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The Ripper's Shadow

(Victorian Mystery #1)

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,039 ratings  ·  201 reviews
The year is 1888 and Jack the Ripper begins his reign of terror.

Miss Sarah Bain, a photographer in Whitechapel, is an independent woman with dark secrets. In the privacy of her studio, she supplements her meager income by taking illicit “boudoir photographs” of the town's local ladies of the night. But when two of her models are found gruesomely murdered within weeks of on
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by Crooked Lane Books
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this series debut, Laura Joh Rowland takes readers back to the some of the eerie events from late 19th century London, when a killer lurked in the shadows, eviscerating their victims. It’s 1888 in London’s Whitechapel District and business is booming for photographer Sarah Bain. Having taken over her father’s business, Sarah has cornered the market on capturing people in their daily lives. To make a few extra quid, she’s taken on the lucrative—and illegal—trade of boudoir photos, early pornog ...more
Meet Sarah Bain! She's an emotionally closed off photographer in 1880's London. She's got a cheap studio in White Chapel where she's been paying the bills lately by taking "boudoir photos" of ladies of the evening. This is a clandestine operation because its Victorian England and everyone is a virginal snowflake and super profitable because its Victorian England and everyone's a sex fiend. Sarah's had a hard life partly because her mom sucked and her dad died and partly because she's a single wo ...more
Jody McGrath
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a very new take on The Jack the Ripper killings. It involves a woman photographer who take boudoir (soft core porn) pictures of prostitutes. These are the girls that make the cut. (No pun intended). It also brings together a motley crew of outsiders who were the best part of the story.
My problem with the book was that a lot was repeated and the flow was really slow. That being said it was a nice alternate reality.

* I read an ARC of this book and gave an honest review *
Primrose Jess
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Well. Crap. What is one to do when the novel you selected for a whodunit postal group exchange is rather lacking... hope that it provides much material for journal entries?

This is my pick for a postal group mystery/thriller exchange for the upcoming year. I love a good Jack the Ripper story. I've been fascinated with the time period, the investigation, the theories, and not to be morbid but the killer/victims as well. I've read bios, watched numerous documentaries, and also love fiction based
Apr 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
And the prize for The Most Irritating Mystery In The Solar System goes to . . . it's a toss up between Dan Brown's consummately stupid Da Vinci Code and this piece of literary poop. My nose is sore from all the snorting I did as I plowed through the first half - at which point, I quit. Rowland's heroine is a young woman photographer who has a secret trust fund, for the only time you see her working, she doesn't charge for her pictures. Remember, the story is set in 1888, so the idea of a profess ...more
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Introductory novel to a series set in Victorian London. Sarah is our central protagonist. She is a photographer by sustaining vocation. She's solitary, family deceased. But every character is Dickens-like, IMHO. Aristocrat with a slumming secret and associations of "understanding"- a scrappy young teen, a prostitute with a heart of gold, a clever and industrious young woman (virgin as usual), a clean and adequate of funds and job "good guy" cop, and of course, the baddie, baddie monster.

So becau
An excellent read. Great character development! One of the better reads I've had on the topic ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Compelling, sensitive and provocative.

First up I need to declare that I am a huge fan of Laura Joh Rowland. I have read all of her
Sano Ichiro Novel's and loved them. But this work is a far departure from those detective novels set in feudal Japan. Yet it contains the distinctive Rowland stamp of complex mystery and chilling intrigue.
The thing about Rowland is that she approaches a topic slightly out of left field. I was wondering how she was going to write another 'yawn' Jack the Ripper novel a
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was one of the best books I have read in a very long time. I literally could not put it down. I read it from cover to cover in one sitting. Since I am a somewhat slow reader, because I want to absorb every nuance of a book, it took me about eight straight hours to read this... and it was worth every single second!

In this novel, Rowland adds a fresh, new twist to the legend of Jack the Ripper. Every single character is rich and vibrant and crafted with such depth. You start to feel as
Kris - My Novelesque Life
2017; Crooked Lane Books

The title of The Ripper's Shadow both intrigued me and turned me off. There are so many things out there with the Ripper's myth I wasn't sure if I wanted to take on another. I am so glad I decided to go for it as I loved this book. Sarah Bain, the protagonist, is a savvy fierce lead. She is a photographer, that runs her own studio, but to make actual money she photographs local women "of the night". When two of the women she photographed turn up brutally mu
Brenda H
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Ripper’s Shadow by Laura Joh Rowland is the first book in the Victorian Mystery series. In this story, the year is 1888 and Jack the Ripper is terrorizing London. Sarah Bain, a photographer in Whitechapel, believes that she may know how The Ripper is finding his victims…and it’s her fault.

Sarah is living on the edge, barely making enough from her photography to pay her monthly rent and to feed herself. So, when one of the streetwalkers of Whitechapel proposes a way to make money from illicit
Kathy Martin
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Miss Sarah Bain is a photographer in Whtechapel in London in 1888. She supplements her income by taking "naughty" photographs of prostitutes which happens to be a crime. When her subjects start being murdered in gruesome ways, she decides that she has to protect them and herself by finding the killer.

Sarah is assisted by a street urchin named Mick, a homosexual aristocrat named Hugh, a Jewish butcher and his wife, and a lovely young actress. After years of keeping people at a distance, Sarah is
3.5 stars raised to 4 stars. I got an ARC of third book of this series and had a few Audible credits so I picked up this one and the second one. I really liked the narrator which always helps an audiobook. I liked that the MC was a woman and very independent. I liked that she was a photographer. I really liked Mick and Hugh as well. They are a fun, good team. There were some gruesome parts, it is Jack the Ripper after all, but they didn't put me off the book. Some improbable parts/people/actions ...more
Dec 13, 2018 added it
Shelves: dnf
DNF @ 124 pages

I don't rate DNF's. This was not at all what I was hoping for. This is the second book that I was very excited for because of the cover and the concept. Both fell so short of my high expectations, but at least I finished the other one. I couldn't even do that with this one. I have never read a mystery that was considered a cozy mystery but it seemed like that's what this one was trying to be. I absolutely wasn't expecting that with a book that is supposed to be about a woman taki
Tracie Gutknecht
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book wasn't what I was expecting--in a good way.

Sarah Bain is a photographer in London. She lives near the Whitechapel district, but is slightly better off financially than many in that area. She keeps to herself and lives a quiet life. That all changes when some of her photographic subjects are murdered. Most of these girls were prostitutes and the photos she took of them were boudoir photos. She is concerned for the lives of the other girls and is determined to save them from the same fat
Joe Slavinsky
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
I've read all 18, of Ms Rowland's "Sano Ichiro" series, which was set in feudal Japan. There was lots of samurai action, political intrigue, and life and death tension. It was overly dramatic, but that seemed appropriate. I suspect she discontinued the series, because she had wrung out every last melodramatic moment. This book is not only overtly melodramatic, it stretches believability to the max. The premise is an original new take on the Ripper, which made me pick up the book, but the executi ...more
Fantastic! Laura Joh Rowland takes the reader on a wild and wonderful journey through the streets of Whitechapel. Through the eyes of Sarah Bain, photographer, who has secrets and baggage, London 1888 comes alive in this Jack the Ripper interpretation. Sarah is single, in her 30s, and keeps to herself. But in this book she finds herself surrounded by a circle of people all different from each other as they can be - and they all become friends as they try to identify the Ripper (or, Rippers). I c ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
I just could not finish this which is too bad because really loved Rowland's Japanese history novels. The protagonist was a wimp; there were just too many improbable actions and I did not like any of the other characters. ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book kept me wanting to keep reading it. Every time I put it down, I wanted to pick it back up and read some more. I was glad to see that there are more books in this series and that the story continues with the same characters!
This reminded me why I've moved away from reading much historical fiction in recent years: too much explanation of the period, too much inclusion of pointless historical details that the author couldn't bear to edit for the sake of plot and character. Added to that is a pill of a heroine who hammers out every point she makes, and tons of gratuitous sexual details (even for a book where several characters are prostitutes). I really love Victorian London as a topic and find Jack the Ripper interes ...more
There's something about a mystery that occurs in the Victorian or Edwardian period that I love -- who knows why? Perhaps because of the Sherlock Holmes stories I read in my high school years....
Anyway, this takes place during the Victorian period, and main character Sarah Bain, a photographer with a deep mistrust of everyone because of her father's disappearance when she was a child and her mother's subsequent fear and scepticism over others' motives, becomes involved with a small group of peopl
J. Roslyn
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Laura Joh Rowland skillfully weaves facts with fiction in her convincing take on the Jack the Ripper murders. As her tale unfolds, she also demonstrates that the 21st century holds no monopoly on vicious killers or on odd-sock families created not by blood but by warm friendship.

Sarah Bain is thirty-something and unmarried, which in the London of 1888, means she is considered a spinster. After her father died, Sarah kept his photography business going in the heart of the East End of London. Phot
Linda Munro
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Here is an all new idea as to who Jack Ripper was and why he suddenly disappeared! Very imaginative! Extremely Interesting!

Sarah Bain is a single woman, a photographer living in Whitechapel. She runs her business as Bain & son; a more respectable name for the era. Sarah, however, has deep, dark, secrets; because, everyone needs to do what they must simply to get by. Sarah takes ‘boudoir photographs’ of local ladies of the night!

Sarah realizes something early on; two of her boudoir models have be
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book. This was a very different take on Jack the Ripper and I can see how some people found it far-fetched that Sarah and her misfit band try to solve the murders, however, this is fiction. There are numerous Victorian heroines solving crimes in the fiction world. I liked each of the characters a great deal, except maybe PC Barrett (although he comes through at times). Now, some people didn’t like the “pornographic” descriptions of some photos taken by Sarah and I wasn’t crazy a ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-books
I apparently LOVE all fiction takes on the Ripper case, because damn. I love how "real" this book feels. Nothing in it is sugar-coated and it gives a really good picture of how it was to be poor in Victorian London. The main character Sarah isn't a fancy lady with big puffy dresses. She nearly gets by and has to take some shady pictures of streetwalkers and sell them in an underground environment that the police doesn't even know exists.

She's endlessly afraid of the police and when her models t
Mary Montgomery
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh my gosh I called this the "damn book." It almost made me late for stuff and I had a really hard time ever putting it down.

Ms. Rowland is an excellent writer. I think most of her characters are very well-developed and the action is flawless. She also inserted some history, which I always enjoy. And you have to admit the subject matter is engrossing.

I'm thinking this is the first in a series, and I'll be reading them all.
Anne Maesaka
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a completely different look at the Jack the Ripper murders. The story follows a female photographer that believes the Ripper is murdering her clients. There is a cast of interesting characters that join her to try and solve the Ripper murders before the police do. The book moves along quickly. There were times when I thought there were to many obstacles that were thrown in the story. It is a quick and enjoyable read.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
I am a little sorry I finished this one and wasted my time on it. Memorable review on this book's page here by Sara. Wow, there is so much to dislike, unfortunately, I thought that it would be a new take on the Ripper murders, and it was, but I didn't care by the time the "team" figured it out. The characters, especially Sarah Bain, were just too weird and unlikable. ...more
Jessica Fellows
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Better than I expected. I normally a biography reader but my interest in the history of Jack the Ripper and a challenge got me to read this retelling of Jack the Ripper. Weaved into the story were historical facts and new storylines that keep you forgetting that there is no known identity of Jack the Ripper. Well told.
Very disappointed in this. The premise is interesting - that the Ripper's victims were pornographic photographic subjects of the narrator - but the narrator's voice (not to mention her mores) is a modern one. ...more
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Granddaughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, Laura Joh Rowland grew up in Michigan and where she graduated with a B.S. in microbiology and a Master of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She currently lives in New Orleans with her husband. She has worked as a chemist, microbiologist, sanitary inspector and quality engineer.

Other books in the series

Victorian Mystery (5 books)
  • A Mortal Likeness (Victorian Mystery, #2)
  • The Hangman's Secret (Victorian Mystery #3)
  • The Woman in the Veil (Victorian Mystery #4)
  • Portrait of Peril (Victorian Mystery #5)

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