An intrepid female photographer tracks the serial killer of the (19th) century.
London, 1888. Narrator Sarah Bain makes a modest living as a photographer on Commercial Street. A substantial part of her income derives from arty, but socially unacceptable, pictures of prostitutes. Although she’s a virgin, Sarah has a special affinity for these women and their forbidden lives. When two of her subjects are found brutally murdered in similar fashion over just a few weeks, Sarah sets out fearfully to determine whether they were victims of the same killer. Worried about the safety of her other models, she sets out to warn them. All the girls disregard her warnings, and the Ripper claims another victim, Annie Chapman, known as “Dark Annie.” Meanwhile, the presence of a refined lady in the Tenderloin attracts notice, and Sarah gains the dogged and unwanted attention of several Whitechapel policemen, led by the courtly PC Barrett. Sarah convinces stunning Catherine Price, a protégée and subject of Sarah’s who’s come perilously close to prostitution, to help her find the killer. Also lending assistance are Catherine’s beau, Lord Hugh Staunton; the Lipskys, a compassionate immigrant couple often persecuted because of their Jewish heritage; and Mick, an adventurous street urchin. Close calls, a surprise ending, and the suggestion of further adventures follow.
Rowland, author of the long-running Sano Ichiro mystery series (The Iris Fan, 2014, etc.), has assembled an appealingly ragtag collection of amateur sleuths and keeps suspense high.