“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion–and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.
Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.
Source: egalley from publisher Algonquin Books for review purposes and I was not compensated in any additional way. All opinions are my own.
Abigail Rook is newly arrived in America after she ran away from home looking for adventure. On her first day, with little money in her pocket and no real skills, she tries to find herself a job and stumbles upon an interesting man with a weird occupation. His name is Jackaby, and he investigates supernatural occurrences. He lets Abigail tag along, though he’s not sure she’s up for the job.
Abigail is reluctant to believe in the things that Jackaby does, but she wants and needs the job, so she’ll continue to be skeptical while assisting her new employer. There are a number of things that cause Abigail to begin to believe, beginning with the ghost who lives in Jackaby’s place of business.
There’s been a murder at a local apartment building, leaving far less blood than there should have been. Then there is the banshee in the apartment upstairs who seems to be pointing to a new victim. It’s a lot to take in on Abigail’s first day. Add to that the adorable junior detective, Charlie Cain, who joins in with Jackaby and Abigail to help find the murderer.
I do love a good mystery, but the great thing about this book is the supernatural element. It’s told through Abigail’s point of view, which is good because we, the audience, are Abigail and Jackaby is our guide into this mysterious other world. Some of these supernatural beings are different than others that I’ve read about and I appreciate that. Jackaby is being marketed as a supernatural Sherlock and I can see why they would go there, but Jackaby is in a class by himself. He’s unique, I think. He’s someone I can’t wait to read more about. He’s an oddball, for sure, and socially inept, but still completely endearing. Abigail’s feistiness and general “up for anything” attitude makes her a great heroine. Together, they make a pretty great team.