Book Review

What Alice KnewWhat Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Henry James is suffering through boring drunken dinner parties in London, but when his brother William-renowned for his groundbreaking work in the new science of psychology-is summoned from America by Scotland Yard to help investigate an East End serial killer who calls himself Jack the Ripper, things are suddenly much more interesting.

Their bedridden sister Alice James takes on the role of lead detective, as the three precocious siblings attempt to unravel the true identity of the killer. Searching London high and low, encountering characters both suspicious and ridiculous, they inch closer to a killer neither they, nor readers, would suspect.

I just could not get into this one. I wanted to love it, I really did. The premise is great, a woman who has given up on society and taken to her bed solving the murders committed by Jack the Ripper along with her two famous brothers. It’s a great notion, but the characters did not live up to the premise. They were flat and whiny. The use of historical figures and known writers as protagonists drove me crazy, there was not enough background to make me feel like I knew the characters since I was not already aware of most of the history surrounding them. The book was also rather slow-moving for a murder mystery. Unless you are really into historical re-writes, I would give this one a pass.

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