The Frightened Man

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London in 1900 is a sprawling, chaotic web of change and expansion, perfect for a man like Denton, an American with a violent past seeking anonymity as an outsider. But his notoriety as the author of several dark novels—and the well-known story that, decades before, he had gunned down four men in the American West—sometimes brings unwanted visitors to his door. When a terrified man shows up one evening and says that he is being pursued by the long-gone Jack the Ripper, Denton dismisses him as one more victim of ...

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Overview

London in 1900 is a sprawling, chaotic web of change and expansion, perfect for a man like Denton, an American with a violent past seeking anonymity as an outsider. But his notoriety as the author of several dark novels—and the well-known story that, decades before, he had gunned down four men in the American West—sometimes brings unwanted visitors to his door. When a terrified man shows up one evening and says that he is being pursued by the long-gone Jack the Ripper, Denton dismisses him as one more victim of London’s lunacy. But then the mutilated body of a teenaged prostitute named Stella Minter is found in London’s East End. . . .

       

Disappointed by the lack of police concern, Denton determines to pursue the murderer, even after it’s clear that he’s become the next target. As Denton begins to peel away the layers of the lurid and horrifying murder, he finds himself exploring the dark underbelly of the bursting metropolis, a place so vast that Denton is forced to follow nothing but his instincts through the maze of London—its pubs, its police offices, its dark alleys and disreputable neighborhoods—to find a murderer who is himself an agent of the city’s cancerous growth. And along the way Denton is lucky enough to find an ally in a woman with a past as haunted and a spirit as independent as his own.

       

Kenneth Cameron has brought turn-of-the-century London vividly to life in this intelligent and compelling crime novel. The Frightened Man delves far deeper than the mere circumstances of a murder to investigate the unseen—the secrets harbored in London’s immeasurable streets and in the dark side of human nature.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Jack the Ripper may be back to his old tricks in 1900 London in Cameron's chilling tale of prostitution, evisceration and voyeurism. General Denton, an expatriate U.S. Civil War veteran and former frontier sheriff turned novelist, receives a visit one night from a frightened stranger, R. Mulcahy, who claims to have seen Jack the Ripper on the street. Denton and his sidekick, Sergeant Atkins, dismiss Mulcahy as a mad man, but soon afterward they spot a newspaper headline ("Unspeakable Mutilation of a Young Victim") about the murder of a street girl, Stella Minter. Driven by his instincts as an author and by demons from his tortured past, Denton begins a relentless search for clues to the killer. Through the offices of pettifogging police officials, seedy settlement houses and garish pubs, Denton and social worker Janet Striker trace Stella's pitiful life until the stunning and violent climax. Cameron with his son writes military thrillers under the pseudonym Gordon Kent (The Spoils of War). (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

London in 1900 is rapidly transforming into a modern city but still retains a Victorian fog-ridden atmosphere. When a terrifed man claims Jack the Ripper is chasing him, successful expatriate American author Denton dismisses him until a prostitute is brutally murdered. Denton's American take on British society as well as his writer's eye for detail below the radar make this an unusually good foray into a popular time period. Sure to appeal to both fans of historicals and Jack the Ripper tales. Cameron also writes military thrillers under the name Gordon Kent. [Library marketing.]


—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
A somber tale of life and death in turn-of-the-century London throws new light on the notorious Ripper murders. A former farmer, a Civil War veteran, an ex-lawman with an unhappy past, Denton is now a successful author living in a class-conscious society he finds hard to fathom. When ferrety Mr. Mulcahy shows up with a wild tale of seeing Jack the Ripper, Denton dismisses him as a sexual deviant, a nutcase. After Denton is dumped by his mistress that night, he goes on a drinking spree and awakens to a gruesome newspaper story detailing the Ripper-like murder of a young prostitute. Though the police are uninterested, Denton, with a little encouragement from his manservant Atkins and former CID Sgt. Munro, becomes obsessed with the killer of Stella Minter. When Denton and Atkins are attacked by a hefty assailant with a knife, Denton is only spurred on. Because his current manuscript is behind schedule, he scrambles to find the money to pay his bills and fuel his researchers, several women pouring over archives. After a frosty start, he develops a working relationship with Janet Striker of The Society for the Improvement of Wayward Women. Together they hunt through a London growing outward at a furious pace. As they slowly weave the threads of the case together, it approaches a terrifying conclusion. Cameron (Africa on Film, 1994, etc.) paints a striking portrait of London, and Denton is a hero whose unheroic side only makes his character more appealing.
From the Publisher
International Praise for The Frightened Man

"Cameron paints a striking portrait of London, and Denton is a hero whose unheroic side only makes his character more appealing." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Filled with rich period detail, a gritty London comes alive in this satisfying novel, which contains a thoughtful exploration of the relationship among love, sex, and perversion, and between violence and self-loathing.” –Boston Globe

“Struggling to earn a living as a writer, [Denton] socializes with the bohemian crowd in their fashionable haunts such as the Café Royal, but is equally at home walking the dangerous streets of London’s East End. He is well worth encountering again.” —The Telegraph (U.K.)

“Not only is [The Frightened Man] a refreshing change from ‘usual suspects’ like Prince Albert Victor, Sir William Gull, Walter Sickert, Lewis Carroll, and recently Frank Miles, but it also smacks of verisimilitude, so essential for writers of crime fiction. It is a wise decision, artfully delivered, and The Frightened Man is a worthy addition to the subgenre from a confident, competent author.” —The Tangled Web (U.K.)

“Strong characters and intrigue abound in this well-plotted and highly readable mystery.” —The Advertiser (Australia)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312628017
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/8/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 8.28 (w) x 5.66 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth Cameron is the author or coauthor of more than thirty books, including historical novels and novels of espionage, a critical history of the African safari, and an award-winning analysis of films about Africa. He lives most of the year in the woods of New York State’s Adirondacks.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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(5)

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 14, 2009

    Victorian murder mystery with a hint of Jack the Ripper is wonderful way to start a series

    The Frightened Man by Kenneth Cameron is the first in a possible series about American former military man Denton now living in London at the end of the 19th century. Denton has become well-known as a writer, but when a man comes to his door claiming knowledge about the decade old crimes of Jack the Ripper, he dismisses the terrified man as a crackpot. When the morning's newspapers gives details about the brutal murder of a young prostitute, Denton can't help wonder if it is connected to his visitor and begins to investigate, much to the detriment of his health and his finances. I adore Victorian murder mysteries, and when you throw in a tie to Jack the Ripper, I was quickly sold on the concept of this book. I did, however, have a hard time initially getting into the story. The reader is flung into Denton's personal life, and it takes some time for the story to find its feet. Once Denton started his investigation the story quickly picked up and was difficult to put down. Cameron doesn't fall prey to the standard cliches of this genre, and the story really begins to shine when Denton's foil Janet Striker comes on the scene. The dark past of the protagonist haunts the investigation and will provide fodder for plenty of sequels.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2014

    Some things I liked very much about this novel, others not so mu

    Some things I liked very much about this novel, others not so much. I thoroughly enjoyed Cameron's depiction of late 19th century London, the coppers, the Cockney dialogue, the ambiance. And I liked Denton, the hero. The not-so-great parts: Cameron commits that error so common to writers of historical fiction -- all the "good" characters think just like modern readers do regarding social issues, and all the "bad" characters, the reactionaries, are the ones who think like most of their contemporaries would have. For instance, we know without a doubt who the bad cop in the story is, because he refers to a black man as the "N-word." Civl War vet Denton has a fit and threatens to throw the bad cop out of his house for this. Perhaps I'm cynical, but I'm not sure that is realist for London in 1900. Further proof of Denton's enlightened state is that his love interest is a plain-looking feminist who claims that "men hate women" and won't poor his tea for him or let him see her to her door. Denton ruminates on her pretty extreme claim about men hating women, and because he is enlightened, he concludes she might be right about that. There are some problems with the murder mystery part too. Overall, though, it's a pretty good read. Not sure if I'll ever bother to read the other books in this series, but The Frightened Man is a pleasant way to pass the time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Highly Recommended!!!

    Its the first time I have read this author's work. I know that I will definitely continue reading his books. The Frightened Man is a great thriller and mystery. The humor is well placed throughout the story. FIVE STARS!"!!

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

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    Reviewed by Searcher for MurderMysteryMayhem.blogspot.com

    This historical mystery set in 1900's London features General Denton, a Civil War veteran and former U.S. sheriff turned novelist, who has becomes obsessed by the murder of Stella Minter. Is Jack the Ripper back in business eviscerating prostitutes as R. Mulcahy, the frightened late night visitor to Denton, implies?

    Denton, disappointed by the police's lack of action, and maybe to avoid some of his own work and demons, pursues the murderer through the chaotic streets of London and the darker side of human nature, at great risk to himself and everyone around him.

    Not for the faint of heart this book is a violent, fast paced suspense, which drags the reader through the topics of voyeurism, and mutilation and comments on the treatment of women at turn of the century. An intelligent and well-written page-turner from Kenneth Cameron.

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