The novel describes the brutal events in Portland, Maine in 1892. Maggie Keene's body is found. It appears to be a ritual killing with her body severely mutilated.
Deputy Marshall Archie Lean is the prime investigator but this case is like nothing he's ever seen. Dr. Virgil Steig asks one of his former students for help. Perceval Grey is a brilliant criminalist. He's part Abenaki Indian and a Pinkerton agent.
There are a number of uncanny similarities with this plot and Matthew Pearl's recent novel, "The Technologists."
Both novels take place in New England, this one is Portland, Maine, Pearl's novel is set in Boston. Both novels are set in the period after the civil war, this one is 1892, Pearl's 1868. Both novels have the investigator use modern investigatory techniques. In this novel, Perceval Grey uses them and in Pearl's Marcus Mansfield is a graduate from MIT and uses science in his work.
Both men are ahead of their times in using these techniques. In addition, there is a bright young woman helping with the investigation in both novels. They also have witchcraft as having something to do with the story.
In "The Truth of All Things," the author demonstrates his talent for making his characters believable and worthy of our interest. However, this can result in some of the characters being rather like cardboard caricatures.
The exception is Archie Lean. We become interested in him for his determination to solve the case. We also learn that his is a family man. He and his wife are expecting a child. Their concern for their crowded home and the economics of an expanding family are things most can relate to.
Helen Prescott assists the investigation. She is a historian and knowledgeable in the history of the Salem witch trials. She's a modern woman of the day and doesn't let the other characters tell her what she can do.
It is the connection to the Salem witch trials which separates this novel from the norm. We are given information on the names and details of the people who were tried for being witches in Salem and this is tied in with the events of the main story in the novel.
3 1/12 stars moving up to 4.
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About the reviewer
Mike Draper (mikedraper)
Michael A.Draper is a financial planner with Mass Mutual in North Haven, CT. Married to Diana for 48 years, one son and daughter-in-law and two lovely granddaughters. … more
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