Title: What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper
Author: Paula Marantz Cohen
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: September 7, 2010
Paperback: 352 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Under Certain Circumstances, No One Is More Suited to Solving a Crime than a Woman Confined to Her Bed
An invalid for most her life, Alice James is quite used to people underestimating her. And she generally doesn’t mind. But this time she is not about to let things alone. Yes, her brother Henry may be a famous author, and her other brother William a rising star in the new field of psychology. But when they all find themselves quite unusually involved in the chase for a most vile new murderer—one who goes by the chilling name of Jack the Ripper—Alice is certain of two things:
No one could be more suited to gather evidence about the nature of the killer than her brothers. But if anyone is going to correctly examine the evidence and solve the case, it will have to be up to her.
What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen takes a look at Henry, William, and Alice James and how they each use their talents to help Scotland Yard find Jack the Ripper. While William James is the person Scotland Yard has summoned from Harvard to help assist them, it is his brother Henry James who circulates among the elite in London as well as the with the great artists of the time. Meanwhile, bedridden Alice is the one who collects what her brothers have learned be it through official channels or dinner parties and newspaper clipping and ponders the clues. Cohen beautifully captures the time period, dialects, behaviours and details to bring about this most extraordinary story. Each character has been carefully thought out and well written, down to the slightest detail. I found the novel impossible to put down, shushing my family so I could finish, so engrossed was I into the lives of the James siblings and the quest to track down Jack the Ripper. I without reservation recommend What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper to anyone who enjoys an excellent mystery told in a most curious manner.
Paula Marantz Cohen is Distinguished Professor of English at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Jane Austen in Boca, Jane Austen in Scarsdale, and Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan, and four scholarly works of nonfiction. She lives in Moorestown, New Jersey, with her husband and two children.
I received a complimentary copy of What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen from Sourcebooks. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.