Book Review: The Truth of All Things

The Truth of All Things - Kieran Shields

Book: The Truth of All Things


Author: Kieran Shields


Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Occult/Historical


Summary: When 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 criminalist Perceval Grey. Although skeptical of one another's methods, the team pursues the killer's lurid trail through postmortems and opium dens and deep into the spiritualist societies and lunatic asylums of gothic New England. The closer they come to answers, the more dangerous their hunt becomes. Before the killer closes in on his final victim, they must decipher the secret pattern to these murders - a pattern hidden within the dark history of the Salem witch trials. - Broadway Paperbacks, 2012.



This book had multiple points of interest for me: mystery, supernatural items, and the Salem Witch Trials. It took me a while to sink into the world of the book because the writing style was very different from other books. It was more factual, more rigid - less emotion and more bare bones, to the point. I still enjoyed the book very much.


Spoilers will be kept to a minimum.


The murder described in the summary occurs and Lean is more forced to work with Grey than voluntarily seeking him out. This is because Lean doesn't know Grey - a mutual acquaintance does. Though the two men clash a little in their early days of knowing each other, they eventually warm to each other and become amicable by story's end.


Grey, it seems to me, is meant to be an American Sherlock Holmes. He's not a pioneer of forensic science so much as using it without explaining what exactly he's doing. He doesn't explain what he does or why he does it to Lean's "Watson" for the sake Lean's own understanding. I wouldn't call it friendship. It's more of a kinship or companionship with a mutual respect for each other. I would also say that, even though hints of his background are given from time to time, Grey is even somewhat colder than Holmes.


The plot itself is a little slow at first, but it gets more exciting with each chapter. Shields takes the time to develop the mystery. He probes each avenue, each thread that is brought up so that nothing is left unexplored. It's very engaging and I enjoyed every moment of it. It is fully fleshed out. There are no loose ends. It had a bunch of twists and turns that caught me off guard. I was kept in suspense the whole time. I also enjoyed learning more about the Salem Witch Trials and old Portland.


I have no issues with the story and I want to read the sequel. I can see how someone might think his writing is too rigid and not very soft, but I didn't mind. If you enjoy the Salem Witch Trials, the occult, or mysteries in general, you’ll like this book.


Overall, I give The Truth of All Things an A+.




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