Seventh Street Press, 2018
Agent: Jill Marr
Physician Arthur Conan Doyle takes a break from his practice to assist London police in tracking down Jack the Ripper.
September 1888. A twenty-nine-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle practices medicine by day and writes at night. His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, although gaining critical and popular success, has only netted him twenty-five pounds. Embittered by the experience, he vows never to write another "crime story." Then a messenger arrives with a mysterious summons from former Prime Minister William Gladstone, asking him to come to London immediately.
Once there, he is offered one month's employment to assist the Metropolitan Police as a "consultant" in their hunt for the serial killer soon to be known as Jack the Ripper. Doyle agrees on the stipulation his old professor of surgery, Professor Joseph Bell--Doyle's inspiration for Sherlock Holmes--agrees to work with him. Bell agrees, and soon the two are joined by Miss Margaret Harkness, an author residing in the East End who knows how to use a Derringer and serves as their guide and companion.
Pursuing leads through the dank alleys and courtyards of Whitechapel, they come upon the body of a savagely murdered fifth victim. Soon it becomes clear that the hunters have become the hunted when a knife-wielding figure approaches.
"Delightful chemistry, plummy prose, and believable period detail lift Harper’s debut above the throng of forgettable Baker Street imitators."
“[A] richly detailed, intense debut…. The intricately plotted story is worthy of Conan Doyle himself, with language and characters reminiscent of the Holmes canon and foreshadowing of the author's future work. This compelling debut will have wide appeal, attracting readers of Jack the Ripper fiction, Sherlock Homes fans, and anyone who appreciates real-life people as sleuths.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“[Y]ards above the usual pastiche, told in flowing language that could almost be sung…. Holmes' fans will appreciate the glimpses, amid the action and the examination of social mores, of the elements that formed their hero.”