1756, English-ruled Ireland, and its largest city, Dublin, is experiencing its own version of the murderous rampage of London’s Jack the Ripper. A convicted serial murderer mysteriously commits suicide under the watch of guards in the sordid city jail. After a brief sigh of relief, all of Dublin is horrified to suffer from an even more hideous chain of slayings by what they believe is the reincarnated spirit of Olocher, the condemned prisoner. Even worse, the resurrected killer now takes the mutated form of a Man-Pig.
An unlikely team, Merriment O’Grady, apothecary and former ship’s surgeon, accompanied by Solomon Fish, a failed pamphleteer with a tortured past, must both strive to find the true murderer at the same time as they are incidentally pursued by cutthroats and a revenge- minded and crazed fundamentalist zealot.
The author cleverly masters the Georgian venue, time period, and Irish vernacular in her narrative. I know how difficult this can be. To soften the increasing and graphically described horror of the tale, she introduces two immensely appealing Irish waifs, Janey Mack and Corker, who will leave the reader rolling with laughter—which seems somehow incongruous. The abject poverty of much of Dublin is tragically described, and the indifference of the occupying “Ascendancy” reveals how awful these times were.
This is, in one sense, a twisting crime tale which must be followed closely to the very end. It seems to alternately sparkle, amuse and frighten. Nevertheless, it is ultimately a grand love story, notwithstanding the syphilitic English aristocrat who tries to order pistol-packing Merri to perform an abortion or he’ll close her shop. Merriment, Sol, Corker and especially Janey Mack will captivate the reader. For fans of this genre, The Dolocher is a must read.