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.
I have always have a morbid fascination for the Salem witch trials . Actually ,make that all things esoteric or things that logical reasoning has no answers for. Which is why I wanted to read this book. The idea of this book is brilliant ,and so is the execution. I have immense respect for any writer attempting historical fiction and can only imagine the amount of research that would have gone into creating an authentic feel .
Though this is Kieran's first book , it doesn't feel like a work by a debutant author. I loved the charecterisation of both Preceval Grey and Archie Lean , and feel that this is a hit combo that needs to be watched out for. Grey's reserve and single mindedness is the perfect foil for Lean's earnestness. Both are immensely likable in their own ways and will remind you of Holmes and Dr Watson in more ways than one.Their verbal sparring (in jest , of course) and banter makes the book rather enjoyable. I also liked other characters who help the duo race against time (Helen and Dr Steig) and look forward to reading Kieran's next book.
Story line-wise , I thought that the first hundred off pages were a little dragging , but once the murders start happening frequently , the pace picks up. The ending , though not very unexpected is handled very efficiently and will keep you on the tenterhooks. The author has brilliantly captured Portland in 1892 .
Overall , a nice read brimming with a wealth of information on the Salem Witch Trials and a investigating duo that is fun.
THanks to Crown publishing for sending me this copy yo review. All ideas and opinions in this review are mine and only mine.