Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Published on: December 1, 2009
Page Count: 336
Genre: Sherlockian Mystery
My Reading Format: Audiobook downloaded via Downpour
Audiobook Published by: Blackstone Audio
Narrator: Simon Vance
Audiobook Length: 9 hours 30 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
There is a serial killer loose on the streets of London and the panic is rising with each murder. This man has penned himself Jack the Ripper. He is no ordinary murderer, but Sherlock Holmes is on the case and he is no ordinary detective. When Holmes and Watson happen upon the scene of a recent murder, a local newspaper reporter begins to theorize in his column that Holmes himself is Jack the Ripper. This public accusation both increases the urgency with which Holmes searches for his nemeses and makes it dangerous for Holmes to be recognized by the terrified populous on the London streets where Jack the Ripper prowls. By his side is the ever loyal Watson, who chronicles Holmes’ quest for the killer so that someday the world will know the whole truth of what happened in Whitechapel district during 1888.
Before reading Dust and Shadow, I had never before read any Sherlockian mysteries either written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or others who have carried on the tradition. I loved Faye’s The Gods of Gotham earlier this year and when I learned that Simon Vance narrated her first novel, I knew I had to listen. Luckily, Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson are so firmly ensconced in popular culture that I needed no further introduction to begin the story. I enjoyed this book from the very beginning. When as well written as Faye’s, mysteries revolving around Jack the Ripper are endlessly fascinating. Still, what has stuck with me long after Holmes solves the case are those those things that I never knew about him before picking up this audiobook.
I had always envisioned Holmes to be humoring Watson when he let the man tag along with him on his adventures. While Watson readily admits to admiring Holmes’ superior skills of deduction, he very much takes care of both Holmes’ person and his legacy. While he wants future generations to understand the contributions Holmes made during his lifetime, Watson is deeply concerned about his friend’s drug use. That Holmes used cocaine to ease his boredom in between cases surprised me and deepened my understanding of the detective and his relationship with Watson. I also enjoyed how open minded Holmes was about his fellow man. He was certainly strategic in selecting sources, but he in no way judged his associates. He treated them fairly and with respect. In many ways, his trust in Mary Ann Monk and their working relationship was a highlight of the book.
No better narrator could have been paired with this book. Simon Vance’s tone and pacing were spot on. Those who question “why audiobooks?” need look no further than some of the character rich scenes he performed in this audiobook. There is one memorable scene in particular that was audiobook bliss. Holmes and Watson are in Whitechapel when they run into a vocal group of locals. Had I not seen Vance’s June Is Audiobook Month video from 2011 where he spent a minute and a half going from one accent to the next (embeded at the end of the review), I would never have believed something like that could possibly be recorded all at one time. Even after watching that video I am in awe of how quickly Vance can distinctively and consistently give voice to numerous characters within a single conversation.
As I can attest, you don’t have to be a Sherlockian or have ever read any Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in order to appreciate and thoroughly enjoy Dust and Shadow. Lyndsay Faye is a vivid storyteller with a special talent for sharp dialog. I could almost feel the chill as I took in the sights and sounds of Whitechapel. Coupled with Simon Vance’s narration, this novel can’t be beat for entertainment value. As much as I loved The Gods of Gotham and am thrilled that Lyndsay Faye is writing a sequel to Timothy’s story, it is my deepest desire to see Faye and Vance team up again for another delicious Sherlockian adventure.
Simon Vance takes us around the world in 90 seconds with accents: