Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Salem Witch Trials, the Occult, Lunatic Asylums and Murder



A bizarre crime is committed in Portland Maine in 1892. A prostitute is found dead, but this is not a typical murder. Her body is placed in a the shape of a pentagram, stuck through the throat with a pitchfork, and a saying in Abenaki, an Indian language, is written on a beam above her. Archie Lean, a new Deputy Marshall, is given the task of finding the madman who committed this outrageous crime. Because of his Indian heritage and detection skills, Percival Grey is called on to assist in the investigation. At first the two men, don't get on, but as Lean recognizes the importance of Grey's skills he increasingly relies on him.

In addition to the occult, the Salem Witch trials are heavily figured in the mystery. The two detectives, trying to unravel the connections between the crime and those that follow, visit a lunatic asylum, an Indian traveling show, and the Portland and Harvard Libraries. They are ably assisted in their search by Helen Prescott, a historical researcher, and her uncle, Dr. Steig, the coroner.

I recommend this book if you like period mystries, are fascinated by the ocult, or interested in the Salem witch trials. The book uses them all and manages to tie them together to make a very readable mystery. The book is well done and will keep you turning pages. A few of the sections drag with more description than action, but that will appeal to some readers. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Portland in the 1890's.

I reviewed this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.