Most helpful critical review
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2010
I would have liked to have given this book more stars. It was well written and I liked the character of Winnie Rudge. However, the author seemed to have had several ideas for books in his mind and decided to try to put them all in one novel, creating something that was confusing and which, ultimately, didn't work. We start with Winnie Rudge, the author of children's readers and an astrology book, which has been very successful. She comes to London to stay with her cousin in Hampstead, only to find he has disappeared and there are some builders working in the kitchen who are neurotic about sounds in the chimney stack. We follow Winnie as she hunts down people who know her cousin and try to discover his whereabouts and as she and the builders investigate the noises in the chimney. Then, the story becomes confused. Without wishing to give the plot(s) away, there is a confusion of characters and clues. Winnie believes her ancestor was the character Dickens took Ebenezer Scrooge from and she also has images of Jack the Ripper fleeing to Hampstead and attacking young, pretty servant girls. Jack the Ripper's hunting ground was, obviously, Whitechapel and he attacked middle aged, drunken prostitutes, not pretty young girls. So, if anyone was interested in the book due to links to the Ripper they would be sorely disappointed, as that part of the storyline stretches credulity too far. Overall, the story becomes a bit mired in side plots, with odd characters appearing, sudden side steps into areas we haven't been aware of before and bizarre occurences. I think it could have been a very good book, but I was disappointed at the end and felt the whole thing was simply a mishmash of storylines, which did not add up.