A visit from the distraught Ronald Temple sets SHERLOCK HOLMES and Dr Watson on the hunt for a kidnapped child. With no ransom note and a sinister connection to the highest echelons of Victorian society, it becomes clear that it is no ordinary kidnapping, and soon the companions’ lives are in danger. What is the child’s true heritage? And what is the connection with the Whitechapel murders of a decade before?
Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper are two of the most famous characters to have lived in Victorian times, so what would be more natural than staging an encounter between them?
The idea of Holmes solving the Ripper murders is relatively old. Many Sherlockians believe that he was involved in the investigations but either failed to catch the killer or unravelled something particularly sinister and was therefore forbidden to share his knowledge. Often it is implied that the reason Dr. Watson did not record this case lies in its controversy. There are various conspiracy theories surrounding the Ripper murders. David Stuart Davies has used one of these for his latest pastiche.
The seemingly simple case of a kidnapped child leads Holmes and Watson to a conspiracy connected to the Whitechapel murders.
The beginning of the book is very gripping. Unfortunately once the bigger picture becomes clear, which happens after only one third of the narrative is over the story loses much of its momentum. The main problem is that Davies’ theory is such an old hat, that you are left wondering why anyone would even bother writing up this story again (If you have seen the movie Murder By Decree or are familiar with Alan Moore’s From Hell you’ll know what I mean), and while the author does insert some new elements these turn out to be rather predictable as well.
It is entertaining enough, if taken as an adventure thriller, but the lack of originality is really disappointing.
The definitive Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack The Ripper novel has yet to be written, as I am afraid this is not it.