Thursday, November 6, 2014

REVIEW: Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye
Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye

Original Publication Year: 2009
Genre(s): Mystery, Historical
Series: NA
Awards: None
Format: Audio
Narrated by: Simon Vance

Ever wondered what might have happened if Sherlock Holmes had taken on Jack the Ripper?  You need wonder no longer because Lyndsay Faye is on it AND she pulls it off pretty darn well.  Not too shabby for what I think is her debut novel. 

She has a lot to play with of course.  There is likely no unsolved crime more speculated upon than the Jack the Ripper murders so theories abound to run with in a fictional sense.  I don’t keep up with all the details of current theories but it appears that Faye does not base her killer on any of the likeliest suspects.  The scenario she chooses is believable and I at least found it hard to guess.  Apparently, if the internet is to be believed, Conan Doyle himself was in favor of a female killer, a so-called Jill the Ripper.

There is no more recognizable detective I would guess than Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Faye does a competent job at representing all the trappings of a good Sherlock Holmes story.  Holmes is erratic and intense and disappears for days on end, sneaking around in disguise trying to track down clues in the shadier parts of London.  There’s a visit to an opium den and some moody violin playing.  Faye plays a little bit with the characters by rocking Holmes’ foundation of confidence ever so slightly.  The case stalls almost immediately and at one point Holmes even comes face to face with the ripper but he is still unable to pin down his identity. 

In the end this was an enjoyable Holmesian mystery but I didn’t feel it was anything extraordinary. In a way, focusing on the Ripper murders and imagining Holmes’ involvement is an easy way out – there is a lot of existing material to play with but it’s not terribly original.  I liked Anthony Horowitz’s House of Silk better, I think, because of the originality of its story.  However, if you like Holmes and are intrigued by the Ripper killings then I do not think Dust and Shadow will disappoint.

Final note on the audio.  Simon Vance is one of the more accomplished readers out there and he does a fine job here.  I had no problem envisioning him as Watson and he handles the other characters well. 

Final Verdict:  A showdown between Sherlock Holmes and the Ripper?  It has all the ingredients to be a great story and Lindsay Faye did not disappoint! Three out of Five Stars ✯✯✯

  This book is on my 100 Books Project list.

No comments:

Post a Comment