by William Ritter
Abigail Rook arrives in New England determined to make it on her own. The young Englishwoman immediately seeks employment, but the only job available is assistant to R. F. Jackaby, supernatural investigator and resident town weirdo. Jackaby agrees to take on Abigail after realizing her observation of mundane details neatly complements his own skills. On her first day, Abigail and Jackaby are confronted with a serial killer who drains his victims' blood. The police want nothing to do with Jackaby and his tales of extraordinary, supernatural killers, but if he and Abigail can not identify the person responsible he will surely strike again.
If you're looking for a strong-willed and entertaining heroine, Abigail is your girl. Born to a life of privilege in England, she abandoned it to excavate bones on a paleontological dig. When that project abruptly ended, Abigail sailed to America rather than return home to her parents and a more conventional life. Abigail is smart, funny, and modern – yet she's unusual, not impossible. She's a natural successor to spunky protagonists like Jacky Faber and other female adventurers.
Familiar with stories of Sherlock Holmes, she initially assumes Jackaby uses Holmes' rational deduction to figure out the secrets hidden by the residents of New Fiddleham. R. F. Jacaby's intuition stems from a far more mysterious place, as he can see and hear that which others cannot. He shrouds himself in mystery and even Abigail can rarely penetrate the facade. Their conversations are so much fun as Jackaby skillfully evades answering Abigail's questions. There is so little revealed about his character. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not even sure how old Jackaby is meant to be. Abigail describes him as a young man with eyes a hundred lifetimes old, but she definitely doesn't give the impression that they are contemporaries.
The mystery of the serial killer is one of the weaker aspects of the novel, in that the identity of the murderer is telegraphed early and frequently. Most readers will solve the mystery far puzzle than the two detectives – well, detective and his assistant – which makes Jackaby and Abigail seem a bit slow on the uptake. But the strength of the book rests not on the plot but on the characters and their interactions with each other. Abigail and Jackaby, Jackaby and his testy relationship with the local police officers, Abigail and a cute puppy dog of a policeman who helps the detectives on the case...the relationships between all of these characters add up to a fantastic, rich world that is utterly delightful to visit.
I'm glad that I discovered this series rather late because I don't have to wait for the sequel, Beastly Bones. I want to go back to New Fiddleham as soon as possible to learn more about the mysterious world of R. F. Jackaby Investigative Services.
4.5 out of 5 stars
To read more about Jackaby, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: Before Tomorrowland by Jeff Jensen, Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof, and Jonathan Case
2014: Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier
2013: Crystal Bones (Faelin Chronicles #1) by C. Aubrey Hall
2012: Fashionista Piranha on hiatus until May 24th...
2011: In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
2010: O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell
2009: Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter by R. J. Anderson