Stalking Jack: The Hunt Begins
Guest article by Madison Kent
In August of 1888, one of the most notorious murderers of all time made his mark known to the world through the heinous slaying of five women in the slums of Whitechapel, England. Madeline Donovan, a widow from Chicago, is about to arrive in London just as Jack the Ripper’s first victim appears, mutilated with her throat sliced clear to the bone. She had traveled to London for a respite from a recent tragedy in her life. The purpose of her trip to London changes after that, and she seeks to go into the streets of Whitechapel to ferret out any information about this menace.
She is still aboard the SS City of New York, when word reaches the ship about the murders, and her intent to embrace solitude is then cast off. She has a chance encounter with Jonathan Franks, a reporter from the New York Times, who has been sent to cover the story. She also meets some dowager ladies, who will seek her help to find their niece, Polly Nichols. Pearly Poll has been lost to the streets, living in Whitechapel as a prostitute. When they learn of the recent murders in Whitechapel, they are determined to find her and bring her home.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has just published his first mystery, which introduces the world to the inimitable Sherlock Holmes, the detective Madeline wishes to emulate. She imagines herself as a female sleuth taking on her first case. She chooses a unique character to assist her as her Dr. Watson.
Together they try to unravel the curious and frightening events that are about to occur in Whitechapel.
She read every page in the newspaper Phillip had brought her about the ripper and then walked about the deck looking for any other newspapers that had been discarded on a table or chair. In the Star, the details read like the diary of Dracula. It was an evening chronicle with a reputation for shocking their readers with graphic details. The inked pictures portrayed a monster at work. Her planned day of enjoying the sun with some brisk walking and studious letter writing was now for another time. She thought about Sherlock, and wondered what it would be like if he did exist and could hunt down this villain called Jack. Life was not like that, the tragic ending pervasive in its conquest of us. She was in her 29th year, and she did not remember anything happening similar to this in her hometown of Chicago. There were murders, of course, but none that she remembered that were so repugnant, as if a demon came from the underground to commit them.
“Mrs. Donovan?” said a neatly tailored steward.
“Phillip described you perfectly and asked me to give this to you.”
Gently breaking the black wax seal on the white card, she read:
I gladly accept your invitation for dinner, and will meet you promptly at 8:00 p.m. in the Grand Saloon area. If this is not to your convenience, please reply.
Mr. Jonathan Franks
“Any answer to be relayed, Mrs. Donovan?”
“Please kindly tell Mr. Franks I will see him tonight at 8:00 p.m.”.
The sun was high in to the sky by the time she looked up from her reading. She decided to dedicate a section in her journal to Ripper Notes.
August 12, 1888 – Jack the Ripper
I read with scrutiny the particulars of this man the newspapers have labeled “Jack the Ripper”. Perhaps because of my own recent tragedy, or perhaps because of the influence of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the detective in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, I find myself trying to see if I can glean any clues from the many articles I have read, and from the few Londoner’s that I have spoken with who are more than willing to tell all they have heard of this devil man. The accounts all vary, and I only have my recollection of what they have said, because it would not be seemly to have written down their words as they spoke, that would never do.
I must say that after so long from refraining from conversation in polite society, I find it was not as painful, as I thought it would be, although, I can probably attribute that to the subject matter which left no one with awkward silent hesitation or feeling that it was necessary to inject mundane questions about one’s health or family.
On further investigation, it appears the murderer himself wrote to the newspapers a letter which he signed, “Jack the Ripper”. It is uncertain, if the killer himself is the actual author of this letter, but the name will now probably be immortalized. It is a fitting name. Martha was stabbed 300 times, he sliced her into pieces. As for now, he is attributed to having murdered several woman, all being in the prostitution business. That to me explains how easily he would have confronted them, as they were most likely soliciting them. I hope to ascertain more information from Mr. Jonathan Franks during our dinner engagement this evening.
She would write father now, deciding it would not be prudent to include any references to Jack and allow her father to believe she had no knowledge of this news.
I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. If I know you, you will not be the best company, as you will be worrying about your only daughter. I am fine, Father, and trying to take in all the wonder of this voyage. In the past, I think I was too busy when on a voyage like this, and that I did not see all the life around me, and now I am observing it with new eyes. I am reading A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for the second time, it is that amusing.
I am taking advantage of the activities available and having peaceful evenings listening to the orchestra.
Reviews on Amazon:
Reviews are from: Stalking Jack: The Hunt Begins... (Madeline Donovan Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
“Madison Kent has created an intriguing period piece with the famous villain Jack the Ripper and a heroin, Madeline Donovan, who is chasing her own demons as well as Jack. Madeline evokes the image of a Jane Austin character with a dark side who is obsessed with rooting out the evil in London's Whitechapel district. Skillfully written, the novel maintains its mystery and intrigue about the villain and heroin throughout.” ~ By Marilyn McGair
Totally enjoyed this novel, right till I read the final sentence. - brilliant writing, terrific story. The author is a born storyteller; she takes you back to that time and place that is 1888 London with great skill and imagination. She uses sensory detail to great effect. Madison Kent (Author) brings each and every one of her characters including the lead Madeline Donovan alive on the page; made me care about them. Well researched. Easily the best Ripper novel I’ve read to date. I will be looking for more from this talented author. The perfect book Ripper fans and those new to the Ripper stories. ~ By Emma Parker