Victorian Bostonian Caroline Ames, who volunteers once a fortnight at her friend Agatha Montgomery's home for fallen women, the Bower, is so distressed when two of its residents, Mary and Bridget, are garroted and eviscerated in the treacherous South End that she insists her brother Addington try to apprehend their murderer. The Ames's lodger, Dr. John MacKenzie, also steps in to help, and the trio is soon supplying stupid Inspector Crippen with clues, among them the deplorable tendency of Agatha's brother, Reverend Montgomery, to molest Bower residents. The Irish-hating Crippen, however, soon settles on young Garrett O'Reilly, the Bower's dogsbody, as the guilty party. An autopsy reveals that poor Mary was not only fallen but pregnant, and a coded note nominates a typewriter salesman as the likely father. Complicating matters, a dinner guest of Caroline's, a visiting tabloid journalist from England, writes an article speculating that Jack the Ripper may have landed in Boston and, knife in bloody hand, begun reenacting his Whitechapel horrors in the South End. Another Irish lass will be murdered, and a siphoning of the Bower's funds revealed, before the mad killer attacks Caroline, then falls to a timely death from the Ames rooftop.
Effective in depicting the dreary lot of women and the Irish in turn-of-the-century Boston, but Addington with his solitary musing and Caroline with her talent for satin-stitching are not the most engaging of series sleuths (The Death of Colonel Mann, not reviewed).