Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Ripper Legacy: Spoilery Review

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Ripper Legacy (2016) by David Stuart Davies takes place not long after Sherlock Holmes has returned from his "demise" at the Reichenbach Falls. It involves Holmes and Watson in a kidnapping case that has baffled the authorities. Young William Temple wandered away from his mother and his nanny while at Kensington Gardens. The women lose sight of him near the Round Pond and the next they see him, he is in the distance--being dragged from the park by two men. Charlotte Temple did not get a good look at the men and there has been no ransom demand, so the police have had no luck tracing the boy. Holmes himself hold out little hope to the distraught parents, but promises to do his best.

Gradually, he discovers slender clues that lead him from the Temple's upper class home to a disreputable orphanage to the dark alleyways of White Chapel. Those clues also lead him to suspect a connection with the unsolved murders of Jack the Ripper and his investigations into the child's true heritage reveals a plot meant to shake the very foundations of Britain. With Watson at his side, he must face a formidable foe hiding beneath the Tower Bridge.

*******Spoiler Territory: Read on at your own risk********

The Ripper Legacy is a bit of disappointment. While Davies does get the atmosphere of Victorian England right and has a good grasp of the Holmes/Watson relationship, he really doesn't provide much that is new in the Ripper connection--except to produce a very unoriginal motive behind the murders with a very tiny twist--and he trots out a very tired Holmes pastiche trope. And--like others who have reviewed this on Goodreads, I was not enamored with the multiple viewpoints. It's a Holmes story--let Watson tell it; don't keep bouncing us around from Watson's diaries to the kidnappers to the people behind the kidnappers to Mycroft and back again.

Anyone with much knowledge of the Ripper killings has to know that Prince Eddy has featured as a possible suspect or behind-the-scenes player in the horrific murders. And I get very tired of the resuscitation of Moriarty. Seriously--it's enough suspension of disbelief to accept that Holmes survived that meeting at the Falls. To have Holmes watch Moriarty plunge into that chasm (per the canon) and then bring him back to life (in various ways by various authors) is a bit much. I honestly would have enjoyed this one more if he had done something new and interesting with the Ripper story line instead of rehashing previous theories and a much-used Holmes pastiche plot device. ★★ --for the atmosphere and Holmes/Watson dynamic.


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