the inquirer and keeps him awake at his work.

Dr . Hans Gross,
Criminal Investigation

1

At the sound of footsteps in the alley, Maggie Keene dimmed the gas lamp and sidled up to the room's only window. She eased the curtains aside, her fingers barely touching the paper-thin material for fear it might tear and crumble. The gap between two neighboring tenement houses allowed a slice of moonlight to pierce the narrow passageway below. A man in a brown derby hurried past, stepping over the remains of a smashed crate. The splintered boards lay scattered on the ground like animal bones bleached a ghastly white by long exposure.

Maggie cupped a hand against the glass and peered in the other direction. There was still no sign of John. Her eyes drifted past the lights of the Grand Trunk Railway Station, down toward ...

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Kieran Shields's novel, The Truth of All Things, is one literary fusion that's a real treat for readers. It is hard to neatly categorize this novel, and I think to do so would be to miss out on the riches of Shields's storytelling. At once a literary novel and a work of historical fiction, this book is also equal parts great mystery and page-turning gothic-thriller...continued

Full Review (827 words)

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(Reviewed by Jennifer Dawson Oakes).

Media Reviews

Mystery Scene
Beautifully written and sprinkled with historical data… Shields, who is a native of Portland [Maine], offers meticulous research into the city's history in this heart-pounding suspense that should delight any lover of period mysteries.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Both the detailed historical information and the intricate mystery hold your attention to the last page in Shields' startling debut.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Strong characters and a nicely convoluted, intelligent plot bode well for any sequel.

Author Blurb Katherine Howe, New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Kieran Shields has written a knuckle biting gothic mystery of ritual murder, revenge, and the harrowing heritage of witchcraft in New England. Readers will love exploring Shields' world of the eerie faces of nineteenth century Maine, from temperance societies to historical societies to whorehouses and everything in between. This rollicking tale puts an entirely new spin on the legacy of the Salem witch trials, and will keep lovers of historical fiction turning pages until the final gripping conclusion.

Author Blurb Steve Berry
This story brims with rich detail, the line between right and wrong smudged beyond recognition. What a unique and claustrophobic world - Maine at the turn of the 20th century - but the ties to an unspeakable past are haunting and unmistakable. It's a delight from start to finish. A terrific story, told terrifically.

Reader Reviews

Diane S.

The Truth of All Things
Definitely held my interest, since I haven't stopped reading it since I picked it up. Set in 1892, in Portland, a prostitute is murdered and a newly appointed detective and a half Abenaki Indian profiler must team together to solve the case. New ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Abenaki People

One of the main characters in Kieran Shield's The Truth of All Things, Perceval Grey, is of Abenaki descent, a key point in the novel. The Abenaki (ah-buh-nah-kee) tribe is one of the many distinct tribes that make up the larger Algonquian (al-GON-kee-un) Nation of North America. (It is important to note that the Algonquian Nation, should not be confused with the smaller Algonquin Tribe.) The Abenaki people are native to the New England region of the United States, including Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York and Maine; as well as Eastern Canada: Eastern Quebec, New Brunswick, the Canadian Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. They call this region Wobanakik or "Place of the Dawn."

Flag of St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Abenaki The Abenaki people...

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    Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. The Heretic's Daughter tells her story; a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

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