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.