This detective novel set in 1892 in a fictional city in New England openly acknowledges that it is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche in the opening pages. Even “Sherlock Holmes with fantastical and supernatural elements” has been done before, but Jackaby remains fresh and entertaining. The title character is an investigator who can see evidence of the paranormal. The story is narrated by Abigail Rook, a young woman seeking adventure who steps off the ship at New Fiddleham and quickly becomes Jackaby’s assistant embroiled in solving a series of grisly murders.
The narration wisely stays with Abigail as we see Jackaby slowly become a warmer character, but still retaining an air of mystery. The story has a lot of humor mixed with moments of horror, although nothing overly terrifying. It’s a fun story and I will seek out other installments in the series.
“Monsters are easy, Miss Rook. They’re monsters. But a monster in a suit? That’s basically just a wicked man, and a wicked man is a more dangerous thing by far.”
This makes them dreaded creatures, feared and hated by any who hear them, a treatment far disparate from the honor and appreciation they used to receive for their mourning services. Banshees themselves are not dangerous, though, just burdened with the task of expressing pain and loss.
That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest ones always are.
Happiness is bliss–but ignorance is anesthetic.
Recommended books: The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Monster in the Mist by Andrew Mayne, The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl, The Technologists by Matthew Pearl, The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch, and The Alienist by Caleb Carr