Perhaps the most overworked of all pastiche storylines is that of Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper. But as well-worn as the trope is by now, first-time novelist Mark Sohn of Sussex takes it on with a great deal of success in Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Murders.
Good writing and first-rate atmospherics enhance a fast-moving tale with enough action to please even adventure-junkie Dr. Watson – a prize fight, an abduction, a séance, and the pursuit of a woman on roller skates. The subplot involves a plot to steal the Crown Jewels of England, masterminded by a brutal brain known as the Professor.
“I hope the ending of the book provides entertainment and a few surprises,” Sohn told me. “Some of the events are, of course, dramatic fiction, but there are – perhaps surprisingly – plenty of actual historical events blended in, some of which left me aghast at how easily they fitted with my story.”
One of my favorite elements in the book is the presence of real-life magician John Nevil Maskelyne, who creates a brilliant illusion to simulate the theft of the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. The gimmick works just like many of Maskelyne’s real tricks.
“The idea to write a Holmes/Jack the Ripper story came to me about three years ago,” Sohn said. “Jack the Ripper is perhaps the most prominent ‘feature’ of later Victorian life and is perfect for Holmes.
“Both the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police failed to catch this person or persons. Who, then could have a chance? The man who never lived! I hope that the book will be a springboard, both for more Holmes tales and also my other stories, which range from horror to science fiction to historical thrillers. Who knows?”
Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Murders is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Kindle.