Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Most Curious Tale...

Title: What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James & Jack the Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
First Line: Henry James was drunk

My Thoughts: A novel with both Henry James and Jack the Ripper in it...who can resist that? And Henry is not alone. Oscar Wilde and John Singer Sargent both make appearances, as do Henry's siblings, William and Alice. These three amateur detectives work together to try and solve the Whitechapel murders. This novel is an intelligent and well-written mystery. And I like Cohen's witty characterizations of Henry, William and Alice James; she's able to portray their foibles and very real human weaknesses without making them ridiculous. They bicker and nitpick, as all brothers and sisters do, but they're also smart and insightful and very likeable. And the way they go about discovering Jack the Ripper's real identity is unique to say the least. I really enjoyed this novel, from its Victorian setting, to its literary characters, to Cohen's unusual solution to the mystery surrounding Jack the Ripper. Don't you love it when a book exceeds your expectations? This book definitely exceeded mine.

Happy Reading!

Similar read:
     Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough


  1. I read this several years ago. I liked the first part of the book better than the last part, but loved the conversations with all of the talented and witty famous people of the time. The Walter Sickert connection was interesting...of course, I Googled some of his paintings!

    1. I liked the first two-thirds of this book better than the ending, which felt a little bit abrupt. But I did enjoy the characterizations of William and Henry James. For some reason I find it hard to say no to a Jack the Ripper mystery. I don't know why. :-)

  2. This sounds great! There is something so interesting about trying to figure out unsolved mysteries through a good book. :)

    1. Every author certainly has a different take on who Jack the Ripper really was; just think of all the books that would never have been written if they'd ever caught the guy.