Deputy Marshal Archie Lean stands over the dead body of a young woman, laid out in a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork. Bewildered by the gruesome nature of the murder, Lean enlists the help of local historian Helen Prescott and brilliant, slightly eccentric, criminalist Perceval Grey.
Before long it becomes apparent that although it is two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, the summer of 1892 is the scene of a new kind of witch hunt. One that will take the unlikely crew of investigators to the grisly underbelly of Portland, Maine and have them chasing a devious killer through clues from the history of Salem.
I was very intrigued when I heard about this book; I’m always on the look out for good Salem historical novel. This mystery novel is intelligent and well written, although at times a bit slow. Author Kieran Shields has obviously done a tremendous amount of in-depth research and he alludes to some interesting and not well known facts about the Salem Witch Trials. The characters are intelligent and complicated, which makes each one very readable and Shields’ mystery is layered and well-crafted.
Overall, a good read, but not as thrilling or gripping as I had hoped.
Content note: Grisly descriptions of murders, murder scenes and postmortems; references to prostitution, drugs and sex; a few swear words.
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