Whitechapel, London, 1888
Would Sherlock Holmes identify Jack the Ripper using his astute powers of deduction? Arthur Conan Doyle never put Holmes on the Whitechapel set, but Lyndsay Faye pits the pipe-smoking, cognitively-advanced detective against the Ripper with disastrous results in her novel Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson. Or perhaps Scotland Yard could rely on Henry James and his brainy sibs to hit upon a solution among the many possibilities, as Paula Marantz Cohen postulates in What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper. And what if Bram Stoker were in East London at the time of the killings and became a suspect, as he does in The Dracula Dossier by James Reese?
Kenneth Cameron’s The Frightened Man brings a witness to one of The Rippers predations into contact with a melancholy American writer, who then sets out to find the truth behind these grisly homicides in a strange land. Maybe if time travel were possible, a person could avert a specific killing. That’s what Andrew Harrington hopes to do in The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma when he climbs the stairs to H.G. Wells’ time machine. Echoing the title of Jack the Ripper’s taunting note to the police, one of the most nightmare-inducing accounts of Jack the Ripper’s slashing spree is the graphic novel From Hell by Alan Moore. The author begins with events leading up to the 1888 killings, introduces suspects (the real killer among them) and a police cover-up – all in disturbingly understated visual detail.
After the killings end and “Saucy Jack” has put London’s Metropolitan Police to shame for failing to catch him, the much-vilified new Murder Squad is created. In The Yard by Alex Grecian, a member of the Murder Squad is found dismembered and stuffed in a trunk, eyes and mouth sewn shut. The remaining eleven track a clever killer in a taut, suspenseful thriller that brings out the dingy, pinched atmosphere of Victorian Whitechapel. Not to be missed!