This historical novel certainly captured my attention. The novel's setting in1869 Philadelphia with the Civil War fresh in everyone's minds, makes a perfect backdrop for a supernatural mystery.
The protagonist, Edward Clark, is a wealthy yet modest crime reporter. In the aftermath of the Civil War families devastated by the loss of their loved ones are desperate to contact their beloved one last time. The result is a rise in visits to local mediums.
But do mediums really have the ability to speak with the dead? Edward thinks not and is assigned to do a story to expose mediums as a hoax. The young reporter's investigation leads him to the infamous and equally young medium, Lucy Collins.
Unsurprisingly, Edward discovers the tricks Lucy uses to deceive her clients. And with the threat of being exposed, the medium turns to blackmail and has Edward expose only her rivals. But then another medium, Lenora Grimes Pastor, turns up dead, some say by the hands of a ghost. Now the real fun begins, as suspects Edward and Lucy try to prove their innocence.
I found Things Half in Shadow an enjoyable read. The setting was a nice departure from most of the mystery novels set in the here and now that I read. The author's knowledge of historical details shines through and is beautifully blended with fiction. The supernatural element of the story just makes it that much more enjoyable...who doesn't love a good ghost story?!
Postbellum America makes for a haunting backdrop in this historical and supernatural tale of moonlit cemeteries, masked balls, cunning mediums, and terrifying secrets waiting to be unearthed by an intrepid crime reporter.
The year is 1869, and the Civil War haunts the city of Philadelphia like a stubborn ghost. Mothers in black continue to mourn their lost sons. Photographs of the dead adorn dim sitting rooms. Maimed and broken men roam the streets. One of those men is Edward Clark, who is still tormented by what he saw during the war. Also constantly in his thoughts is another, more distant tragedy—the murder of his mother at the hands of his father, the famed magician Magellan Holmes...a crime that Edward witnessed when he was only ten.
Now a crime reporter for one of the city’s largest newspapers, Edward is asked to use his knowledge of illusions and visual trickery to expose the influx of mediums that descended on Philadelphia in the wake of the war. His first target is Mrs. Lucy Collins, a young widow who uses old-fashioned sleight of hand to prey on grieving families. Soon, Edward and Lucy become entwined in the murder of Lenora Grimes Pastor, the city’s most highly regarded—and by all accounts, legitimate—medium, who dies mid-séance. With their reputations and livelihoods at risk, Edward and Lucy set out to find the real killer, and in the process unearth a terrifying hive of secrets that reaches well beyond Mrs. Pastor.
Blending historical detail with flights of fancy, Things Half in Shadow is a riveting thriller where Medium and The Sixth Sense meet The Alienist—and where nothing is quite as it seems…