Book Review: Letters from a Murderer by John Matthews

New York, 1891: a rapidly changing city, torn between lamplight and electric light, where the burgeoning steel and railway industries attract a flood of humanity from every corner of the globe, fuelling cut-throat gangs, corruption and vice.

A prostitute is found brutally murdered. Immediately fear starts to spread. The victim bears the same hallmarks as Jack the Ripper’s recent killing spree in England. Could it be that the Ripper has crossed the Atlantic to fresh killing grounds? Or is this simply a copycat murder?

To solve the case, one of the original English Ripper pathologists, Finley Jameson, is teamed up with Joseph Argenti, one of the new ‘untouchable’ detectives, hand-picked by a New York Mayor eager to fight corruption.

But Michael Tierney, the city’s leading gangster, has his own ideas about how the city should be run. And as the body-count rises, and Jameson & Argenti are taunted by the killer in open letters, they find themselves fighting not just to save the next victim, but for the city’s very soul.

To get this book, you need to add the following things in a blender: Sherlock Holmes, New York City, Jack the Ripper, and Gangs of New York. Add a dash of unique and excellent characterization and you have one explosive novel that will not let you put it down until you’re finished, no matter how tired you may be.

Argenti and Jameson are excellent characters that must follow Jack the Ripper as he terrorizes New York City. Jameson, a former investigator of the Ripper murders in London, has moved to New York. The Ripper seems to have followed him there. Argenti, an investigator from NYC, is one of the few cops left who haven’t been corrupted by the crime boss Tierney. Both Argenti and Jameson are excellent characters because they have their flaws which make them all the more human: Argenti is hiding a secret about his sister, Marella, and Jameson is hiding a family secret that could put him in danger.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and was kept guessing until the very end. And the last sentence of the book made me gasp. I’m very glad that this appears to be the first in a series, because I loved the characters and want to read more of them. Argenti and Jameson have great chemistry when working together, and they compliment each other much like Holms and Watson do. That’s not to say that they’re a copy of those two famous literary figures, though. No, far from it. They’re unique and perhaps even deeper because of their flaws.

I HIGHLY recommend this book if you like a good mystery or are a fan of either Sherlock Holmes or Jack the Ripper style books. Excellent read.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Letters from a Murderer by John Matthews

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