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A Study in Revenge

Cover of A Study in Revenge

A Study in Revenge

A Novel
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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...
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...
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Description-
  • 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.

Excerpts-
  • [ Chapter 1 ]

    There was something strange about the stone, but Frank Cosgrove liked the feel of it. He'd first held it less than an hour ago. Since then it had remained hidden safely inside a cloth sack stuffed into a deep pocket of his coat. In the time it took him to make his winding, moonlit journey across Portland, Maine's maze of angled streets, he'd already formed the habit of running his fingertips over it. A handful of etched symbols marred a surface polished as smooth as glass. Even though the carvings proved otherwise, some corner of his brain was tempted to believe the impossible notion that the stone had never been worked by human hands. The stone had a calming effect; it took his mind off the dull ache that was working its way up his leg.

    Still, Cosgrove would never think of paying good money for it, not even a tenth of the amount he was getting paid to steal it. That was the beauty of this type of thing, a one-off piece. Cash was cash, never more than a flat deal. But something like this stone, there was always someone with enough taste to pay a lot for it. They called it taste, but Frank knew that was just another word for a guy with one of two problems: Either he suspects he's got too much money on his hands or he's got a woman who wants him to prove it.

    He turned right onto Walnut Street and stared at his pocketwatch in the moonlight. Five minutes to three; he was right on time. The uphill walk was starting to take its toll, and part of him regretted his selection of a meeting place, but the end was in sight. Another block ahead, just past the intersection with North Street, he saw the steep earthen embankment of the Munjoy Hill Reservoir. The massive four-acre structure marked a sort of outpost at the edge of the working-class neighborhood. The land to the north and east was about the last open, undeveloped space on the Neck, the peninsula that made up almost the entire city. Besides being a quiet area where he was unlikely to be noticed this late, the reservoir had the added virtue of being a perfect dumping ground. If any police showed, he could heave the stone over the bank. The reservoir was forty feet deep inside and held twenty million gallons of water. He'd be out of Maine long before anyone ever managed to bring the stone back up.

    Cosgrove made his way around the well-cemented hardpan that constituted the lower portion of the embankment. Farther along Walnut Street, a couple of houses stood in darkness. In the other direction, the grassy slope fell away to reveal the darkly shimmering surface of Portland's Back Cove. The wooden span of Tukey's Bridge crossed at the point where the nearly enclosed tidal cove narrowed and emptied out into Casco Bay.

    As he neared the northeast corner of the reservoir, Cosgrove slowed his pace when a figure stepped into view. Even in the dark, he could tell that this wasn't his man.

    "What's this?" Cosgrove's entire body tensed, preparing to bolt at any sign of trouble. "You're not--"

    "Just a minor alteration, Mr. Cosgrove. You needn't worry; your money's all here." He shook a small leather traveling bag. The contents gave off a dull shuffling sound as they bumped against the bag's rigid frame. "You have it?"

    "I wouldn't bother coming empty-handed, would I?" Cosgrove asked.

    "No. That would be a mistake."

    Cosgrove drew the cloth sack out of his coat pocket. He held it up for the man to see. The gibbous moon was enough for the outline of the object to be visible: a smoothed, oblong shape of about eight inches in length.

    "That's good," the man said. "Very good, Mr. Cosgrove."

    "The deal I had was for five hundred." The sudden appearance of a stranger was an...

About the Author-
  • KIERAN SHIELDS grew up in Portland, Maine. He graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of Maine School of Law. His first novel, The Truth of All Things, was published by Crown in March 2012. Shields continues to reside along the coast of Maine with his wife and two children.

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    Crown Publishing Group
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