The Maniac Collector's Inbox
Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watsonby Lyndsay Faye. Simon & Schuster, $24.95. ISBN: 1416583300.
One of the things that Sherlockians everywhere have wondered is where was Holmes during the rein of terror of Jack the Ripper. There have been many attempts to recount the events and most have not lived up to either Ripperologist or Sherlockian expectations; that is until the publication of Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye. This is an account that grabs the reader as unexpectedly as Jack did his victims and drags them along on a terrifying romp. The reader of this fast-paced novel need to hold on to their Deerstalker.
This is Ms. Faye's first novel and what a novel it is. I met the author a few years ago during the Birthday Celebration in New York City. She burst on the scene and was soon everyone's darling. She has done her research and laid out an incredibly complex tale. The retelling of the Ripper story with the perfect blend of Holmes and Watson is like a bit of voyeurism back into 1889. The banter between Holmes and Watson and Lestrade is true to the original. The reader will get a chill down the spine as the plot truly thickens. The burning questions posed by Sherlockians and Ripperologists are all answered quite plausibly in this novel.
The descriptions of the opium den, White Chapel, and the crime scenes are picture-perfect. One can close their eyes and almost hear the sound of hooves on cobblestone and smell the rotting decay of White Chapel. The story brings out a human side of Holmes that is rarely glimpsed in the original stories. There is a nice blend of Canonical characters and characters on the trail of Jack the Ripper. This account may not be actually what happened but from my Sherlockian point of view it is close enough.
I was lucky enough to find an Advanced Reading copy on e-Bay but will certainly add the hard-cover edition when it becomes available. The release date is set for April 28 and it is a must-read for any Sherlockian.
Lyndsay and me at the 2008 BSI Cocktail Party.
Past 2009 ColumnsJanuary 4, 2009