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A Study in Revenge: A Novel by Kieran…

A Study in Revenge: A Novel

by Kieran Shields

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i love the pairing of archie lean and percival grey. and shields is great at the historical settings. ( )
  Booktrovert | Jul 5, 2013 |
Even after reading his first book in this series, I NEVER saw the twist coming at the end. Great storytelling! ( )
  MrsMich02 | Jun 6, 2013 |
By Kieran Shields
Crown Publishers (Random House), 372 pgs
Submitted by Random House
Rating: 4, Read This Book!

Deputy Marshal Archie Lean of the Portland Police and private detective Perceval Grey are back in the sophomore effort from Kieran Shields, author of The Truth of All Things, which I reviewed on this site last week. A Study in Revenge may be Mr. Shields's sophomore effort, but it is most assuredly not sophomoric: more confident storytelling, relentless plotting, expert timing, wit, rich historical detail and complex characters.

The year is 1893, one year after the witches and Puritans of The Truth of All Things. This time around we are dealing with Vikings, Phoenicians, runes, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, Baphomet, the philosopher's stone, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., practical jokers and a surfeit of handlebar mustaches. The story opens with the robbery and murder of Frank Cosgrave, a petty thief and picker of locks in Portland, Maine. Curiously, the unfortunate Mr. Cosgrave refuses to stay buried and Archie Lean calls in Perceval Grey to investigate the macabre scene.

Across town, an old and very ill man is dying. Horace Webster calls Grey to his bedside and hires him to find his granddaughter, missing for a year now. At the reading of Mr. Webster's will, we discover that the granddaughter is not the only thing missing. Gone from the estate lawyer's offices is an object called the thunderstone, an artifact passed down in the Webster family for generations, according to the eccentric instructions in the original bequest. There are some seriously weird carvings on this stone, alchemical symbols believed by more than a few unhinged personalities to hold the key to eternal life, the literal kind.

These three investigations continue on parallel lines until they intersect with a bang. Greed, arrogance, superstition, Jotham Marsh, and Grey's love life come together in an explosive plot twist, revealing a maniacal lust for revenge that threatens to take down everyone and everything in its path.

I feel the need to share a few examples of dialogue:

A common misconception. No, that's not Satan. It's Baphomet.
I beg your pardon? Lean said.
Baphomet. Don't be surprised never to have heard of him. He's essentially a fabricated pagan deity.
As opposed to what? Grey asked. A genuine pagan deity?

And this:

...But anyone familiar with Eliphas Levi's work would know of the man's fascination with alchemy.
Understandable, Lean muttered. Who wouldn't want to be able to spin straw into gold?
Lead into gold, not straw, Grey corrected him. You're thinking of Rumpelstiltskin.

One more:

Just a moment. Let me see if I'm understanding you correctly. My fears for your safety are unfounded...because somebody already tried to kill you before these threats were posted?
In a manner of speaking. That is, I'm in no more danger now than I was this time yesterday, before these ridiculous paintings appeared.
You have the oddest way of looking at life, Lean said.
You'd have little use for me otherwise, Grey said.

I do enjoy these books so: sharp dialogue; the belief that ideas matter, that they shape the personal and the political; a sophisticated story; women who are players, integral to the plot, not mere window-dressing or objects to be acted upon. The author trusts his audience. Mr. Shields believes that we are equal to the task and never condescends to us. I can't impress upon you enough how rare that is, and how appreciated. The only false note was struck in the last lines of the epilogue (which I don't think was necessary), rather ham-handedly assuring us that there is a sequel in the offing. But no matter. We know there is a third book on the way. Write faster Mr. Shields!

OK, I lied - one more, from a conversation between Jotham Marsh and Perceval Grey:

Marsh: ...Would you blame the shopkeeper for murder because he sold a man a fishing rod? Only because later that fisherman, in his misguided fervor, comes to fatal blows with another over a favored fishing spot?

Grey: Of course not. But what of the shopkeeper who fills a young man's head with tales of a magical fish who swims in a mystical pond and will grant wishes to any angler who catches it. 'Oh, and by the way,' whispers the shopkeeper, 'the only bait that works is human flesh.' ( )
  TexasBookLover | Apr 24, 2013 |
Author: Kieran Shields
Published by: Crown Publishers
Age Recommended: YA - Adult
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Book Blog For: GMTA
Rating: 4


"A Study in Revenge" by Kieran Shields was a good mystery, historical,thriller series. I have not read the first book 'The Truth of all Things' and maybe that was why I didn't understand some parts of this novel but what I could understand ....I did like. I had a feeling I was still missing something that had gone on in the first novel...but again it was a very intriguing historical read...Sort of like the 'Sherlock Holmes' novels. This story setting was from Portland, Maine in the year of 1893. In this novel we have a 'Victorian' private investiagator and police consultant... Perceval Grey and we have Archie Lean who is a dedicated 'Deputy of Police'...dedicated to the State and its people. Grey and Lean come together trying to unravel a mystery and that is:

"The body of a local thief is discovered under unusual circumstances, with evidence of the occult (or at least somebody trying to stage it to look that way). The problem is, the thief in question was killed days earlier and was already buried, meaning that whoever staged the scene also robbed his grave."

Be ready for a lots of twist and turns...keep up or you could get lost...also be ready for "Viking runes, explosions, the occult, mysterious tunnels, robberies, shootings, burnings, and grave robbing, just to name some." It will be a long read but if you continue to will find out what the 'Revenge" was in the story! I will stop there to say you must pick up " Study in Revenge" to see what all the author had instore for the reader. The characters all well developed and the author did some job working all this in with some some religion and along with the murders that will tie in three different mysteries.

If you are in for a historical thriller mystery "A Study in Revenge" would be a good read that I would recommend for you ( )
  arlenadean | Apr 1, 2013 |
ate 1800's and although the atmosphere of this series is somewhat Victorian, the actual setting is in Portland Maine. Deputy Archie Lean is called to the investigate the double death of a man and the situation is so peculiar he must call in criminalist Percival Grey. This duo is a bit reminiscent of Sherlock and Watson, but Grey is not quite as arrogant as Sherlock. This is a very interesting series, this book being the second, love the well developed characters and the story itself which ties together three different threads. These atmospheric novels are always slower paced with detailed scenery and in depth analysis of the evidence. Another wonderful new series. ( )
  Beamis12 | Dec 13, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307985768, Hardcover)

In 1893, a trail of ashen footprints leads Deputy Archie Lean to the body of a murdered thief. The man’s exposed flesh has been horribly burned and occult symbols mark the nearby walls. Most troubling of all is what Lean witnessed two days earlier: this same man being lowered into his grave without a burn mark on him.  Once again, the Portland, Maine, police deputy must turn to the brilliant criminalist Perceval Grey for help. 

Grey, a half-Abenaki Indian detective,  faces problems of  his own after agreeing to an elderly tycoon’s death-bed plea to find his long-lost granddaughter. The dying man’s family is less interested in the missing heiress than with the recent theft of an obscure heirloom carved with curious symbols. As the family’s shadowy history is revealed, the three mysteries intersect to draw Lean and Grey into a maze of murder, deceit, and revenge. Each deadly new clue points toward an even greater puzzle—one that will pit Grey against a devious murderer in a race to unlock an ancient and mysterious power.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:38 -0400)

A sequel to The Truth of All Things finds late-19th century police detective Archie Lean and his half-Native American partner, Perceval Grey, investigating the theft of a recently buried body and the staging of a bizarre occult scene that is linked to a centuries-old magical relic.… (more)

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