Title: The Daemoniac
Series: A Dominion Mystery #1
Author: Kat Ross
Publication Date: October 12, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Historical, Young Adult
From the author—
It’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.
But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.
From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?
Harrison Fearing Pell has an older sister, Myrtle Fearing Pell, who’s quite famous….infamous, if you will….as a Pinkerton detective and Harry is bored so, when opportunity arises, she takes on a case of her own. With the help of her best friend, aspiring doctor John Weston, Harry sets out to find a missing man and life for these two will never be the same.
New York City itself is a character in the story with it’s dark streets, corruption, crime and all the squalid glories of its 1880’s existence, all of that enhanced by the hints that perhaps something truly evil is going on as they search for Robert Straker. Robert had fallen on hard times and his friends, Leland and Elizabeth Brady, are understandably alarmed when he vanishes following a frightening visit to a spiritualist, even more so when a vicious murder turns the investigation on its ear.
Harry and John are a most appealing pair and The Daemoniac is a lovely sendup of mystery and the coming Jack the Ripper atmosphere, leavened by the across-the-pond assistance of Harry’s “uncle”, Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as the inimitable reporter, Nellie Bly . Frequent nods to the Sherlock Holmes canon and a blend of charm and darkness turned this first volume of a hopefully long-running series into a few hours of pure pleasure and I’m looking forward to much more.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2016.
About the Author
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.
Follow the tour here.