A photographer and sometime sleuth dances with death when she searches for a missing infant in Victorian England.Following her triumph in discovering the identity of Jack the Ripper (The Ripper's Shadow, 2017, etc.), Sarah Bain and her pal Hugh, an aristocrat exiled from his family because of his homosexuality, are the proud partners in a thriving photography business. But they've found a good deal less success with their "private inquiry service" despite their alliance with Mick, a resourceful street urchin who lives with Sarah and is freely dispatched on special assignments. When her long-lost father, Benjamin, turns up on the fringe of one of her photographs, Sarah is prompted to delve into his past. Learning that he was the prime suspect in a decades-old murder, she feels compelled to discover the truth. Close on the heels of this discovery, a pair of Sarah's recent clients who turn up dead seem to be connected to Robin Mariner, a missing baby believed to have been kidnapped. Sarah's initial efforts at ferreting out her father's history hit firm resistance, but she fares far better with the Mariner family, who mistrust police and hire her and Hugh on the spot. Complicating matters is Sarah's romantic relationship with Barrett, a rising star on London's police force who'd surely disapprove of her sleuthing. The closer she gets to the truth, the more she puts her life, and those of her loved ones, in danger.The plot of Rowland's second Victorian mystery is a bit overstuffed but boasts a winning team of outsider heroes and a colorful first-person narrative.
Praise for A Mortal Likeness:
“A winning team of outsider heroes and a colorful first-person narrative.”
Praise for The Ripper’s Shadow:
"The whopper of all serial killers, Jack the Ripper, like fire, is to be handled with care, and luckily Rowland knows just how to do it, putting a new twist on old tropes with her witty sleuth, while never sacrificing historical integrity."
Library Journal starred review
“There are so many fine things about this novel that it’s difficult to enumerate them all. The characters are beautifully drawn; the dialogue sparkles; the setting is vividly rendered…This is sure to delight followers of Ripper-themed fiction and all who cherish Victorian-era mysteries.”
Booklist starred review
“Close calls, a surprise ending, and the suggestion of further adventures…Rowland has assembled an appealingly ragtag collection of amateur sleuths and keeps the suspense high.”
“This is one author who should be given an A+ for a new take on a very old subject. From the brilliant, unique characters to the frightening fog filling London’s alleys, this is one tale you will not want to put down.”
"Attention to atmospheric detail, original characterizations, and escalating conflict...This is a fresh, modern take on the streets that produced a murderer 'From Hell.'"
"[Rowland's] wildly diverse cast...brings a special focus on the forgotten and ignored of Victorian society, and provides a fresh, and refreshing, point of view to the otherwise morbid proceedings."
Mystery Scene Magazine
"Easily one of the best things I’ve read all year... This is a vivid, enjoyable novel with a likable cast of characters and plenty of intrigue and suspense... I’m keen to see what Sarah Bain gets up to next."
“Great detail is given into the personalities and look of each actual historical victim, therefore easily blending actual history into a believable historical mystery…This book is a good beginning into what looks like a great new series with a female protagonist.”
PCA Mystery & Detective Fiction Reading List, Winter 2017, 4.5 stars
“Laura Joh Rowland reinvents the story of Jack the Ripper in a wholly unexpected way. Gritty, imaginative, and full of nail-biting suspense, The Ripper’s Shadow is a triumph.”
Tasha Alexander, NYT bestselling author of A Terrible Beauty
"Please let this be the start of a series. I went into The Ripper's Shadow wondering if I could care about another Jack the Ripper novel, and emerged at the end of it thrilled, off-balance, and astonished at how Laura Joh Rowland was able to bring Victorian England into such vivid life, and a story we all know into new relief. This is a fantastic read."
Charles Finch, bestselling author of The Inheritance
“Laura Joh Rowland has penned an imaginative, chilling reinterpretation of Jack the Ripper’s bloody reign of terror. A dark, seductive peek into the dangerous underbelly of Victorian London.”
C. S. Harris, bestselling author of the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries
“Tense, pacy and compelling; Laura Joh Rowland commands empathy for the Ripper’s victims and sincere affections for her characters.”
Stephen Gallagher, critically-acclaimed author of The Kingdom of Bones and The Bedlam Detective