In late nineteenth century London, it was commonly believed that crimes were committed out of habit or need, not passion. Indeed, the existence of serial killers was unheard until the killings of Jack the Ripper. Likewise, criminology, forensics, fingerprint identification were also radical. It was also the first time a detective is brutally murdered in this Victorian society.
Although Inspector Walter Day has little confidence in himself, he is chosen to replace retired Edwards as the newest member of Scotland Yard. Despite his lack of experience, he is now responsible for catching the man, or woman, who stabbed Detective Christian Little multiple times and sewed his mouth shut.
With the help of self-appointed forensic examiner Dr. Kingsley, Hammersmith, and Blackleg, Day discovers new clues that seem to be leading him closer to the killer. Not too long after a dancing homeless man, Henry, discovers the murder weapon, a young girl discovers another trunk… Another officer killed.
The second death only increases anxiety for the detectives who are already swamped with hundreds of crimes, most of which go unsolved. The fact that there are more crimes than detectives in the city only means that detectives must work overtime, are often unmarried, and have little time to wash or change their clothes. Thus, I would say that this book sheds light on the life of detectives, which Hollywood tends to glorify.
Ultimately it was a good read. Each murderer is gradually revealed to the reader, but at a much faster pace than they are revealed to the detectives. It is a thrilling book with such detailed descriptions that I had to skip over a few lines to keep myself from picturing the words in my head.