I’ve spent way too many hours reading books about Jack the Ripper. And watching movies, documentaries, and docudramas about Jack the Ripper. And searching contemporary newspapers from around-the-world for Jack the Ripper insights.
And months after the publication of my novel Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper (which builds on the Ripper mythology and legend), I’m still immersing myself in Ripper details. And I’m still surprised by how quickly and deeply Jack the Ripper inspired copycats to terrorize, intimidate, and kill people.
As the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on December 1, 1888 (about three weeks after the last “verified” Ripper murder), “Minneapolis Threatened with a Repetition of the Whitechapel Horrors” when the Chief of Police received this letter “Gentlemen—You had better close up the ‘select houses’ on First street before Dec. 8, or you will have a reign of terror and blood equal to the [sic] Whitechapel of London, England.”
And a few weeks later the (Hazelton, Pennsylvania) Plain Speaker reported “A TALE OF HORROR” when “Thirteen year old Mary Gallen endeavored late last night to create the impression that this city contains a youthful ‘Jack the Ripper’…Mary tore madly down the street, her clothing disarranged and blood flowing freely from a cut in her head. She said that Bryon McClelland, aged 15, had attempted to take liberties with her, and that when she resented he cut her with a shoemaker’s knife and threatened to cut her heart out.”
One of the most brutal copycats occurred in Bradford, England, where “The horrible discovery of a young boy’s dead and mutilated body was made at Bradford this morning and the town is wild with excitement fearing that ‘Jack the Ripper’ or apt imitators of his have made their appearance…the police, however, hold the theory that the murder was committed by a gang of drunken lads, whos [sic] minds were inflamed by reading the reports of the Whitechapel tragedies, and wanted to imitate the work of the Whitechapel fiend.”
But enough is enough.
Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper has been out in the world for two months now and it’s time to bid adieu to Ripper research. At least in 2018.
And the laudanum? Well, that research is for Fanny’s second Gilded Age New Orleans Mystery, Fanny Newcomb and the French Quarter Laudanum Lover.
Of course, if someone really, really, really discovers the secret-file-hidden-by-the-Victorian-government-that-absolutely-identifies-the-Ripper, I’m breaking all of my 2018 resolutions!
Gilded Age New Orleans is overrun with prostitutes, pornographers, and a malicious Jack the Ripper copycat. As threatening letters to newspaper editors proclaim, no woman is safe from his blade.
Desperate to know who murdered her favorite student, ambitious typewriting teacher Fanny Newcomb launches into a hunt for the self-proclaimed Irish Channel Ripper.
Fanny quickly enlists the help of her well-connected employers—Principal Sylvia Giddings and her sister Dr. Olive—and together the women forge through saloons, cemeteries, slums, and houses of prostitution.
Fanny’s good intentions quickly infuriate her longtime beau Lawrence Decatur, while her reckless persistence confounds the talented police detective Daniel Crenshaw. Reluctantly, Lawrence and Daniel also lend their talents to Fanny’s investigation.
As the murderer sets a date for his next heinous crime, can Fanny Newcomb and her crew stop the Irish Channel Ripper before he kills again?