I first encountered Alex Scarrow's excellent body of work two years ago. His titles are highly recommended (read my review of October Skies here), and I was pleased to discover his latest thriller, The Candle Man (Orion).
I really tried to enjoy this book because I loved the writer's previous work and the novel offers so much to the Ripperologist in me.
The narrative begins promisingly on RMS Titanic, just after her rendezvous with the iceberg, then transports us to London's 'Autumn of Terror' in 1888.
And I really wanted Scarrow to proffer his own, original approach - unfortunately we are presented with yet another re-hash of the 'Royal conspiracy'.
This criticism is not detrimental to the novel however, which is as evocative as any worthy piece of Victoriana, and one of the author's many strengths lies in his (almost Holmesian) attention to period detail. I suspect that Scarrow - like many other writers since the 1970's - relishes in an admittedly compulsive and entertaining theory. Also akin to other proponents of this particular 'final solution', this novelist allows the final canonical victim, Mary Kelly, to escape her true destiny too.
Granted, this is a fictional account of the Whitechapel Murders and the historical minutiae is as accurate as you'd expect from Scarrow, but it's hard to forgive his most glaring error - the 'Double Event' occurs here two days later than documented (and I'm sure that the cover artwork depicts the Lusitania, not Titanic).
The story ends back onboard the sinking liner, and the mystery of Jack the Ripper is solved. Despite my negative opinions, The Candle Man remains a good read, and I look forward to Alex Scarrow's next title.