Review: Jack The Ripper - Case Closed by Gyles Brandreth

"What, another one?" I hear you cry. Yes, we have a novel about the solving of the Jack The Ripper crimes.

I normally avoid these like the plague. They tend to be either historically inaccurate or have anti-climactic conclusions.

However I could not resist this one. In the first place it does not have Sherlock Holmes solving the crime. Without exception, in my experience, these are inadequately done. In this instance we have the latest of Gyles Brandreth's Victorian mysteries - hence Oscar Wilde is the detective with Arthur Conan Doyle as his Watson.

So what do we have? We have a series of Ripper-style murders taking place in 1894 with the mutilated bodies being found close to Wilde's home. One of Wilde's near neighbours, senior policeman Melville Macnaghten, asks Wilde to investigate and thus help him complete his report on the historic killings as well as solve the current ones.

Wilde and Doyle travel around London and its outskirts interviewing the official suspects, witnesses and visiting the scenes. Into the mix we add an exotic Russian circus, curious Royal courtiers and many of Wilde and Doyle's literary peers.

The scenes are well drawn and the characters are distinct as well as multi-dimensional. Brandreth does an excellent job of conveying Wilde's wit even though some things are slightly contrived - an example being the idea that Wilde was responsible for the words that eventually found their way onto Doyle's grave. These are very forgivable given the quality of the book overall.

The solution is acceptable, even though it is not shocking, and it is delivered with appropriate Wildean flair. If you are a fan of the series you must add this one to your library. That said, it does a good job of standing alone even though it helps to have an understanding of Wilde and Doyle and their histories. Without that background you could struggle.

I've not read a lot of fictional Jack The Ripper novels but this one is up there. I look forward to more from Detective Wilde.

Written by Alistair Duncan Buy my books here

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