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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Blog Tour Book Review: A Knife in the Fog by Bradley Harper

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Physician Arthur Conan Doyle takes a break from his practice to assist London police in tracking down Jack the Ripper.

September 1888. A twenty-nine-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle practices medicine by day and writes at night. His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, although gaining critical and popular success, has only netted him twenty-five pounds. Embittered by the experience, he vows never to write another "crime story." Then a messenger arrives with a mysterious summons from former Prime Minister William Gladstone, asking him to come to London immediately.

Once there, he is offered one month's employment to assist the Metropolitan Police as a "consultant" in their hunt for the serial killer soon to be known as Jack the Ripper. Doyle agrees on the stipulation his old professor of surgery, Professor Joseph Bell--Doyle's inspiration for Sherlock Holmes--agrees to work with him. Bell agrees, and soon the two are joined by Miss Margaret Harkness, an author residing in the East End who knows how to use a Derringer and serves as their guide and companion.

Pursuing leads through the dank alleys and courtyards of Whitechapel, they come upon the body of a savagely murdered fifth victim. Soon it becomes clear that the hunters have become the hunted when a knife-wielding figure approaches.


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The macabre tale of Jack the Ripper is one that has always fascinated me. Over recent years, I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to research and delve into the Autumn of Terror in great detail, satisfying my curiosity and learning more about the Whitechapel Murders and the elusive Ripper.

I also hold a special place in my heart for Sherlock Holmes, the fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so when I saw that A Knife in the Fog combined the two, I knew I had to read it!

As I am already familiar with the Ripper murders, I found myself skimming through a lot of the middle of the book where Doyle describes the victims. However, it was refreshing to read of the police investigation and the murders - particularly the Double Event - from the perspective of an eye-witness. This added a new layer of authenticity to the narration and was highly engaging to read.

In addition to Jack the Ripper and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the book also features a number of other notable real-life people who could have been found in the East End in 1888. From Professor Bell to Inspector Abberline, it was lovely to find these historical figures coming to life on the page.

However, the third musketeer (after Doyle and Bell) was a little bit of a mystery to me. I had never heard of Margaret Harkness before reading A Knife in the Fog, but now, having read the book, I am keen to research her in more detail. I've also added her first book, A City Girl, to my tbr list! Margaret seems to be very much a woman born before her time, someone who was not afraid to stand up for what she believed in and a lady who would not conform to society's expectations just because it was expected of her. Even after reading this one book, I admire her greatly.

I love the attention to detail and painstaking care that is evident throughout the book. The author has clearly done his research, and save for a few minor alterations of events and timings to suit the plot, the Ripper's murderous reign of terror is reported surprisingly accurately. There were a few Americanisms dotted throughout ('pants' instead of 'trousers', for example) which were very jarring against the backdrop of Victorian London, but on the whole, this careful, considered approach made the book seem authentic and entirely plausible.

Could Doyle really have met Jack the Ripper? Of course, while we will probably never know the answer to that question (any more than we are likely to ever unmask the Ripper once and for all), this is still a highly enjoyable, engaging read. 

A Knife in the Fog is available to buy now.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

4 comments:

  1. Wow - that sounds like a fabulous book with so much real details. I'll have to find it. Thanks for sharing! #MMBC

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  2. This sounds like a great book. Will have to put this on my list ! #MMBC

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