March 11, 2012A romance book, a romance book! My kingdom for a romance book!
I’ve had a number of epiphanies while reading The Truth of all Things. One of them is I’m not particularly fond of the killing off of sympathetic characters. I also came to the conclusion that I will probably never read murder mysteries with the same enjoyment with which I read romance.
Another epiphany! In order for me to appreciate a book, I absolutely must have brain speak! Doesn’t matter how well an author can write, if I can’t see inside those little noggins I am uncomfortable. I must must must know what’s going on! I don’t care if it is a mystery or if the author is trying to create another enigmatic Sherlock Holmes – never liked Mr. Know-it-all-without-any-personality Sherlock Holmes all that much anyway. Although, the one main character in this book, Grey, did smirk occasionally. I guess that means something, not sure what. It must have been up to me to insert the meaning.
Let’s look at those characters shall we? We have three main characters: Deputy Marshal Archie Lean, the mysterious Sherlock Holmes wanna-be; Percival Grey; and Mrs. Prescott. There are also a gazillion secondary characters, who are hard to keep track of and divided up into victim-suspect categories. Just don’t become attached to any of them. I wish I could talk about the three main characters, about their personalities, but I can’t because this is the weakest part of the book. And, that’s too bad, because all three of them could have been so much more. I didn’t know who Archie Lean was, whether he was Grey’s stooge or whether he was a Columbo type. He has a wife and son in the book, but they are cardboard characters who are occasionally brought out from the backdrop to say something.
Grey is too mysterious, too stoic – he needed to have some kind of life pumped into him. It wasn’t until almost the very end when I was allowed to see something of his character.
The best of the three is Mrs. Prescott and that is because she reveals her weaknesses. She’s a strong woman, maybe a suffragette, and intelligent to top it all off. I’m also assuming she may be Grey’s love interest in future books – only because she kisses him…once.
The strongest part of the book was the murder mystery interlaced with some historical facts on the Salem witch trials. If you are a fan of the Salem trials, you’ll love this book. Mr. Shields has included some of the actual transcripts of the trials and other historical facts surrounding those trials, a time period when people seemed to have lost their common sense. There was also a travelogue of Portland, Maine, and some other irrelevant history of the surrounding area – which could have been left out of the book and in its place some character building would have been nice. Oh, well. It was the travelogue that made me put the book down a number of times. We also have Native American prejudice thrown into the narrative. I found it to be an irritant to the overall tone of the book. It was almost as if the author wanted to show how much he knows, so he put as much into this story as he could instead of just focusing on telling us a mystery.
The momentum picks up in the second half of the story; I just wish it had not slowed down so much in the middle. Every author has a rhythm that is unique, and every reader has a melody that flows through their ears better than some. In the case of The Truth of All Things, I was not able to appreciate the melody; I'm sure others will.
Time/Place: 1890's New England, United States
Sensuality Rating: None