A Study in Red - The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper by Brian L Porter tells the story of Robert Cavendish, a modern day psychiatrist who is bequeathed a strange set of papers which purport to be the journal of the long-dead infamous Whitechapel Murderer whose crimes gripped the hearts and minds and instilled terror on the streets of Victorian London. As he begins to read the journal, Robert becomes convinced of it’s authenticity and finds that the words of the Ripper have a strange and compelling effect on him. Unable to cast the pages aside he finds himself being drawn into the dark and sinister world of the killer until he is unable to distinguish what is fact and what is fantasy. In short, Robert Cavendish begins to feel as though he is being taken over in some way by the soul of the long-dead Ripper. What happens as he progresses through the journal will disturb and shock the reader as the close dividing line between sanity and madness is explored to the full.
A Study in Red (The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper.) By Brian L. Porter
1888 and London is a grand metropolis of dark alleys and grim tenements, cut off from the sun by thick clouds of smog which also paint the buildings black. It’s the screams, so near, so common, that sends the shivers up your spine. Hardly anyone bothers with those screams as they echo through the streets. Night by night the helpless citizens must walk so very fearfully though these streets. They live in this brutal society where even the police are unable to do anything against a foe as illusive as the shadows. Jack the Ripper stalks the streets, his name on everybody’s lips. He is the terrible evil that lurks in the shadows, attacking the women of Whitechapel so brutally, so callously, so viciously. Cries of Murder are uttered, drifting on the icy breeze, and everyone knows that he has struck again...
Over a century has passed. With the death of his father Robert receives a mysterious old package from his solicitor, full of letters and the request that they be read in sequence along with an ancient journal. This small pile of aged papers seems so innocuous and yet the weight of the words written within can be felt, if you give pause and wonder where that feeling of dread is coming from. His family have been harbouring a secret, a dark secret, a terrible secret – one that might destroy the very soul of the man who must bear this burden.
Brian L. Porter has approached the writing of a Jack the Ripper novel from a new and exciting angle, dispensing with the most obvious routes, he has found the path less travelled and in doing so has found the breathtaking scenery that makes the story work. He has written a story that has more humanity and depth of feeling than one could ever imagine possible given the subject. He has crafted a tale bound to move even the most stoical of hearts.
A Study in Red is seductive; it pulls you in, it draws you closer, it whispers in your ear. You cannot leave it, you cannot put it down – not until the very end – and by then it is far too late; it has you, mind, body and soul.
--Graeme S. Houston, Publisher: Balderdash International Literary Journal.
Terri at CK2S Kwips and Kritiques 4 1/2 Stars
I was immediately struck by the enormous amount of research that went into A Study in Red (The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper). It brought 18th century London to life, making the story almost palpable. For over a hundred years, the mystery of Jack the Ripper has been investigated, written about, and discussed, but never like this. I could feel the cobblestones under my feet, hear the horses and carriages and smell the foul air of the London back alleyways.
The journal was an interesting tool, bringing the reader directly into Jack’s world and the insanity inflicting him. Experiencing the journal with Robert was intense as the mysteries unfold page by page. The suspense kept me engrossed well into the late evening hours, just as Robert had… I can feel the goose bumps now.
The identity of Jack the Ripper has been explored, but never in such a deliciously nail biting manner. Although fiction, the possibilities of who Jack really was and where he came from as well as his unfortunate victims felt all too real thanks to the obvious hard work of the author to create this sensational tale.
Title: A Study in Red: The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper
Author: Brian L. Porter
Genre: Horror/Historical Fiction/Thriller
Published by: Double Dragon Publishing
Format: e-book / trade paperback
Date Released: January 2008
Rating: 8 quills
I picked up A Study in Red: The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper, the cover hinting at the dark secrets contained between the covers. But, the cover didn’t warn of the depth of travel into the mind of a mad man.
Brian L. Porter’s words grab the reader and won’t let go as he describes Robert Cavendish’s reading of the secret journal of the notorious Jack the Ripper. The man’s life changed as he discovered an ancestor’s place in Jack’s life, the workings of The Ripper’s mind, and the terror the mad man invoked.
This book is not one I could sit and read at one time. I would read a section, shiver, and lay the book aside. I had to return to its pages, though. I could not stay away. Part by part I delved into the horror that Porter portrayed in his novel. I can’t say I enjoyed the book, because the uneasy feeling it left in my mind were not enjoyable, but the book held my attention.
For a work of fiction, A Study in Red left me wondering how anything of fiction could seem so real.
Reviewed by Vivian Zabel
The London of the 1880s differed greatly from the city of today. Poverty and wealth existed side by side, the defining line between the two often marked only by the turning of a corner, from the well-lit suburban streets of the middle-classes and the wealthy, to the seedy, crime and rat infested slums, where poverty, homelessness, desperation and deprivation walked hand in hand with drunkenness, immorality, and crime most foul. In the teeming slums of the city by night the most commonly heard cry in the darkness was thought to be that of ’Murder!’ So inured were the people who lived amongst such squalor and amidst the fever of criminal intimidation that it is said, in time, no-one took any notice of such cries.
It was into this swirling maelstrom of vice and human degradation, London’s East End, that there appeared a malevolent force, a merciless killer who stalked the mean streets by night in search of his prey and gave the great metropolis that was London its first taste of the now increasingly common phenomenon, the serial killer! The streets of Whitechapel were to become the stalking ground of that mysterious and as yet still unidentified slayer known to history as ’Jack the Ripper!’
AN EXTRACT FROM THE JOURNAL
Blood, beautiful, thick, rich, red, venous blood.
Its’ colour fills my eyes, its’ scent assaults my nostrils,
Its’ taste hangs sweetly on my lips.
Last night once more the voices called to me,
And I did venture forth, their bidding, their unholy quest to undertake.
Through mean, gas lit, fog shrouded streets, I wandered in the night, selected, struck, with flashing blade,
And oh, how the blood did run, pouring out upon the street, soaking through the cobbled cracks, spurting, like a fountain of pure red.
Viscera leaking from ripped red gut, my clothes assumed the smell of freshly butchered meat. The squalid, dark, street shadows beckoned, and under leaning darkened eaves, like a wraith I disappeared once more into the cheerless night,
The bloodlust of the voices again fulfilled, for a while...
They will call again, and I once more will prowl the streets upon the night,
The blood will flow like a river once again.
Beware all those who would stand against the call,
I shall not be stopped or taken, no, not I.
Sleep fair city, while you can, while the voices within are still,
I am resting, but my time shall come again. I shall rise in a glorious bloodfest,
I shall taste again the fear as the blade slices sharply through yielding flesh,
when the voices raise the clarion call, and my time shall come again.
So I say again, good citizens, sleep, for there will be a next time...
To my dearest nephew, Jack,
This testament, the journal, and all the papers that accompany it are yours upon my death, as they became mine upon my father’s death. Aunt Sarah, and I were never fortunate enough to have children of our own, so it is with a heavy heart that I write this note to accompany these pages. Had I any alternative, I would spare you the curse of our family’s deepest secret, or perhaps I should say, secrets! Having read what you are about to read, I had neither the courage to destroy it, nor to reveal the secrets contained within these pages. I beg you, as my father begged me, to read the journal and the notes that go with it, and be guided by your conscience and your intelligence in deciding what course of action to take when you have done so. Whatever you decide to do, dear nephew, I beg you, do not judge those who have gone before you too harshly, for the curse of the journal you are about to read is as real as these words I now write to you.
Be safe, Jack, but be warned.
Your loving uncle,