Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye
At first it seemed the Ripper affair had scarred my friend Sherlock Holmes as badly as it had the city of London itself. I would encounter him at the end of his nightlong vigils, lying upon the sofa with his violin at his feet and his hypodermic syringe fallen from long, listless fingers, neither anodyne having banished the specter of the man we had pursued for over two months. I fought as best I could for his health, but as a fellow sufferer I could do but little to dispel his horror at what had occurred, his petrifying fear that somehow, in some inhuman feat of genius, he could have done more than he did.
At length, though never for publication, I determined that in the interests of my own peace of mind, I should write the matter down. I think only in my struggle to record the Reichenbach Falls business have I borne so heavy a weight as I laid pen against paper. They were evil days for me, and Holmes more than once, up and about as the cases flooded in with more force than he could practically avoid, leaned against my desk and remarked, 'Come see about the Tarlington matter with me. You needn't write this, my dear fellow. The world has already forgotten him, you know. One day we shall too.'
However, as was very seldom the case, Sherlock Holmes was mistaken. The world did not forget him. It has not forgotten him to this very day, and it is a brave lad indeed who does not experience a chilling of the blood when an elder sibling invokes the frightful phantom of Jack the Ripper.
Our mystery group has a 'Sherlock Holmes' theme for April and so I decided to listen to Dust and Shadow for the second time as my initial selection. It is narrated by Simon Vance and his voice is a welcome one for me. It's also the debut book for the author, Lyndsay Faye. She's written several books since that time (and been nominated for more than one Edgar award), but this first book is her tribute to Sherlock and Dr. Watson. And she's included that scary serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
The premise is that Holmes and Watson were actually involved in the hunt for Jack, as were other familiar characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's tales. I was pleased to see that the 'usual' suspects for the Ripper identity got at least a hat tip - was it a doctor or a butcher or even a prince? Faye goes her own way in that regard and includes Sherlockian trivia and locations. Though it isn't perfect, it's a worthy tribute, in my opinion. I enjoyed it very much. And I'm off to begin my next book using this theme.
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.