The Gaslight Stalker (Esther & Jack Enright Mystery Book 1)

Written by David Field
Review by K. M. Sandrick

It’s Whitechapel. Yes, that Whitechapel. 1888. Yes, that year. Jack the Ripper. Yes, those stabbings.

The Gaslight Stalker recalls the murders that terrified the residents of Whitechapel and Spitalfields at the time and still fascinate readers of Victorian-era fact and fiction. This rendering of the events is lively, illuminating, and informative.

The book introduces Esther Jacobs, seamstress and neighbor of the first of the Ripper’s victims, and constable Jack Enright—an extremely likable pair who develop a love relationship while following the Ripper’s trail on the backstreets of London. It explores the infighting between the local police Crime Investigation Department and Scotland Yard, as well as the heads of the two criminal divisions—Detective Inspector Reid and Jack’s Uncle Percy—and it gives voice to some of the nastier pieces of work on the streets and in the pubs.

Author David Field was a criminal law professor and practitioner in England before retiring to Australia. His expertise shows. The testimony during the inquests following each death is authoritative and crackles with realistic dialogue. The tension between Reid and Percy Enright is palpable, and their differing viewpoints of the nature and perpetrator of the crimes are understandable and persuasive.

As book one of what the author calls The Esther and Jack Enright mysteries, The Gaslight Stalker is a brisk and entertaining debut. It takes an often-told tale and adds a fresh face. It also provides an answer to those who wonder why the killings stopped yet the murderer was never named.