Winner of Killer Nashville’s 2019 Silver Falchion Award for Mystery and Edgar Finalist for Best First Novel, its audiobook won Audiofile Magazine’s Earphone Award for Mystery and Suspense.
This debut novel is the first in a series starring the real-life author and suffragette Margaret Harkness, continued in Queen’s Gambit.
“Ardent feminism and cerebral detection face down the Ripper in the fog-shrouded streets of London: a feast for lovers of historical crime!”
—Laurie R. King, author of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and Island of the Mad
“Arthur Conan Doyle chasing after Jack the Ripper? Bradley Harper makes this irresistible pairing come alive. Ingenious in its premise and plotting, impressive in its unique forensic precision, infectious in its overflowing passion for the subject matter, A Knife in the Fog will be relished by fans of historical fiction, Sherlock Holmes, and Ripper literature. A debut novel worth falling for.”
—Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Chamber
Physician Arthur Conan Doyle takes a break from his practice to assist London police in tracking down Jack the Ripper in this debut novel and series starter. 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. 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.
In 1888, Jonathan Wilkins, a representative of Prime Minister William Gladstone, calls on Arthur Conan Doyle to assist in the hunt for the Whitechapel murderer, who has already slaughtered three prostitutes, in Harper's workmanlike debut. Gladstone was impressed by the recently published A Study in Scarlet, and hopes that the writer can emulate his fictional creation's methods. The reluctant Conan Doyle invites Dr. Joseph Bell, his mentor and inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, to join him. Together with real-life radical journalist Margaret Harkness, designated by Wilkins to serve as their guide to the East End, they team up with Scotland Yard to catch the killer before he strikes again. Harper is faithful to the historical record of the Ripper murders, but his solution, which combines elements of several theories, disappoints. Also, the novel suffers in comparison to David Pirie's superior The Night Calls (2002), which likewise puts Conan Doyle and Bell on the trail of Jack the Ripper. Readers will hope Harper treads less familiar ground in any sequel.