Breathless and painstakingly researched, this is a stunning debut mystery in which Sherlock Holmes unmasks Jack the Ripper. Lyndsay Faye perfectly captures all the color and syntax of Conan Doyle’s distinctive 19th-century London.
In Dust and Shadow, Sherlock Holmes hunts down Jack the Ripper—the world’s first serial killer—with impeccably accurate historical detail and without the advantage of modern forensics or profiling. Sherlock’s desire to stop the killer who is terrifying the East End of London is unwavering from the start, and in an effort to do so he hires an “unfortunate” known as Mary Ann Monk, the friend of a fellow streetwalker who was one of the Ripper’s earliest victims. However, when Holmes himself is wounded in Whitechapel attempting to catch the villain and a series of articles in the popular press question his role in the crimes, he must use all his resources in a desperate race to find the man known as “The Knife” before it is too late.
Penned as a pastiche by the loyal and courageous Dr. Watson, this debut signals the arrival of a tremendous talent in the mystery and historical fiction genres.
©2009 Lyndsay Faye (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Impressive…Sherlockians will hope to see further pastiches of this quality from Faye.” (Publishers Weekly)
“An exciting and grimly vivid tale that confronts the murderous Jack the Ripper with A. Conan Doyle’s immortal detective better than ever before.” (Conan Doyle Estate)
“At long last, an author of rare talent combines a thorough, enthusiastic knowledge of the Sherlock Holmes canon with truly rigorous research into, and respect for, the Jack the Ripper killings.” (Caleb Carr, New York Times best-selling author)
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I have always enjoyed the original Sherlock Holmes stories. The pastiches not so much. Usually the author goes overboard to be faithful or makes the story ridiculous trying for laughs. I am not a Holmes purist, Basil Rathbone is still my favorite Holmes, regardless of the movie plots.
This book was excellent! The Holmes character has some of the edges smoothed yet not so one wouldn't recognize him. Watson is thoughtful and decisive. The Lestrade character is perfect, though this one might be the one least like the stories. The crime to be solved is one of the most well known in history. There is plenty of tension as Holmes comes up with a very plausible solution.
"the best of both Holmes"
I think this listen would please both Holmes traditionalists (because it honours Conan Doyle's style, characterization and voice) as well as those of us who prefer contemporary re-imaginings of the Holmes' character (her prose is more snappy; she inserts more contemporary psychology, but not in an anachronistic fashion). Like Conan Doyle, the author paints the streets of London so vividly that they almost become a character.
The dialogue is brisk and often humourous; Watson is an intelligent friend, not a buffoon. I had avoided the listen because novels using the Ripper murders can be grisly, but this, while "anatomically correct," avoids sensationalism. The story turns a bit Hollywood towards the end, however, so to me it falls short of 5 star historical detective ficiton.
"In the tradition..."
I loved this audio book. It was a perfect example in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes. Certain facts of the Ripper killings were blended seamlessly in a Sherlock Holmes style novel.
Simon Vance as narrator was superb. He sounded like Sherlock, and like Dr. Watson and didn't do bad women's voices. Great regional accents.
You won't regret listening to this...you will think you are listening to Sherlock and Dr. Watson in person.
"An Absorbing Battle of Wits Tween Holmes & Ripper"
Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye was an absorbing and entertaining (and frighteningly disturbing) listen. Faye does an excellent job of channeling Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so that I usually had the illusion that I was listening to some apocryphal actual Holmes story rather than to a 21st century pastiche. The relationship between Watson and Holmes is depicted accurately, humorously, and movingly. The case, that of the Jack the Ripper murders in 1888 London, is relentlessly horrible, ultimately making us look uncomfortably into the dark human heart. I’m no Ripperologist, but having read Alan Moore’s graphic novel From Hell, it seems to me that Faye effectively matches up the historical case with the fictional detective. Faye is also quite good at evoking the slums of London in all their foul and brutalizing misery: dingy tenements, opium dens, slaughterhouses, public houses, and poor houses; fruit sellers, cat meat men, police, prostitutes—and a serial killer.
Simon Vance is his usual effortless and professional self reading the novel, changing his voice just enough to distinguish between the various characters without distracting the listener from the story, perfectly enhancing the text.
There are a few flaws (in my mind) in the novel. The Holmes of my experience would figure out the culprit’s profession sooner than I did, wouldn’t break someone’s nose in a fit of pique, and wouldn’t say “Now get the hell out of here!” And the climax, while utterly gripping, is unconvincing after the fact. But overall I really enjoyed Dust and Shadow, and am sure it would appeal to any fan of Sherlock Holmes or Jack the Ripper.
"Pure pleasure for mystery lovers!"
This well researched, well written story was so good that I could hardly turn it off. The narrator does an excellent job, and I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who loves Holmes, mysteries, or both.
"If Vance narrated all books, I'd never read again"
It is inevitable that writers feel a deep-seated urge to pit Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper. The murders happened in the midst of Holmes's career; his contemporary readership must have wished he could step out of the pages and hunt down their nightmare for them. So it's no surprise that this is not the first time the idea has been pursued; there have been a couple of films (Murder by Decree with Christopher Plummer and James Mason as Holmes and Watson, and A Study in Terror), a handful of other books (including Michael Dibdin's The Last Sherlock Holmes Story), and a video game. This was my first foray into the mashup.
Half an hour into the audiobook, I had small doubts. Holmes and Watson both faithfully give their solemn word that they will never reveal the details of the case the story starts with … but the concept is that the book is one of Watson's memoirs (albeit one he leaves sealed). It seems a bit odd that he'd even write the story down. I wasn't fond of this beginning, this prologue, wondering why it was starting there, with such an extended look at another case … until nearly the very end, when the reason for starting there becomes clear and it all just adds to the brilliance of the book.
First of all, as I commented somewhere, if Simon Vance narrated all audiobooks I would never read another page for myself again. I love this performance – every character is dead on: Watson, warm and a little dusty; Holmes, the famous clear strong tenor; Miss Monk, believably feminine and East End without going falsetto Eloiza Doolittle. And the Welsh accents just made me happy. All the accents made me happy. The reading was a joy.
I loved the Doyle-esque "Several highly publicized investigations that year displayed Holmes's remarkable skills to the public, including the appalling affair of the faulty oil lamp, and the matter of Mrs. Victoria Mendoza's mysteriously vanishing thimble and its consequences." Shades of the Giant Rat of Sumatra … Although perhaps Ms. Faye can be prevailed upon to do what Doyle never did, and give us those stories. (Along with "the affair of the second cellist".) I live in hopes that this is only the first of a new Holmes series.
There was, it seems, an innocence that was lost when Jack the Ripper began his work. It's hard to fathom that before 1888 ordinary folk could not conceive of such atrocities – or at least this is the sentiment Lyndsay Faye puts into the mouths of the gentlemen set to pursue the monster, from Holmes to the lowliest constable. Now, with 24-hour news and CSI and Criminal Minds and true crime novels, it's sadly hard to conceive of such a sweet time. There had been serial killers before the Ripper, but through some confluence of the media and the infancy of modern investigative techniques he became the first one to cause such a tremendous flurry, the first one to make the history books.
It's been some time since I read the actual original stories, but not so much time since I watched the wonderful current BBC series, and something that strikes me throughout Dust and Shadow is that this Holmes is much nicer than Benedict Cumberbatch's. He is much freer in his friendship with Watson than I was expecting – this Holmes is less "sociopathic genius with absolutely no social skills" than "so much smarter than everyone else there's no point in talking to them, with the exception of Watson". He placates Mrs. Hudson and pours tea for his friend and everything.
And this pastiche makes me want to go back and read all of the original work soon (had I world enough, and time). The characterizations of Holmes and Watson, and also LeStrade, are so engaging that part of me wants to hold them up against the originals. The tone of the writing feels very genuinely Watsonian. (Quotes are a right pain to make note of in the audio format – I usually hear lines I wish I could make note of while driving – but there have been several descriptive flourishes which made me smile at their Victorian purple tinge. Ah, there's one: "shafts of lunar illumination": beautiful) This is a Watson I want on my side, a Watson I want more of, staunch and solid and not remotely stupid. I love this Watson.
And I love this Holmes. A great deal of it is, of course, the really gorgeous tone of the narrator – his Holmes just rings out, clarion. But this is a Holmes that fits the template in my head: he feels right. This is one of the reasons I keep reading fan-fiction and pastiche and media tie-ins despite all the garbage that brings: when it's bad it's unconscionable, but when it's good – when the writer captures the voice of a well-known and well-loved character - it's so very much fun.
I also enjoyed the new part-time member of the team, Miss Mary Ann Monk. She's thisclose to being a cliché – but Lyndsay Faye pulls off a young woman toward whom it seems Watson and Holmes both harbor fondness, and indeed admiration – and I don't mind. Non-canon romance, liaisons outside of the bounds of the Official Story, is usually something that raises my hackles, but I found myself mentally nudging one or the other of the duo her way.
I think the only fault I can possibly find is that there's not enough Mrs. Hudson. I can live with it. And honestly, the use of Mrs. Hudson – particularly at the end – was wonderful. So … not a fault, after all.
There is a comeuppance that is received a good ways into the book which was one of the most satisfying examples of just deserts ever. And the final confrontation hit all the right notes. And that's all I'll say about that.
Being me, I looked up Ripper history. Lyndsay Faye was completely faithful to it up to the point of Holmes's growing involvement, and in fact wove him into the reality with enviable skill. And part of the brilliance of this book is the life breathed into a one hundred and twenty-four year old story: new suspense is added with the question of how it would play out. Would Holmes manage to save any of the victims? How would his involvement affect the sequence of events? Would the inconclusive end – the Ripper kills just ending with no real explanation – be worked into the tale? I can't really answer the questions without massive spoilers, so instead I will say simply this:
"Combines two favorites"
As a longtime Holmes fan and also a little bit of a Ripperologist, this book was too tempting to pass up. Lyndsay Faye gets the voice of Watson near pitch perfect. It was not long before I was simply immersed in the story, without consciously thinking about the fact that it was a pastiche. The author also does not fall into the trap of spending too much time on Holme's "parlor trick" readings of minutia.
The most serious issue, for an author, in a Holmes vs Ripper story, is "if Holmes succeeded, why don't we know about it?" Faye handles this issue with a new, and intriguing style.
A note about the reader. Simon Vance is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, here on Audible. He can handle various ages, genders and accents with ease, creating characters that feel individual and who never grate on the nerves or bring the listener out of the book and back to the reader.
"Excellent Holmes story. Believable."
I really enjoyed this Holmes story. Considering the timeframe of the story, its premise is quite believable (if you allow yourself to believe that Sherlock Holmes actually existed)... Narrator did a stellar job. Lyndsay, I'm a dedicated fan now. Please write many more Holmes stories. Keep them reasonbly believable.
"A reasonable take off of Conan Doyle"
Although nobody could write with the complexity, snap and originality of the original Conan Doyle, this book is worth a listen if you are a ripper or a Sherlock Holmes fan.
"Excellent all around"
Great addition to Sherlock Holmes stories for listeners who loved traditional Holmes. This story works having Holmes solve the Jack the Ripper killings. Very traditional and interesting and typical wonderful Holmes. Excellent Narrator.
"Conan-Doyle has been re-incarnated!"
If Arthur Conan-Doyle had written a further Holmes novel this would be it! Atmospheric, tense and glorying in every detail beloved of followers of Holmes and Watson. Like a London particular the nuances of all that makes Holmes the master detective swirl around the reader and draw you in to the London of the 1880's. The plot is deep and although covering ground well known to students of 19th Century criminology Lyndsay Faye triumphantly holds the attention from beginning to end. My most enjoyable historical novel for a long time I only hope that further tales are forthcoming.
"Can't express how much I enjoyed this..."
The story was absolutely fascinating, obviously well researched and based on many true facts from the Ripper case (post mortems, eye witnesses, police reports etc.) Above all, the ending was all too plausible. Loved it!
There are other books (and films, games etc.) that pit Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper, but without a doubt this is best story I've ever heard. I was gripped from beginning to end.
The reading by Simon Vance was perfection. It didn't take me long to forget that there was just one reader, as he seemed to fully round out each character, both male and female.
I have already listened to this twice and fully intend to listen to it again! Can't recommend it high enough.
"A Must Listen"
All I can say is that this book is fantastic, I have listened to and read and also watched most of the Sherlock Holmes media, this is very much part of the collection and a must listen for you.
The story and the narration are superb.
"a good stab at the genre ;)"
A well disciplined pastiche hits most of the right notes though the story's structure is more modern than an Edwardian novel.
Simon Vance does a workmanlike job of conveying classic voices of policemen, prostitutes, prizefighters, Dukes Dr John.H.W and even Mrs Hudson but critically fails at Holmes himself. The well-crafted Holmesian syntax cries out for dear old Jeremy Brett and we are at much at a loss without him.
"Excellent addition to the fictional Ripper canon"
This is very enjoyable. It's well researched about London. I HATE it when supposed historical fiction doesn't get London right. Don't want to be spoilery but I appreciate that this doesn't go for too sensationalist an identity for the Ripper. The author has neatly fitted the fictional detective around the historical facts without too much of an obvious join.
I'm listening to The Complete Sherlock Holmes also narrated by Simon Vance at the moment so maybe that's why it seems to fit so perfectly with Conan Doyle's work and be convincingly Holmesian.
"Lost week end"
Yes. We'll written and best narrator, I have ever heard. Loved the old story. Had a lost week end listening to it.
Simon Vance is the best. He captured the characters perfectly. Does not suffer from the dry mouth and clicking tongue of some others. Loved him.
Enjoyed the story but maybe not for everyone as it Is about Sherlock Homes, Dr Watson on the trail of Jack the Ripper.
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