After his recent resurrection of Jack the Ripper (The Frightened Man, 2009), Cameron crosses the ocean with Arthur Conan Doyle and his indomitable wife and finds, in 1896 New York, an equally depraved killer of women.
As the Doyles arrive at the New Britannic hotel, Louisa Doyle—“Touie” to her husband—sees a Titian-haired young woman crossing the lobby with a handsome young man. The next day, the redheaded woman is horribly dead in the Bowery, mutilated and unidentified. Recognizing her face from a newspaper sketch, Louisa tells Arthur that she’d seen the woman in their hotel. His reaction is affectionate but dismissive: Touie must have been imagining things; she mustn’t make her husband look ridiculous by putting herself forward as “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.” When a sprained ankle maroons Louisa at the New Britannic as Arthur sets off on a lecture tour, she tries to share her knowledge with other people, beginning with New York Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt. Their reactions are equally dismissive but a lot less affectionate. Given the rampant corruption among the ranks of the NYPD, Louisa’s limited mobility and her equally (and surprisingly) limited exchequer, she won’t be able to shed any light on the Bowery Butcher, whose list of victims grows apace, without some new friends. Fortunately, these include New York Express reporter A.M. Fitch, celebrity actor Henry Irving, pioneering feminist Victoria Woodhull, novelist/spiritualist Marie Corelli and Col. William F. Cody, aka Buffalo Bill. Though she runs rings around the police, Louisa is no great shakes as a detective; the high points in this horrific period tale are the moments when she stands up to a series of condescending males, including, in the treasurable final tableau, her famous husband.
Rated R for graphic sexual violence, official corruption and the liberal use of obscenities by figures on both sides of the law.