This is a wonderful book! I started reading on Friday, and finished on Saturday evening. Really hard to put down.
Whitechapel: The Final Stand of Sherlock Holmes is a telling of the Jack the Ripper history with Sherlock Holmes (and Dr. Watson). The history is accurate, the main suspect is one of the many suspects in the Ripper case and the Sherlock Holmes narrative is not slavishly written as if Arthur Conan Doyle had written it. Bernard Schaffer has his own voice, and it is a good one.
We are introduced to each of the victims and get to know them a little immediately before their demise. This is much like most of the books I've read on the subject. The story surrounding the suspect is changed from his personal history, but that's okay. He isn't one of the suspects that most people even think about any more -- most interest in him was in the 1960's. His fictionalize history is much more interesting anyway.
The 'Sherlock Holmes' in this story is very different from any of the Conan Doyle stories. This story takes place after the last Conan Doyle story. Holmes is deep into his addiction to cocaine and heroine and is definitely not the well-spoken character of days gone by. He is nasty and mean or whiny and self-pitying by turns. Dr. Watson is cast as something of a saint... for a little while. His patience has worn thin, however, and by the time he announces his engagement, which news is summarily brushed off as unimportant, he is ready to let Holmes out of his life. Or so it seems.
Bernard Schaffer did a wonderful job with a story that I've been wondering about since reading the Conan Doyle stories as a teen and watching Basil Rathbone in The Hound of the Baskervilles one Saturday afternoon. This mystery of murder and evil and madness was one that ONLY Sherlock Holmes could solve. After all, he WAS the premiere detective of the age!
I look forward to more books by Mr. Schaffer.