Title: Dust and Shadow
Author: Lyndsay Faye
Publication: 2009 by Simon and Schuster
From the gritty streets of nineteenth century London, the loyal and courageous Dr. Watson offers a tale unearthed after generations of lore: the harrowing story of Sherlock Holmes’s attempt to hunt down Jack the Ripper.
As England’s greatest specialist in criminal detection, Sherlock Holmes is unwavering in his quest to capture the killer responsible for terrifying London’s East End. He hires an “unfortunate” known as Mary Ann Monk, the friend of a fellow streetwalker who was one of the Ripper’s earliest victims; and he relies heavily on the steadfast and devoted Dr. John H. Watson. When Holmes himself is wounded in Whitechapel during an attempt to catch the savage monster, the popular press launches an investigation of its own, questioning the great detective’s role in the very crimes he is so fervently struggling to prevent. Stripped of his credibility, Holmes is left with no choice but to break every rule in the desperate race to find the madman known as “the Knife” before it is too late.
What I Thought About It . . .
What would have happened if Sherlock Holmes had investigated the murders committed by Jack the Ripper? This is the question that Faye has pondered and written a compelling mystery that answers it. I don’t remember how I first came across this novel, but the moment I seen it online I knew I had to read this book. Sherlock Holmes is something of an addiction of mine, as I have stated elsewhere on this blog. And I have been reading various theories in novels about the identity of Jack the Ripper for some time. I think my favorite up to now has been the explanation given by Robert Bloch in his The Night of the Ripper. But Dust and Shadow gives some competition.
I really enjoyed Faye’s portrayal of the characters. It felt like Doyle’s characters in this new adventure and it was rather easy for me to picture Basil Rathbone playing the role in my head. I often found myself chuckling at the dialogue exchanges between the characters. Fun banter all around, right? Have I mentioned that I love this prose? There were times I found myself rereading passages just because I fancied the descriptions. As to be expected of a Holmes exploit, the narrative is told from Dr. Watson’s perspective and I have no problem with this continuing for Dust and Shadow. I am pleased that Faye didn’t try to ruin the characters we’ve all come to know and love.
I know I’ve said I do not care for grisly murder mysteries, but since this involves Sherlock Holmes I am willing to make an exception. I found the mystery in this novel sufficient to keep me turning the pages with the desire to know how it all ends. Yes, give me good old deductive reasoning over modern science any day! This was one of those novels that I hated for it to end in truth. So I guess the best assessment is to say that Faye kept it short, sweet, and to the point. My kind of author! It feels like I should be describing in more detail why I enjoyed this book so much, but I have a hard time going beyond “this is awesome! read it!” mode if you get my meaning.
If this is Ms. Faye’s debut novel, I cannot wait to read more of her work! I would recommend it to Sherlock Holmes and historical crime enthusiasts alike.