Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The Whitechapel Horrors!
The Whitechapel Horrors by Edward B. Hanna is one of the longest and most involved Sherlock Holmes stories I've ever read. This tome comes in at well over four hundred pages and has well over a hundred footnotes. It's an exceedingly well researched story which pits Sherlock Holmes against the most infamous killer of all time -- Jack the Ripper.
Originally published in 1992, this story takes place inside the official Holmes canon, fitted neatly between the classic adventures. Set in 1888, the story explains just what Holmes was about while his friend and biographer Dr.Watson was biding his time at Baskerville Hall. We get a sense that there was more to the three years Holmes went missing some time later.
There is a realism to this mystery which allows the reader some insights into Victorian society, and specifically a London which is a city that doesn't seem to know itself. The great chasm between the poor and the wealthy is examined, a divide the bloody crimes of the Ripper called attention to.
Holmes and later Watson too, interact with real world persons who worked the Ripper case, adding their own insights. We are given a fresh view of murders which have been written about about and discussed for over a century and we are supplied with a heady list of possible suspects.
I have never seen A Study in Terror, a celebrated movie which pits Holmes against the Ripper, but I'd like to now especially to see how it matches up to Hanna's elaborate take on the conceit.
This one will take a bit of time, but it's worth it, if you're willing to enjoy a Holmes mystery which takes some liberties with the classic structures.