As Jack the Ripper plies his sanguinary trade in 1888 Whitechapel, Inspector Ian Frey, his boss and patron ousted from Scotland Yard, is dispatched to Edinburgh to help solve what turns out to be an equally gruesome series of murders.
The death of violinist Guilleum Fontaine, stabbed and disemboweled, was so grisly that the authorities would think it Jack’s own handiwork if the notorious Ripper hadn’t presented a fresh victim in London only a few hours later. Was Fontaine’s killing the work of a copycat? Frey and Inspector Adolphus McCray, whom he’s been detailed to assist, don’t agree on much of anything—McCray’s idea of detecting, for instance, is to set the scraps of physical evidence before that renowned clairvoyant Madame Katerin —but they soon come to agree that the Edinburgh killer has a distinct program of his own, one that seems to strike down everyone who dares to play one of the storied violins Fontaine’s left behind. Theodore Wood, the conscientious, untalented conservatory student who inherited “the Maledetto,” his Amati, had better watch himself. So had Alistair Ardglass, the dean of the conservatory, even though he didn’t inherit Fontaine’s Stradivarius himself. Maybe even Elgie, Frey’s youngest brother, who’s come to Edinburgh to play first violin for Sir Arthur Sullivan’s latest opera. Will the salt-and-pepper cops interrupt the florid bickering in which they're both seriously overinvested long enough to put together the pieces and identify a killer who seems to have flown in from the dark side of the moon?
De Muriel’s debut offers nonviolinists ghostly, ghastly apparitions, unappealing accounts of unspeakable pub meals, and a steady drip of Had-I-But-Known foreshadowing and backshadowing. A series seems inevitable.