Tina's Reviews > What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James & Jack the Ripper

What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen
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's review
Oct 13, 2010

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Read in September, 2010

Though only Alice and Henry get a mention in the title, all three of the famous Jameses play a role in this tale. William James is called in by Scotland Yard to help solve the case of Jack the Ripper. Alice decides she and her brothers are perfectly suited to unravel the mystery with their combined talents. Marantz Cohen expertly weaves these historical characters into an historical mystery to create an intriguing yet plausible solution to this great unsolved crime. She also injects contemporary historical figures, including a cameo by William Chester Minor, the madman whose story is recounted in The Professor and the Madman, seamlessly.

I really enjoyed What Alice Knew. In addition to being a great fictional account of the still unsolved case of Jack the Ripper, it peaked my interest in this fascinating family. As with all books like this, I find myself wanting to know which details are accurate and which are pure fiction. I'll be spending a little time reading up on the Jameses in the next few days and perhaps looking into Marantz Cohen's earlier works. If, like me, you enjoy books that insert historical figures into fictional situations, you will no doubt like What Alice Knew. It is a well-constructed mystery from a talented author.


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