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-seance. 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.
Things Half in Shadow is a mystery blended with the supernatural. Set in Postbellum America (1869 Philadelphia), Shadow is told in the first person narrative by Edward Clark. Shadow enters the world of Spiritualism, Mediums, and a secret society bent on ruling the world with their machinations.
Columbus Holmes, son of The Amazing Magellan Holmes, now lives under the name of Edward Clark. Clark is a crime reporter for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. He is also a veteran of the Civil War, and has been having his own struggles coming to terms with surviving the war between the states, while his friends did not. Edward has hidden his real identity for 15 years for fear of being forced to deal with one of the worst nights of his life. The night his own father killed his mother.
Sent out to cover and unearth the dastardly mediums who are using illusions and visual trickery to con mourners out of their hard earned money, Edward meets Lucy Collins and a deep, dark family secret that has been hidden for 15 years. Lucy is a better con, than she is a medium, and just as arrogant. She too, has a secret she's been running from.
Forced into working with Lucy because of the fear that his true identity will come out into the open, Edward soon finds himself shrouded in mysteries, secrets, murder, and an organization (Praediti) that is as secretive as the name itself. Working together, Lucy and Edward find themselves at the center of Lenora Grimes Pastor's murder. The investigation leaves many questions, tears at supposed strong relationships, and forces Edward to accept his own abilities while digging into Pastor's death.
I have to say that Things Half in Shadow was a very entertaining and enjoyable read. Much better than I anticipated. Then again, I do enjoy stories that are told in historical American settings and have a supernatural flavor to them. I liked how Finn puts the mystery together, and slowly unravels it by revealing clues without truly giving away the whodunit until we are ready for it. I liked how Lucy and Edward were able to work together even though they had more differences that similarities. I liked how the relationship grew from antagonism, to something else while being forced to face both of their pasts.
The only negative I have is that apparently this is a standalone novel? I do have a handful of questions that are lingering after the story ends. I need to know more about the Praediti. I need to know more about Edward's own abilities. I need to know who he ends up marrying since his marital status is left up in the air. Does he marry the fiance Violet? Or does he marry the girl that turned his world upside down, Lucy Collins? I need to know if his relationship with his own father leads to secrets being uncovered. Inquiring minds need to know Mr. Finn!
Author - Alan Finn
Title - Things Half in Shadow
Published by Gallery Books
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: E-Book, 448 pages