In 1893, a trail of ashen footprints leads Deputy Archie Lean to the body of a murdered thief. The man’s exposed flesh has been horribly burned and occult symbols mark the nearby walls. Most troubling of all is what Lean witnessed two days earlier: this same man being lowered into his grave without a burn mark on him. Once again, the Portland, Maine, police deputy must turn to the brilliant criminalist Perceval Grey for help.
Grey, a half-Abenaki Indian detective, faces problems of his own after agreeing to an elderly tycoon’s death-bed plea to find his long-lost granddaughter. The dying man’s family is less interested in the missing heiress than with the recent theft of an obscure heirloom carved with curious symbols. As the family’s shadowy history is revealed, the three mysteries intersect to draw Lean and Grey into a maze of murder, deceit, and revenge. Each deadly new clue points toward an even greater puzzle—one that will pit Grey against a devious murderer in a race to unlock an ancient and mysterious power.
Two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, in the summer of 1892, a grisly new witch hunt is beginning….
When newly appointed Deputy Marshal Archie Lean is called in to investigate a prostitute’s murder in Portland, Maine, he’s surprised to find the body laid out like a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork. He’s even more surprised to learn that this death by “sticking” is a traditional method of killing a witch.
Baffled by the ritualized murder scene, Lean secretly enlists the help of historian Helen Prescott and brilliant criminalist Perceval Grey. Distrusted by officials because of his mixed Abenaki Indian ancestry, Grey is even more notorious for combining modern investigative techniques with an almost eerie perceptiveness. Although skeptical of each other’s methods, together the detectives pursue the killer’s trail through postmortems and opium dens, into the spiritualist societies and lunatic asylums of gothic New England.
Before the killer closes in on his final victim, Lean and Grey must decipher the secret pattern to these murders–a pattern hidden within the dark history of the Salem witch trials.