RogerBW's Blog

Chapel Noir, Carole Nelson Douglas 07 February 2017

2001 historical mystery, fifth of Douglas's novels about Irene Adler. In Paris in 1889, the Exposition Universelle is in full swing… but a notorious killer seems to have come over from London.

This is a truly impressive exercise in research, and I can recognise some of the sorts of thing that I put into my own historical scenarios. If Douglas is perhaps a little too pleased with all the historical oddity she's found, well, it's forgiveable, as while there's a great deal of Jack the Ripper lore here there's also plenty of lighter material.

[a suspect]—debased creature!—was in the hands of the French, who are better at locking up madmen than almost anyone, as they have so many. Jack the Ripper would be Frenchified, a fate worse than death in my opinion.

What there isn't is a complete story, so you should have the next volume to hand. Even at a somewhat flabby 148,000 words, from three viewpoints (Penelope Huxleigh the usual Watson, an apparent prostitute named "Pink", and the mysterious partner of the Ripper) the book ends on a cliffhanger with only part of the tale told. Irene's husband Godfrey Norton has been in Prague on business for the Rothschilds, and that business has taken him east… to Transylvania.

(Yes, even though Bram Stoker is a character in the book. There's a significant moment of authorial inspiration for him here, too.)

There's rather more explicit gore than in previous books, which I suppose is unavoidable if one's writing about the Ripper, but it's something of a shift in genre and the characters aren't quite comfortable in this story. Huxleigh keeps being confused by Irene's actions and left out of her investigations, and this makes for a distancing effect which doesn't help an already slow-paced book.

There's good stuff here, particularly concerning the differences between male- and female-led investigations in an era when the sexes are largely living in different worlds, but there's an awful lot of chaff to throw away before one gets to it.

Followed by Castle Rouge.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: Irene's Last Waltz | Series: Irene Adler | Next in series: Castle Rouge

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1