Review of The Conan Doyle Notes: The Secret of Jack the Ripper

25 Apr

“Here’s a new pastiche that keeps the genre of Jack the Ripper vibrant, but it’s a gentle cozy (of the slaughtered Ripper victims) with an intriguing plot in which the Chicago of Barack Obama and the contribution of local Sherlockians is promoted. It’s a Chicago of the Art Institute, Arthur Rubloff’s singular collection of paperweights, and the historical lumber barons who laid the plywood route for the Chicago Fire.

It bears telling that though Conan Doyle was a keen investigator of true crimes and wrongful convictions, this one apparently escaped his instinct and his pen.  Nor did Sherlock Holmes attempt to solve the Ripper’s identity.

Momentous it is it that Conan Doyle’s marginalia notes about the Whitechapel murders are apparently contained within an 1894 White Company manuscript. They are located, it is surmised by a Sherlockian, within a mansion in Obama’s Kenwood neighborhood of Hyde Park, Chicago. The author wisely avoids mentioning another distinguished Hyde Park resident/federal appeals court judge Richard Posner, who wrote evisceratingly of Sherlock Holmes devotees.

It is in this green and pleasant University of Chicago community that Sherlockian scholar, antiquarian book collector and BSI Tom Joyce alerts private investigator, Daphne December McGil, to the whereabouts of ACD’s secret papers in the Grange mansion. His expertise is so reliable and sacrosanct that D.D. rests assured hers is not an exercise in futility over forgeries.  The Ripper  events occurred during Conan Doyle’s early writing career and little, if anything, exists indicative of his interest in the East End perversities.

D.D. takes over the hunt when Tom is brutally assaulted and lapses into a coma. At this point, I note that the book appends a worthy bibliography.  Amongst the Sherlockian literati appears the late Richard Lancelyn Green. This itself lends a kernel of wry invention on the part of our author.  One of the characters competing in the heated enterprise to find the notes is the chillingly sly provocateur/collector Philip Green. The plot is both fact and fiction and this latter puzzle alone should pique a dutiful Sherlockian’s interest. The desire to amass rare Sherlockiana is inexhaustible and  possession can be a fighter’s quest but D.D. and Tom prove worthy competitors who live to tell the tale.”


Reviewed by Brenda Rossini, OCWW President

The Conan Doyle Notes: The Secret of Jack the Ripper paperback edition is available for pre order from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository .

The Conan Doyle Notes: The Secret of Jack the Ripper hardback edition is available for pre order from all good bookstores including  Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository.

the conan doyle notes


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