Genre: Historical fiction, detective and mystery fiction, crime fiction
Publication date: November 3, 2020
Author content warning – The history which is depicted is accurate, therefore the psychological horror of these actual events and violence upon the victims might be unsettling to some readers.
I am afraid that I, Sherlock Holmes, must act as my own chronicler in this singular case, that of the Whitechapel murders of 1888. For the way in which the affair was dropped upon my doorstep left me with little choice as to the contrary. Not twelve months prior, the siren’s call of quiet domesticity and married life had robbed me of Watson’s assistance as both partner and recorder of my cases. Thus, when detective inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard required a lead—any lead—I found myself forced to pursue Jack the Ripper alone and without the aid of my faithful friend. And all for the most damnedable of reasons:
Early on in my investigations, Dr. John H. Watson, formerly of 221b Baker Street, emerged as my prime suspect.
Any book about Jack the Ripper is obviously going to be a grim read, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how grisly the murders would be. Like the policemen in the story, I also felt nauseous reading about the brutality of the crimes. If you feel you don’t have the stomach for it, you may not enjoy the book.
On the other hand, the writing is excellent and well-researched, and conveys the darkness, the shadows, and the tension in the story perfectly. You can picture the London of those days, covered in smoke, grime, and fog–possibly sheltering a criminal in a corner.
Unlike Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, this one is narrated from the point of view of Holmes. It revealed to me a more human side of Holmes that I’ve not come across in the original stories. The twist in this story comes from the fact that Holmes suspects Watson to be Jack the Ripper, yet cannot believe that he would be wrong about his long-time friend and wants to absolve him of all suspicion.
I was also interested to read that Holmes was constantly confounded by the murders–something else I didn’t see in the originals where he had greater control over the investigation.
Unfortunately, I felt that the ending was too tame and it lets the reader down. The build-up throughout the story was superb and I was hoping for something more dramatic. In attempting to keep with historical accuracy, the author has created a rather quiet and safe end to the horror.
(I received a review copy from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review.)
About M.K. Wiseman
M. K. Wiseman has degrees in Interarts & Technology and Library & Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her office, therefore, is a curious mix of storyboards and reference materials. Both help immensely in the writing of historical novels. She currently resides in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.
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