I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn
Published by Gallery Books on December 30, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
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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.\r\n\r\nThe 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.\r\n\r\nNow 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.\r\n\r\nBlending 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...
Historical Fiction has never been my favorite genre, but with the supernatural element and promise of an intriguing mystery, I decided this might be right up my alley. And I was right – this book reminded me of the recent Sherlock Holmes movies, blending mystery, action, a little humor, and even a touch of sarcasm. It was a quick read, and I really enjoyed it, although it never veered into the “must keep all the lights on and quickly peek over my shoulder” territory. Don’t get me wrong – there was lots of action and some creepy moments, but it always felt relatively safe. I liked Edward for several reasons. He’s a crime writer for the local newspaper, but he also has some pretty interesting secrets in his past that he wants to keep buried. He has money, but no desire to be one of those people who just sit around all day, living a life of leisure. The Lucy/Violet triangle was a little predictable, with Edward moaning about how much he detested Lucy, while there is obviously crazy amounts of chemistry between them at every meeting. Violet didn’t have much personality (other than clearly being a “nice girl”), so it was hard for me to feel much of anything for her, especially when Lucy was a spitfire who was overflowing with personality. Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn also has an excellent cast of secondary characters. Mediums, butlers, ghosts, and even P.T. Barnum – they are an eclectic and never dull group of people. The writing was great, and everything was so vividly described that I couldn’t help picturing it as a movie. The ending wrapped up the mystery, but left lots of room for a sequel (or two). I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book, and I have my fingers crossed that there are more installments on the way!