Synopsis: Private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant Thomas Llewelyn help out Scotland Yard in hunting Jack the Ripper in the seventh entry in the Barker & Llewelyn Victorian mystery series.
Review: The Barker & Llewelyn books just get more detailed and complex over time! This was an enjoyable, if gruesome, addition to the series.
The year is 1888, and a killer targeting prostitutes is terrorizing Whitechapel. The assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard asks Private Enquiry Agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, to help with the investigation.
Anatomy of Evil is the seventh book in the Barker & Llewelyn series by Will Thomas, and it is just as interesting as the other books, but it has a more somber overtone due to the terror and nature of Jack the Ripper.
Pulling many historical details into the book, Will Thomas writes an informative, fascinating tale of Victorian London, and the city comes alive. With the sights and smells of the city comes the terror of a madman running loose, and you feel the civilian’s paranoia and the mob mentality.
Since the mystery is based on Jack the Ripper, it is a bit more serious and gruesome than other books in the series. I missed the fun and lightness of earlier entries, but since the series takes place in Victorian London, there almost has to be a tackling of the Jack the Ripper storyline. This is handled cleverly and is fascinating in all of its detail. I’ve only read a few books that tackle this particular crime, and this one ended differently then the others I’ve read, and I enjoyed learning something new about Jack the Ripper and the time frame.
Anatomy of Evil was chock full of historical detail, which helps bring the setting to life. There is mention of Whitechapel having a predominantly Jewish population, and one of Llewelyn’s best friends is a socialist and a reporter. There is talk of a famous men’s brothel being raided, which was based on history. You even learn how Whitechapel got its name, and many other historical details that drove me to the Internet to learn more. There are also many real life characters that make an appearance, from the Duke of Clarence, to Freddy Aberline, to George Lusk.
Since Barker and Llewelyn are working with Scotland Yard on this case, there was a lot of police intrigue and politics along with the working of the Jack the Ripper case. I found these sections the least interesting. Not that they were boring, not in any way, they just weren’t as interesting as Jack the Ripper, which I do admit to having a fascination with his crimes and his story.
In terms of characters, Cyrus Barker is his usual mysterious self, and there was one scene that gives the reader new insight into his past which we’ve waited seven books for. That scene was a real treat to longtime followers of the series. But what is different about this book is that Llewelyn takes center stage. Which was great, it was nice to see a change and to see Llewelyn being more involved in the action, but Cyrus Barker will always be my favorite character in the series.
This really was a great addition to the series; I get more and more impressed with all of the historical detail in every book that Will Thomas writes. If you haven’t read any of the series yet, this is a book that I think you could read without reading the previous books. You may miss some character development, and Barker won’t seem as intimidating and larger than life in this entry, but it is still an enjoyable read.
Bottom Line: Fans of Jack the Ripper retellings and fans of the Barker and Llewelyn series will like this. Anatomy of Evil is an informative historical mystery with a bit of gore and a lot of character.
**I picked up this book a little earlier than I had planned because I recently joined NetGalley, and the next book in the series, Hell Bay, is available on NetGalley right now and I’ve gotten a copy of Hell Bay through NetGalley! So since I hadn’t read this entry yet, off I went to purchase Anatomy of Evil. Hell Bay releases in October, and look for my review of that book sometime towards the end of October.**
And read my review of book six in the series, Fatal Enquiry, here.
What do you think? Are you interested in Jack the Ripper storylines? Or are they too gruesome or too overdone? Do you dream of waking up one day in Victorian London?