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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Often I Am Happy
Jens Christian Gr√łndahl
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story
Douglas Preston
Guilty Pleasures
Laurell K. Hamilton

Dust and Shadow / Lyndsay Faye

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson - Lyndsay Faye

From the gritty streets of nineteenth century London, the loyal and courageous Dr. Watson offers a tale unearthed after generations of lore: the harrowing story of Sherlock Holmes's attempt to hunt down Jack the Ripper.

 

As England's greatest specialist in criminal detection, Sherlock Holmes is unwavering in his quest to capture the killer responsible for terrifying London's East End. He hires an "unfortunate" known as Mary Ann Monk, the friend of a fellow streetwalker who was one of the Ripper's earliest victims; and he relies heavily on the steadfast and devoted Dr. John H. Watson. When Holmes himself is wounded in Whitechapel during an attempt to catch the savage monster, the popular press launches an investigation of its own, questioning the great detective's role in the very crimes he is so fervently struggling to prevent. Stripped of his credibility, Holmes is left with no choice but to break every rule in the desperate race to find the madman known as "the Knife" before it is too late.

 

 

I am neither a devotee of Sherlock Holmes nor of Ripperology (the study of Jack the Ripper), but I did find this book very engaging. I think that the author caught the rhythm and atmosphere of Conan Doyle’s fiction very well—there were only a few instances where modern sensibilities slipped through. By and large, I felt that Holmes and Watson behaved very authentically and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to my Sherlock-obsessed friends.

 

Mind you, I am also a fan of forensics-based mysteries, and Ms. Faye gives Holmes and Watson quite a boost towards modern forensic method. She brings them right to the brink, as far as they can go without modern theories and equipment. I also appreciated how she gave Jack the characteristics which we now recognize as those of a psychopathic killer, while sticking quite closely to the facts of the case.

 

It is an easy and enjoyable read, well suited to the doldrums of summer.