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Friday, May 31, 2019

Letters from a Murderer by John Matthews and The Shape of Lies by Rachel Abbot

What if...Jack the Ripper moved from London to New York?  

Letters from a Murder, an alternate history of Jack the Ripper--the unknown murder who has captivated authors and readers for generations, begins a new series featuring a London pathologist and a New York detective who are tasked with solving the murders of women in 1892 New York.   

Pathologist Finley Jameson, part of a team investigating the Ripper murders in  London, has moved to New York after inheriting a house from his aunt.  Jameson is accompanied by Lawrence, his autistic assistant with the ability to remember everything he has read.

Murders are nothing new in certain areas of the city where crime flourishes, but the murder of a prostitute has all the trappings of a Ripper murder, and Joseph Argenti, a New York detective is assigned the case.  Did the London murders stop because the murderer moved to New York?  

A letter arrives addressed to Finley Jameson, a copy of which also goes to the NY Times, and it seems that New York is in for the same turbulent fear that London has experienced.

Jameson and Argenti must work together and overcome their many differences to find the murderer who enjoys taunting them through letters.  This is a Ripper tale so be prepared for some pretty gruesome murders--which shouldn't surprise anyone.  On the other hand, I'm not really sure who is worse--the Ripper or the New York gangster Tierney.  Tierney is not as showy, but his body count is higher.

There are a number of things that just don't hang together well and areas that could be eliminated or drastically cut to keep the plot moving along, but this is an Advanced Reader Review copy and future editing may be in store.

 Jameson and Argenti have promise as characters in future books and the descriptions of historical New York are vivid.  I look forward to seeing the characters develop and would like the character of Lawrence enlarged.

UK version of cover.

NetGalley/Sapere Books
Historical Mystery.  May 31, 2019.  Print length:  404 pages.  

Yesterday, Scott was dead.
Today, he’s back.
And Anna doesn’t believe in ghosts.

I've enjoyed most of Rachel Abbot's books about DCI Tom Douglas, but this one is not one of my favorites.  

Maybe because I didn't like Anna, who keeps making bad choices and continues to get herself deeper and deeper into a morass of lies and deception.  

Maybe because there wasn't enough of DCI Douglas and the procedural part of the story.  

Maybe because the plot was hard to wrap my head around and genuinely believe in.

I guess the combination of all three factors made The Shape of Lies less of what I expected.  

I didn't guess the bad guy which was a plus, but the twist at the end did not "hook" me as it was obviously intended to do.  And as for Anna, I'm not at all interested in any more about her.  I want DCI Douglas and a police procedural, not an unlikable character who takes over the book with flashbacks and dumb decisions (even if I do kind of feel sorry for her).

Kindle Unlimited
Mystery/Thriller.  Feb. 19, 2019.  Print version:  384 pages.


  1. Sorry Shape of Lies wasn't a winner. And I have to say, I like the UK's cover of Letters From a Murderer a lot more than the US version.

    1. The Shape of Lies was suspenseful, but I like having more of DCI Douglas in the book. I appreciate that Rachel Abbott doesn't need my opinion about her characters.
      :) The UK cover of Letters to a Murderer is my favorite, too.

  2. Letters From a Murderer sounds very intriguing. Truth be told, I'll be interested to read anything about Jack the Ripper, even from a new perspective.

    I agree Anna is a character who's hard to like although I did feel sorry for her at times.

    1. I think Jack the Ripper will always attract both writers and readers. Since no one knows who he was or what happened to him, there will always be ways to approach the subject.

      Anna frustrated me, but I had trouble with the plot as well. I've enjoyed all of the previous books in the series. I'm curious about the next book, given the ending of this one.

  3. Letters from a murderer sounds like it has such potential! I like the premise of a new angle on this old story

    1. The curiosity of never knowing who he was compels our interest. Even if we have to settle for fictional versions of who and why and what happened after the murders stopped.

  4. There's just something about New York and its history. Letters From a Murder sounds intriguing. That's too bad about Abbott's book.

    1. It wasn't that the book was bad, but Anna irritated me, and I didn't like it as much as Abbott's previous books. :)

  5. I also find it hard sometimes to follow a character who keeps making poor decisions. I often wonder if that is only the author moving the plot along.

    Letters From a Murderer sounds intriguing. And once again, one of those real life tragedies/unsolved murders that writers keep going to the well for!

    1. It was frustrating watching Anna dig herself deeper and deeper in bad situations!