The Truth of all Things, a first novel for Kieran Shields, is an interesting, well written book. Set in Portland, Maine in the early 1890's, the story deals with detective deputy Marshall Archie Lean and criminalist Perceval Grey and a series of murders with a connection to the occult.
Lean has been assigned to look into the brutal murder of Maggie Keane, a prostitute. She is protected by one of the major criminals in town and the mayor is very interested in the circumstances of her murder. At the scene of the murder there were religious sayings written in the language of the Abenakis Indians, a tribe local to the area. Grey, part Abenakis and part white recognizes not only the language used in the writing, but the meaning of the words as well.
Dr. Virgil Steig is the local coroner. He examines Keane's body and is disturbed by the manner of death. It is actually his niece, Helen Prescott, a local library worker, who connects the manner of Maggie's death to the Salem witch trials 200 years earlier. Another dead body soon follows, and Grey is sure that Maggie is actually the second murder in a series. This connection to the Salem witch trials is the heart of the book.
Lean, Grey, Dr. Steig and Helen piece together the motivation of the murderer by looking at the information that is being used to do a presentation at the local library ( which Helen works at) celebrating the 200th anniversary of the witch trials. This leads to the investigators discovering there are even more murders in the series and there is a local connection, and an ancient book at the heart of the murders.
The story line moves in a relatively straight forward manner. That's not to say there aren't some twists and surprises that will keep you reading. What's even better is that while the author doesn't neatly wrap everything up, the loose ends will make for another excellent read. I recommend this book and am looking forward to the next one.
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