I haven’t posted a review in a while so I thought I’d start the new year out right and write one for the latest book I read. Before my vacation to the Dominican Republic over Christmas break, I finished reading this Sherlock Holmes spinoff where the infamous duo hunt down Jack the Ripper and solve the murders that plagued the late 19th century streets of the East End, London.
For Lyndsay Faye‘s debut novel, I have to say a Sherlock Holmes retelling is rather gutsy and for that, I’m impressed because it’s really a wonderful story. I also enjoyed this combination of history and fiction. The Jack the Ripper case wasn’t ever really solved and it’s been a historical mystery for centuries. What better case than this one for the legendary detective?
This was a fantastic read, but it was a 4 star read overall. Why? Well, despite having grasped the relationship between Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, there was a certain raison d’être lacking in the detective’s narrative. At times he seemed too emotional, too caring, and less analytical. Perhaps this was to show another part of the great detective, a new perspective, but for me, it distracted from the legendary character.
Another reason I couldn’t give this book a full 5 stars is because, while the identity of the murderer was eventually ‘solved’ by Sherlock Holmes, it wasn’t as satisfying as it could’ve been. The link between the murders and this story’s choice for Jack the Ripper’s identity wasn’t as clear as it should’ve been and there were too many wild goose chases for the reader to feel like we were apart of the discovery. I wanted to have felt like I was closer to identifying the murderer in the middle of the story, but instead, I was left feeling like the whole middle of the book was a waste of time.
I also wanted more of the true history of Jack the Ripper explored. The book didn’t even really mention the real suspects in the case: Walter Sickert, Montague Druitt, Aaron Kosminski, George Chapman, Thomas Hayne Cutbush, Francis Tumblety, or James Maybrick. I wanted more of the historic aspect, but instead, it seemed like the idea of Jack the Ripper (and the name of Jack the Ripper) were pulled into a fictional world rather than the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes pulled into the real world which I would’ve enjoyed much more. Perhaps its because Faye wanted to avoid declaring the best suspect for Jack the Ripper. Whatever the reason, this story is still worth the read and if you enjoy detective mysteries then this is definitely the book for you!