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A Knife in the Fog
Margaret Harkness & Arthur Conan Doyle
BY Bradley Harper

Seventh Street Books
10/02/2018/ ISBN 978-1633884861
Mystery/Suspense/Historical (London 1888)

Reviewed by Linda Morelli

Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle is a physician who, shortly after writing his Sherlock Holmes story, “A Study in Scarlet,” receives a summons from the former Prime Minister William Gladstone, enclosing a ten-pound note. Curious, Doyle meets with Gladstone’s private secretary, Wilkins, who asks for Doyle’s help in the Whitechapel prostitute murders. Wilkins is convinced that the scientific methods of analysis to deduce the murderer that Doyle described in his story could help solve the horrendous murders. Doyle agrees with one stipulation: The man upon whom he modeled Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell, must work alongside him as a colleague. Wilkins agrees and adds that an “emancipated” woman and author, Miss Margaret Harkness, serve as their guide. She lives in Whitechapel in order to become familiar with the working poor portrayed in her novels.

Doyle and Bell quickly learn that Miss Harkness is a surprisingly resourceful woman who artfully disguises herself as a young man so she can safely traverse the streets at night. The three of them (with Harkness disguised as a man) meet with Inspector Abberline, who is in charge of investigating the Whitechapel murders. Thus, begins the investigation of the murders on the East End of London. Doyle, Bell and Harkness investigate each murder, yet find it difficult to gather clues to the killer’s exact identity – though the author provides a satisfactory premise.

Bradley Harper has brought his extensive background as a pathologist and his experience in forensic investigations to fore in this mystery of extraordinary depth. He provides a high plausibility as to the methods and madness of the man we now know as Jack the Ripper. I was held spellbound by this novel from beginning to end. The wonderful main characters and the realistic portrayal of the horrors that gripped the people of London during the Ripper madness are excellent. Mr. Harper has provided an electrifying novel of tension and fear, and a fascinating and engrossing explanation of the Ripper murders not for the faint of heart. Definitely a must read for lovers of Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper theories and mystery lovers everywhere.

Reviewed 2018