Why does Jack the Ripper still hold a macabre fascination for people around the world so long after his spree of mass murder? Foremost is the reason that he has never been caught, or identified, though there are countless theories about who committed the ghastly murders of London prostitutes in the area of Whitechapel. With Sherlock Holmes In New York: The Adventure Of The New York Ripper, author Philip Carraher has Sherlock Holmes (originally created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) hot on the trail of a person(s) unknown who have killed prostitutes in New York in an eerily similar way to Jack the Ripper in London. Could it be the same person(s), carrying on their bloody business in the New World?
The Adventure Of The New York Ripper is Carraher’s third book featuring Sherlock Holmes, the first two being The Adventure of the Dead Rabbits Society and a collection of stories involving Holmes, Alias Simon Hawkes.
Simon Hawkes is a pseudonym Holmes is going under in New York to avoid unwanted
attention from any members of Professor Moriarty’s gang like Captain Moran who
may still be trying to kill him. Beekeeping with his brother Mycroft not being
all that it was cracked up to be, Sherlock finds it hard to leave detective work
behind him. His friend on the New York police force, Inspector Cullen, convinces
him to help out in the investigation of the death of a prostitute known as the
“due to her penchant for reciting children’s rhymes as she walked down the streets or stood at a bar soliciting drinks from others in a saloon, offering a trade, a drink in exchange for the currency of a child’s poem.”
The Rhyming Child has been garroted to death and her body mutilated similar to the victims of Jack the Ripper. A string of deaths to follow, and much of The New York Ripper is a pretty engrossing yarn. The theories that Simon Hawkes (Holmes) comes up with are intriguing - that fire escapes are used by the murderer(s) to leave the scene of the crimes, for instance, and that possibly more than one person could have been involved in both the original Whitechapel murders and the ones in New York.
Holmes eventually deduces who might be involved in the murders, aided by a package of information mailed to him from England by his brother Mycroft. He pours over the details of the original murders, comparing and contrasting them to the murders in London, and settles on whom he thinks could have committed the murders in both places to fit in with the timeline of the deaths. Perhaps too much time and space is spent rehashing the Ripper’s murders in London; a summary of them would have served the purpose better. Also, a suspect Holmes initially thinks might have been involved, referred to as C. Knicklo, is brought up and then dropped with not much of a reason given other than that better suspects surface.
The Adventure Of The New York Ripper proves there’s still much valuable gold left to be mined by resurrecting the venerable sleuth Sherlock Holmes. Philip Carrahers does an admirable job filling in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immense literary shoes. Despite the many pages he devotes to going over Jack the Ripper’s murders (old hat to many readers interested in this “ultimate serial killer”), those readers who aren’t as well informed about the murders may find the pages written about them crucial to understanding the events that unfold in this novel. Carraher does a fine job, all-in-all, with The Adventure Of The New York Ripper, which should appeal to anyone interested in Sherlock Holmes, mystery novels, and/or Jack the Ripper junkies.