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Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson Paperback – Bargain Price, December 1, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 220 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Following in the footsteps of such crime writers as Ellery Queen and Michael Dibdin, Faye pits Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper in her impressive if flawed debut. In the autumn of 1888, the savage slaughter of two prostitutes in London's East End piques Holmes's curiosity. Inspector Lestrade, no fool in Faye's rendering, calls on the unconventional sleuth for help. As the killer continues to claim more victims, the Baker Street duo spare no effort to bring the Ripper to justice. Meanwhile, a disreputable journalist accuses Holmes of being the Ripper. The author uses a convincing Watsonian voice to present versions of Holmes and his chronicler faithful to the originals. While the paucity of suspects makes guessing the killer's identity too easy and the motive for the crimes is less than convincing, Sherlockians will hope to see further pastiches of this quality from Faye. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

It has been more than 120 years since his last murder, so perhaps we should allow Jack the Ripper to rest in peace. Not a chance! The slashing murders and mutilations committed by perhaps history’s most notorious serial killer terrified the impoverished residents of the Whitechapel area of London’s East End in 1888. Because the killer was never caught, who better to track him down than the greatest Victorian-era sleuth, Sherlock Holmes? Faye narrates the investigation through the supposed memoir of Holmes’ constant companion, Dr. Watson. Faye displays a superb grasp of the known facts about the murders, and she effectively captures the vibrancy and squalor of the underclass in late-nineteenth-century London. Although her effort to mimic Conan Doyle’s literary style seems a bit strained, she knows how to unfold a tale of murder and mystery. Holmes, typically brilliant and relentless, unpeels layer after layer of confusion and deceit as the dramatic tension builds and bursts. Mystery aficionados, especially those with an interest in the Ripper murders, will find this work a worthy revisiting of the case. --Jay Freeman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416583318
  • ASIN: B004J8HWYQ
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,353,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Philip K. Jones on April 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Review: This is a first novel for Ms. Faye and it is subtitled "An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson." As a Sherlockian scholar, I maintain a database of Sherlockian pastiches, parodies and related fiction. Among other things, this database keeps reference to the subjects of its entries and "Jack the Ripper" is the single most popular subject for pastiche writers, other than "The Hound of the Baskervilles." There are at least seventy five different items on file about attempts to tell the story of JACK, including Ellery Queen's excellent "A Study in Terror" and Carol Nelson Douglas' two volumes from her Irene Adler series; "Chapel Noir" and "Castle Rouge."

The literature on the Ripper killings is also complex and lengthy. Numerous individuals have been nominated for the role and reasons for the abrupt end to the killings are also legion. Among the Sherlockian offerings, the number of ripper suspects approaches seventy five with almost as many explanations offered for the end to the killings. Although the Sherlockian works are often interesting, they offer little in the way of solid evidence from history for their resolutions of the questions left by the events. The true Ripper Literature tends toward the `Police Procedural' school and is often merely gross, with little entertainment value except to sensationalists.

In this book, one is taken by the Good Doctor along on an investigation by The Master into the world of monsters. This is not the world of Vampires and Ghosties; instead a sense of growing horror brings both the investigators and the reader to the awarenes of the monsters that dwell amongst us, the human monsters that may be our neighbors or our contemporaries.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Having grown-up on a steady diet of Sherlock Holmes' stories as well as the macabre tale of Jack the Ripper [thanks to mom who is an ardent true crime fan], my interest was piqued by this latest pastiche of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes' stories. Though I'm no Sherlockian scholar, I thought Lyndsay Faye's debut was well-written and made for a riveting read, engrossing me in the period details as much as the intriguing plot and character development.

In "Dust and Shadow", the master detective Sherlock Holmes, and his able sidekick Dr John H Watson undertake to solve a series of gruesome murders committed in the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. Those familiar with the story of Jack the Ripper know that the number of victims attributed to the Ripper totaled five in all: Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth "Long Liz" Stride, "Catherine Eddowes", and "Mary Jane Kelley". In this pastiche, the author attributes another earlier murder to the Ripper, that of Martha Tabram, who was murdered on Aug 7th 1888, a victim of multiple stab wounds [39 in all].

In the process of solving the murders and uncovering the killer's identity, Holmes himself falls victim to the press of the day, and his very reputation is put on the line as he has to deal with speculations that he himself may have something to do with the murders. Thus the stage is set for a true potboiler, with rich period details and complex characterizations that had me racing through the pages.

I am amazed that this is a debut novel by the author - she writes with flair and assurance, and through the authentic re-creation of Whitechapel in 1888, manages to transport readers into a world that seems altogether familiar.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The idea of Sherlock Holmes facing off against Jack the Ripper is such a natural (they "operated" in the same time frame) that one is surprised that Conan Doyle didn't use it himself. But no worries, at least a dozen others have used it since. Probably the best novel version is Nicholas Meyers' "The West End Horror', and, undeniably, the best film version is "Murder by Decree" starring Christopher Plummer as Holmes and James Mason as the best Watson ever! All of which is a long-winded way of saying that each new version must be viewed by, not the originality of the idea, but how well each writer pulls it off. By that standard, first time author Lyndsay Faye pulls it off very well indeed, thank you. Her Holmes, Watson, indeed all her characters, are more than credible as human beings and, within the confines of paying all due homage to the Conan Doyle canon, she manages not a few very interestting surprises of her own. A must for Sherlockians and a damn good read for anyone else!
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Format: Hardcover
I have read a great many Sherlock Holmes' take-offs, pastiches, etc. over the years. Some were pretty good, some were OK and most were awful. This lastest attempt to combine Holmes and the Ripper kind of falls on the line between "good" and "OK".

Lyndsay Faye does a very nice job in recreating the "Watsonian voice". Her narrative through Watson's eyes is spot-on with the canon stories. She does well also in her descriptions and dialogs. She might have over-done her attempt to create a deeper (or maybe more obvious) friendship between Holmes and Lestrade but what's the fun of playing with established charaters if you can't do a bit of creative interpreting?

My real complaint is that the story itself was rather bland. The idea of bringing Holmes and the Ripper together is not a new one and it has been better done. The history of Jack the Ripper is well-known and gives a pretty rigid framework to operate in. An author really only needs to be creative with the actual criminal. Who was the Ripper? Why did he commit such crimes? How would someone like Sherlock Holmes approach this case?

Ms. Faye does answer those questions but the whole thing kind of flopped for me. At first the inclusion of a female hired by Holmes to serve as an inside source seemed to be a good idea. But as the story progressed it actually got rather tedious and felt unnecessary. The emotions surrounding the case lacked, too. I got no sense of terror when she described the riots in Whitechapel. There was no real feeling of panic or desperation. And there were no brilliant deductions from Holmes himself. In the end the criminal himself and the reasons behind his behavior seemed a bit stretched and rather hurried.
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