Book Review: The Abduction of Pretty Penny

The most recent installment of the Daughter of Sherlock Holmes mystery series does not disappoint. It ups the ante for lovers of historical fiction, bringing in a fascinating tale of the return of Jack the Ripper. 

With the recent popularity of cold cases and true crime stories, The Abduction of Pretty Penny fits right in, scratching that itch by getting inside the mind of arguably the most infamous killer the world has ever known. It takes historical facts about the victims Jack the Ripper chose, as well as his distinct MO of carving out their organs, and proposes a set of convincing suspects hiding in plain sight.

When Pretty Penny, a talented actress from the wrong side of the tracks, is abducted, it is up to Joanna Blalock and company to figure out what has become of her. When clues turn up that connect Pretty Penny to other unfortunate women who have turned up killed – and mutilated – they quickly realize Jack the Ripper has come out of retirement after 28 years to terrorize the poor women of the Whitechapel area once more. 

The book’s author, Dr. Leonard Goldberg, obviously had a great time speculating on the possible motivations, profession, and personality of Jack the Ripper. And I had a great time being brought along for the ride. He brought in just enough of the real-life clues from the first Jack the Ripper investigation to weave a convincing tale of his resurrection. And, unlike the real events of the late 1800s, The Abduction of Pretty Penny actually gives us closure. 

As with the other Daughter of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Joanna Blalock provides a unique way of looking at clues that allows her to see things that even the professionals at Scotland Yard miss. And because the case is in her capable hands, we feel confident that Pretty Penny will live to play another day. 

But as the days tick by, and the death toll approaches five – the magic number – we start to worry that Jack the Ripper may thwart the authorities yet again. He even sends a letter to Joanna, mocking her and promising that her son will meet the same fate as the Unfortunates. Each woman has received a gift of copper earrings before her death, and when Joanna’s son receives a set of copper cuff links for his birthday, the sense of foreboding is inescapable.
Will Joanna be able to save Pretty Penny – and her son – from Jack the Ripper’s twisted scalpel? The Abduction of Pretty Penny keeps us guessing until the very end.

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