A Deadly Deception (A Constance Piper Mystery)

Written by Tessa Harris
Review by Monica E. Spence

1889. In the eight months since his horrific murder of Mary Jane Kelly, the Ripper remains uncaught. Even as the specter of his five killings grows distant, the women of London, especially those in the Whitechapel district, remain vigilant. Constance Piper still peddles flowers in areas favored by the gentry, so she does not have to resort to selling herself to bring in her daily bread, as so many wretched women must. Constance has the psychic gift of second sight: she sees the unseen, including the spirit of Emily Tindall, her late teacher and friend, who watches over Constance in her third foray as an amateur detective.

Discontent seethes in the neediest districts of Victorian London. Food and coal are exorbitantly expensive, and the poor are literally abandoned by those in power. The undercurrent of hunger, deprivation, and fear make London ripe for treason. The Fenian Brotherhood is trying to force the Crown to give Ireland its independence by using bombs to achieve their aim, and to hell with the innocent caught in the fallout. Saucy Jack is not the only one with blood on his hands.

Were the Fenians complicit in the murder of the Countess of Kildare’s uncle? And what of Mary Jane Kelly? Was she really the fifth victim of Jack’s bloody rampage? Constance sees a dark web of deceit, but she cannot unravel it from the edges, but rather she must discover the evil at its center.

This is the third novel in the Constance Piper Mystery series, and I have read them all and relished each one. This novel is as tension-filled and psychologically disturbing as the others, and it challenges the accepted Ripper canon brilliantly. Once again Harris paints her word-pictures with a master’s skill, which kept me turning pages until the finish. I anxiously anticipate the next book in the series. Recommended.