Edward Clark has his life set up just the way he wants it. He’s engaged to a lovely, well-to-do young lady. He doesn’t need to work, but he enjoys writing for the crime beat of the Evening Bulletin in Philadelphia. He’s not very happy about his latest assignment, however. At the beginning of Alan Finn’s Things Half in Shadow, Edward has been informed by his editor that the paper’s owner wants him to debunk Philadelphia’s mediums and Spiritualists. This assignment blows the lid off of Edward’s comfortable, respectable life—and resurrects his darkest secrets.
Edward’s first target is Mrs. Lucy Collins. After making a fool of her during the séance, Edward reveals that he knows how every single one of Mrs. Collins’ tricks work—down to the little bells on the table and the “ghost” in the cupboard. The very next day, Mrs. Collins turns the tables on Edward. She wants him to continue debunking mediums, but to focus on her professional rivals. In exchange, she won’t tell Edward’s fiancée that he’s really the son of a magician and convicted murderer and that he’s been living under an assumed name for the past four years.
When Mrs. Collins and Edward visit the Quaker Leonora Pastor, intending to debunk her, neither is prepared to learn that she is the real deal. Worse, Leonora is murdered in the middle of the séance. Edward and Mrs. Collins are now suspects in a sensational murder. Edward’s only hope to clear his name is to work with Mrs. Collins to find out who killed Leonora.
Things Half in Shadow surprised me at every turn. Every time I thought I had the measure of this book, Finn came up with something new. A historical fiction/mystery turned into a caper novel before turning into a historical fantasy. The ending makes it clear that Finn isn’t done with Edward Clark. I hope Lucy Collins appears in any sequels. She constantly steals the show, to the point where I wished she was our central protagonist.
I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.