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Holmes on Jack the Ripper

PUBLISHER/PRODUCER: Simon & Schuster; Blackstone Audio, Inc.

NARRATOR: Simon Vance (sigh)

LENGTH: 336 pages; 9 hours, 22 minutes

SUMMARY: (via amazon.com) 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.

A masterly re-creation of history’s most diabolical villain, Lyndsay Faye’s debut brings unparalleled authenticity to the atmosphere of Whitechapel and London in the fledgling days of tabloid journalism and recalls the ideals evinced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most beloved and world-renowned characters. Jack the Ripper’s identity, still hotly debated around the world more than a century after his crimes were committed, remains a mystery ripe for speculation. Dust and Shadow explores the terrifying prospect of tracking a serial killer without the advantage of modern forensics, and the result is a lightning-paced novel brimming with historical detail that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

BRIDGE: This book is a great way to hook readers on Victorian mysteries and/or move them to more classic texts if they already enjoy the genre. Since the main characters in the story are Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the most obvious bridge is to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s well-known stories about Mr. Holmes. In addition, many younger readers (as in college or high-school aged readers) may not be familiar with Poe’s Auguste Dupin, who many claim to be Holmes’s literary predecessor. And Poe wrote several other crime stories, the best of which is The Mystery of Marie Roget. Another well-known Victorian author who dabbled in mystery was Charles Dickens. In Bleak House he takes us along with Inspector Bucket during his investigative forays. In addition, love of a good mystery and/or the time period could lead readers to Agatha Christie or James McCreet. One other advantage of this text is the potential for historical research. Readers may become interested in Victorian England and/or the Ripper killings and decide to do a little investigating of their own.

READERS: This story is a great one for mystery fans or fans of period fiction. Readers who enjoy blended historical fiction will delight in the fantastical idea that Holmes really knew the identity of Jack the Ripper.

OTHER TITLES: Readers who enjoy Faye’s delightfully gory tale may also enjoy The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey, The Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson, or The Montmorency books by Eleanor Updale.

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