101. Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye

Pages: 325
Ages: 18+
Finished: May 31, 2009
First Published: Apr. 28, 2009
Genre: historical mystery
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

At first it seemed the Ripper affair had scarred my friend Sherlock Holmes as badly as it had the city of London itself.

Reason for Reading: I always enjoy a good book featuring Holmes but this time I must say it was my pet true crime case Jack the Ripper that pulled me towards this book even more. I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Comments: The plot is what you would expect. The real-life Jack the Ripper case has been put into the the fictional London of Sherlock Holmes and in this world Holmes becomes involved in trying to solve the case. The book itself has been approved by the Holmes estate and is very true to Holmesian Canon, including characters and history from previous stories with footnotes to show from whence the references came. The Jack the Ripper information has also been thoroughly researched but is much more vague and not nearly as in-depth. This is much a story of Holmes, first and foremost before it is a story of Jack the Ripper.

I've read all of Doyle's Holmes works, though I must say it was a long time ago, but I still felt the genuine tone of the original books come through in Fayes' writing. While one knows the plot, per say, of the Ripper murders she has added some shady characters and goings on that Sherlock must also unravel along his way to solving the bigger case. Also, while Faye stays true to the main facts of the Ripper case she does deviate away from the facts into fiction to make the story her own (or should I say Holmes' own). Jack the Ripper purist will not find a plausible solution to the case but then they shouldn't be expecting one with a fictional detective on the case.

An enjoyable book but one I must say that never really grabbed me tightly. It was a pleasant read that didn't ever get me excited as to whodunit. Holmes and Watson were portrayed well, and fans will be sure to be pleased, but I just didn't connect with any of the other characters nor did the plot ever get me turning pages faster than normal. Overall, a pleasant, enjoyable mystery but nothing extraordinary.


  1. I seriously thought about picking up a true crime Ripper novel when I was at the library over the weekend but decided against it. If I ever do want to read one I think I'll try this one instead!

  2. ladytink - if you want to stay away from all the gory details but still get the facts of the ripper case this is a good one, esp. if you like a good Holmes mystery!


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