“Readers rejoice and scoundrels take heed—the streets of Victorian London just got a little safer. Newcomers are sure to be absorbed into these warm, witty, and richly atmospheric historicals, and devotees will not be disappointed.” —Library Journal
Cyrus Barker is undoubtedly England's premiere private enquiry agent. With the help of his assistant Thomas Llewelyn, he's developed an enviable reputation for discreetly solving some of the toughest, most consequential cases in recent history. But one evening in 1888, Robert Anderson, the head of Scotland Yard's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), appears at Barker's office with an offer. A series of murders in the Whitechapel area of London are turning the city upside down, with tremendous pressure being brought to bear on Scotland Yard and the government itself.
Barker is to be named temporary envoy to the Royal Family with regard to the case while surreptitiously bringing his investigative skill to the case. With various elements of society, high and low, bringing their own agenda to increasingly shocking murders, Barker and Llewellyn must find and hunt down the century's most notorious killer. The Whitechapel Killer has managed to elude the finest minds of Scotland Yard—and beyond—he's never faced a mind as nimble and a man as skilled as Cyrus Barker. But even Barker's prodigious skills may not be enough to track down a killer in time.
Thomas puts his Holmes and Watson stand-ins, Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn, on the track of Jack the Ripper in their less than satisfying seventh outing (after 2014's Fatal Enquiry). In 1888, Robert Anderson, newly appointed assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard and known as England's "spymaster general," approaches Barker, London's preeminent private investigator, after two prostitutes are butchered in Whitechapel. Anderson is about to leave the country to recover his health, and with Queen Victoria herself very interested in the crimes, he asks Barker to abandon his business and accept a temporary assignment to serve as a special inspector to catch the killer. Barker and Llewelyn move into the East End, to better understand the terrain, and divide their time between walking the streets and navigating the infighting among the police. Thomas is best at depicting the police tensions, which hampered the real-life search for the Ripper, but the contrived resolution to the case leaves some significant questions unanswered.