Book Title: The Salem Witch Society.
Author: K. N. Shields.
First Published in 2012.
The Salem Witch Society began intensely with an insight into the last few moments of the victim’s life. In these brief paragraphs, Shields did a fantastic job of giving just enough information to make me want to delve into the book to try to understand how this poor woman died. The death, as you’d imagine, was gruesome and of a peculiar enough nature that the local police were not considered enough to investigate the death. In came Perceval Grey, a very much so likable character (unlike the other Grey our poor traumatised minds had been exposed to since 2011 … you know what I’m talking about !)
Perceval Grey was described in the book’s blurb as “a brilliant, eccentric loner with a dazzling mind.” It didn’t take long for me to realise that this description was more than accurate. I’d say the entrance of the character says it all: with the half-naked dead body pinned to the ground and displayed in the shape of a pentagram before them, Mayor Ingraham, Deputy Marshal Lean and Dr Stieg waited for Grey to make his entrance after the sounds of a car had greeted their ears. … but he did not. All three exited the building to find the car and its driver; Grey, however, was busy, in the distance, looking down an alleyway. This, for me, said it all; he did not care for introductions (or company, it seems) and had his mind purely on his job.
As if to reinforce my thoughts, once Grey was aware of the presence of Ingraham, Lean and Dr Stieg, rather than introducing himself, he simply knowingly repeated the names of Ingraham and Lean before they could introduce themselves (Grey and Dr Stieg already being acquainted).
Ingraham and Lean took a disliking to Grey and even more so because Grey was mixed race – half “red-Indian”, as the clearly racist Ingraham described him. Further, once text, identified as the Abenaki language (spoken by the Indians), was discovered near the dead body, the Mayor and Lean immediately assumed that the perpetrator must also be Indian. On the basis of that clearly logical and infallible conclusion, Ingraham and Lean decided that Grey could not be trusted to provide an impartial investigation into his own kind and, therefore, could not be trusted.
Based on the way I had written that paragraph, I’m sure you can guess that I did not like Ingraham and Lean. Ingraham, because of his racist and prejudiced (and not just towards Grey) attitude; and Lean, because he reminded me of the police that I had encountered who had been nothing short of incompetent and prejudiced in their investigations, while holding the false belief that their investigation was thorough and capable of holding up to scrutiny. … Um … no !
Moving onto the character I did like. … Grey was focussed, competent, and not afraid to voice his opinions in the face of the opposition, much like a lecturer I had when I was in the second year of my Law degree. Just like this lecturer, Grey was always well aware of his surroundings but did not let on this fact. Grey also had this almost endearing habit of stopping people from interrupting his thoughts while he continued on with whatever he was doing. … I call this endearing, because I can imagine my former lecturer innocently stopping people before they spouted nonsense (don’t worry, he was more than open to comments which made sense; he just didn’t tolerate those annoying people I’m sure we’d all come across in our lifetime). Grey, therefore, was a no nonsense worker and, add to that, the fact that he had a non-judgmental mind that allowed him to assess evidence logically and objectively – just my kind of person.
In terms of what I thought of the story, in short, the first thirteen chapters were gripping with brilliant pacing, which allowed me to stay within the pages without feeling like the magic was broken by something irrational on the page. I loved the character that I was clearly supposed to love (Grey); I felt empathy towards the victim; and I felt a sort of hatred towards the Mayor and Lean. I believe that the author intended all of this and I can’t wait to see how the investigation into the victim’s death will continue.
Just a note: I stopped reading where Grey had returned to an area where the Indian people live and Lean, distrusting Grey, had followed him there. … Grey knew that Lean had followed him of course … oh that idiot Lean thinking he was a step ahead of the curve. 🙂