In the year 1869, in post-Civil-War Philadelphia, Edward Clark is a crime journalist. When his editor asks him to take on the job of exposing the city’s bogus mediums, Edward feels the job is beneath his dignity. He does the work, against his better judgment, and suddenly finds himself a suspect in a murder investigation—and investigation that is somehow connected with a past he’d long ago left behind.
Edward finds an unlikely ally in Lucy Collins, the first medium he worked to expose as the fraud that she was. Both have their reasons for wanting their names cleared of suspicion as soon as possible, so they take it upon themselves to investigate. In the process, they learn more about Edward’s past, the world of spiritualism, and the strange secrets of the other murder suspects.
The story that follows is a richly developed historical murder mystery with a hint of the supernatural. There were surprising twists throughout the development of the story. The characters were well developed and interesting. The story was fast paced. And above all, the research was amazing. From the detailed description of the Fairmount Waterworks to the tone of the post-Civil-War environment to the real life character of P.T. Barnum…the setting was vividly brought to life.
I thought the supernatural elements of the story were perfectly intertwined with the plot. Nothing was overdone and it was all balanced by the skepticism of Edward and the blatant fraudulence of Lucy. By the time Edward’s true past is brought to light, I was fully invested in the story and its magic.
The last time I enjoyed a historical mystery this much was Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club, so for lovers of that book, or novels by Caleb Carr, I highly recommend Things Half in Shadow. It should at once satisfy readers of thrillers, mysteries, historicals, or ghost stories. While the novel was brought to a satisfying conclusion, it also opened up a whole new world of possibilities for sequels. So I hope to see more of the adventures of Edward Clark and Lucy Collins from Alan Finn.
A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.