Jack? There’s No Jack Here

I am all for seeing things from a different perspective and or point of view. Sometimes when you see something from a different point of view it helps you understand things better and improves the way you look at and see things moving forward. Thus, I enjoy this approach in novels. And this is the approach that Thea Sutton took in her novel The Women Of Blackmouth Street. Sutton has taken one of the most famous murder mysteries and created an interesting twist.

While the plot sticks fairly close to the historic tale, there is absolutely no mention of Jack. All the horror takes place around Dury Lane, a different East End slum. Over crowded with the poor, lost, desperate outsiders of society. London probably had more than her fair share of poor trying to eek out some form of survival, having lost their belief in even eking out a living during the late 19th century. 

The streets are just as hazardous for prostitutes. Their murders are just as brutally savage and there is even a double event one night. There are letters to the press, though different from that other story. 

The letters provide us one difference, they are also sent directly to the heroine of the story. Maybe heroine is not the right word for her. Lead character might be more apt, and it is her role that takes this telling from mere horror and mystery to a psychological thriller. This psychological approach is one of the unique twists and the other is the feminist approach.

This feminism is not political or ideological in whole, it is more adding feminine qualities to all main aspects of the story. Take the leading character, Georgia, while she is certainly strong-willed, courageous, and determined, she also shows compassion, weakness, and empathy.

Another interesting facet is the inclusion of living historical persons of the time. The James siblings, William, Henry, and Alice all make some appearance in the story. Alice’s role is the more predominant one. Her role while very much minor is also major support that contributes significantly to the overall development and challenges in the novel.

*I received an advance review copy for free. No compensation for review.

Hey, Mack!

Have you ever picked up a novel, started reading, and felt like you walked through a door into another time, for no other reason than the style of writing? I had that experience this past weekend. I am trying with gusto to wipe out my stack of works that I have been asked to read and review. The work that was next in the line up was Message In A Bullet by Owen Thomas. As you might surmise it is a mystery, but what you would not surmise is that the author’s style is so retro that it is fresh!

Cover Art via Goodreads

The first pages seem like a cheap attempt at noir glam, but that is just the bait. Within a few pages it’s reading like one of those dime store novels in all the best ways. It’s gritty, raw, and monochromatic, but still clever enough to keep you turning pages wondering if you are keeping up with the clues. Everyone is damaged goods still trying to abide by their own versions of virtue.

This is the debut story for the main character’s series. In good dime store fashion he is a self-persecuting, redemption denying, relentless gumshoe from some of the toughest city streets and dirtiest halls of justice that America has to offer and none of it is softened by Thomas. Mack is just the kinda guy you would imagine having the nerve to work the streets of Chicago and just the guy that you would want on your side if you are in a bind. Additionally, now as a widower and “retired” detective he doesn’t have much to lose, but lots to gain, including his sanity.

The piece is a great weekend escape or Friday night date, one-night stand. With no next morning regrets. The chapters flip past just like the play list of the local band at the American Legion Hall. The story is constantly moving forward with just enough memory lane detours to not make it a marathon run in sprint mode. So pour that glass of merlot, turn off the phone, and spend the night with Mack and his motley crew of ghosts and cohorts.

*Copy Received For Review.