The Gaslight Stalker by David Field

The Gaslight Stalker (Esther & Jack Enright Mystery #1)The Gaslight Stalker by David Field

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Actual rating of 3.5

Esther is a seamstress, she is sent to the pub one night, by her neighbour, in order to bring home his wife. Once it becomes clear that Esther is not going to win this battle with Martha, she departs the pub for home on Martha’s promise that she’ll be right behind her. The next morning Esther is horrified to find out that Martha has been murdered, and quite savagely as well. While attending the inquisitions into Martha’s death, Esther meets Jack, a constable of the Lenmar Police station, who has taken a liking to Esther, as she has to him. We get to follow this budding romance as it it tries to stand the trials of chasing a murdering who calls himself Jack the Ripper, a murderer who is killing prostitutes around Whitechapel in horrific ways, and that the police just can’t seem to pin down. Who is Jack the Ripper? Will Esther and Jack’s romance survive?

I have always had a fascination with Jack the Ripper. I suppose most of the fascination has come about for a few reason, 1. obviously he was never caught. We still to this day have no 100% proof as to who this person was, and 2. the heinous ways that he murdered his victims. I suppose I can also add in the speculation that has surrounded the case for so long as to who people believe was responsible for it all. So it was no surprise when I found this book advertised on Facebook that I was going to buy it.

I was pretty sure, when I first started, that this story was an author’s take on Jack the Ripper, but it wasn’t until nearly halfway odd through (maybe earlier, I honestly can’t remember) that it was confirmed when characters mention the letters that have been sent to the newpapers with the killer claiming to have written them, and giving himself the name of Jack the Ripper. While the murders are gruesome and not many details are spared, I still found them to be not as shocking as they could’ve been? We all know how unbelievably cruel and brutal the real murders were, but for some reason, the ones described in this story, just didn’t have the same effect. Even Mary Kelly’s murder did shock me in this. I’m not sure if this is due to me knowing all that can be known at this time about the real murders? Having become desensitised to the descriptions? Or if maybe there was enough description being used in this story.

I really liked Esther, I found her to be a great main character (I say main character and not protagonist as I feel that Jack was also a main character) she was strong, independent and proud of herself, as she should be. One thing that irked me was, when Jack’s mother made a comment that upset her, she instantly jumped to the conclusion that Jack must have thought these things in order for his mother to have said them….I’ve actually noticed in a few other historical fiction books that I’ve read, that are set in the late 1800s, that the characters are very quick to jump to conclusion without actually asking the questions they are assuming. And they’re very quick to write relationships off at the slight prospect of the man leaving them or possibly thinking something that is not true…is this how it was back then? Is there anywhere I can go to find this out? Or is it just that all these authors have the same romance progression ideas of the relationship almost ending? It kind of annoys me that the characters who I praise for being strong women, wilt and die at these kinds of things, INSTEAD OF ACTUALLY GOING TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH FROM THE MAN THEY SUPPOSEDLY LOVE! I understand that it adds drama to the storyline, but I feel like, when you’re writing a story about Jack THE FREAKING RIPPER, that there is ENOUGH drama happening already. Though I must admit, this story wasn’t as engrossing as I thought I may have been.

Don’t get me wrong, it was still an enjoyable story, and I’m probably going to continue with the series, I just felt like it didn’t engage me as much as I had hope it was. Maybe I hyped it up too much to myself?

The mystery was good, I think it was a clever way to take it, and I like the note that the author put in the back about how the first murder in his book is sometimes not recognised as the first murder in the actual case. I like that he took liberties with the story and I really enjoyed where he took it. Though I feel like it didn’t give as much shock factor as the theory that it was the Queen’s surgeon trying to cover up the Prince’s discretion of an illegitimate child with a prostitute. I feel like the story wasn’t as dark as it could’ve been I guess. When I think Jack the Ripper stories, my mind first goes to the movie ‘From Hell’, I want gritty, dark, horrible, gruesome. This story could be gritty at times and it gave it a good hard go, but it just wasn’t dark enough for me.

Another thing that irked me at times, was the use of phonetical cockney English, at times I found it distracting.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Hello. I am currently writing a number of blogs on the Templars and 13th Century history (in the UK) as background for a series of Murder Mysteries set in that period. I wondered if we might exchange links between our sites?
    My site is https://wordpress.com/view/stephenphillipswrites.wordpress.com and my e-mail stephen@phillips-writer.co.uk.
    Stephen Phillips (UK)

    Like

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