A Knife In The Fog: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness And Arthur Conan Doyle by Bradley HarperA Knife In The Fog: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness And Arthur Conan Doyle by Bradley Harper

A Knife In The Fog: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness And Arthur Conan Doyle

byBradley Harper

Paperback | October 2, 2018

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Physician Arthur Conan Doyle takes a break from his practice to assist London police in tracking down Jack the Ripper in this debut novel and series starter. September 1888. A twenty-nine-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle practices medicine by day and writes at night. His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, although gaining critical and popular success, has only netted him twenty-five pounds. Embittered by the experience, he vows never to write another "crime story." Then a messenger arrives with a mysterious summons from former Prime Minister William Gladstone, asking him to come to London immediately. Once there, he is offered one month's employment to assist the Metropolitan Police as a "consultant" in their hunt for the serial killer soon to be known as Jack the Ripper. Doyle agrees on the stipulation his old professor of surgery, Professor Joseph Bell--Doyle's inspiration for Sherlock Holmes--agrees to work with him. Bell agrees, and soon the two are joined by Miss Margaret Harkness, an author residing in the East End who knows how to use a Derringer and serves as their guide and companion. Pursuing leads through the dank alleys and courtyards of Whitechapel, they come upon the body of a savagely murdered fifth victim. Soon it becomes clear that the hunters have become the hunted when a knife-wielding figure approaches.
Bradley Harper is a retired US Army Colonel and pathologist who has performed over two-hundred autopsies and some twenty forensic investigations. A life-long fan of Sherlock Holmes, he did intensive research for this debut novel, A Knife in the Fog, including a trip to London's East End with noted Jack the Ripper historian Richard Jone...
Title:A Knife In The Fog: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness And Arthur Conan DoyleFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:288 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.7 inShipping dimensions:8.25 × 5.5 × 0.7 inPublished:October 2, 2018Publisher:SEVENTH STREET BOOKSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1633884864

ISBN - 13:9781633884861

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Read from the Book

CHAPTER ONE THE COURIER   Thursday, September 20, 1888   It began in September of 1888, the month hastening into autumn. I was closing my clinic in Portsmouth for the day when a stranger arrived without an appointment. I asked the nature of his ailment, and he surprised me by responding that he was not there for a medical consultation but was serving as a messenger, handing me his card, which identified him as Sergeant Major (Retired) Henry Chambers, courier.   His erect carriage and regulation grooming were in character with his previous occupation and rank, as were his clothes, which were well-made but unobtrusive. When I requested the nature of his message, he handed over a thick envelope addressed to me.   Within I found a ten-pound note and a letter written on thick bond paper bearing the letterhead of former prime minister William Gladstone.  Dear Doctor Doyle,Please consider this letter an offer of employment for a period of up to one month as a consultant. The nature of the task I request of you is best discussed in person. As a gesture of good faith, I have enclosed a ten-pound payment that would be yours for traveling to London to hear my proposal. Should you decline my offer, the payment would be yours to keep. If accepted, it would be deducted from future reimbursements.The courier has no knowledge of the matter but merely requires your response. If you accept, he will telegraph my office with the date and time of your arrival and I will ensure a member of my staff is there to meet you. I strongly urge you to accept my invitation, sir, as many lives may lie upon its balance. Respectfully, William Gladstone   I could not explain how Mr. Gladstone should know of me, or why he would seek me out. I considered myself a capable general practitioner, but gamely admitted there was an abundance of physicians at least as competent as—and certainly more experienced than—myself readily available throughout London. While I was hardly destitute, the promised sum of ten pounds for a journey I could easily make and return from in a single day was enticing. As my wife, Louise, was pregnant with our first child, the funds would be welcome.   After a moment’s reflection I agreed, perhaps as much influenced by my curiosity as the ten-pound note, which exceeded a fortnight’s income at the time. Besides, a brief holiday from the daily labors of managing my practice would be invigorating.   The courier had a copy of the train schedule, so I selected the train arriving at Waterloo Station at one o’clock in two days. I informed him I would be wearing an oiled canvas coat over a checked vest so that I could be easily identified upon arrival.   I notified Louise of my impending absence, posted a sign announcing the closure of the clinic in two days’ time, and arranged for colleagues to see my patients during my absence. Had I known at the time the nature of the request, I cannot say to this day if I would have accepted the invitation. Though my purse would profit significantly, many of my preconceptions regarding humanity and society (humanity writ large), would be lost. What else I may have gained I leave to you, Dear Reader, to conclude at the end of my tale.   I arrived at Waterloo Station punctually at one o’clock, relieved that someone would be meeting me, as at the time I was only vaguely familiar with London. Indeed, for many years I kept a simple post-office map of the city posted above my desk as a reference when writing my Holmes stories. I carried it with me now, and it would become well-worn over the next six weeks.   I noted a pale, well-dressed gentleman of slightly less than average height and in his early twenties who was plainly searching for someone among the disembarking passengers. I opened my overcoat to display my checked vest, and his face brightened when he noticed me.   “Doctor Doyle?” he enquired, with a vague continental accent.   “Indeed,” I replied, extending my hand. “Can you tell me what this is all about?”   “I see you are a straightforward man, sir,” he responded, grasping my hand a tad over-enthusiastically. “Mr. Gladstone has empowered me to act as his agent in this matter. My name, sir, is Wilkins. Jonathan Wilkins. I am Mr. Gladstone’s personal secretary.”   “So, Mr. Gladstone is not the patient?” I asked, puzzled by his use of the word “agent.”   “I apologize for the vagueness of our correspondence, Doctor Doyle, but it is not in a medical capacity that Mr. Gladstone seeks your assistance.”   “Then why in heaven’s name am I here?” I asked, irritated by the vagueness of his reply.   Mr. Wilkins looked about, then hoarsely whispered in my ear, “Murder, Doctor Doyle. Or rather, murders . . . the Whitechapel homicides.” Then in a normal tone he added, “But I request we delay further discussion until we reach Mr. Gladstone’s club, where you shall find the lodgings most agreeable and paid in full.”   I walked along in a daze as Mr. Wilkins took my bag and guided me to a waiting hansom. While Portsmouth is not the heart of the British Empire, our local papers had related the grisly doings of the madman at the time called “Leather Apron.” It had not occurred to me that I should be asked to assume the role of my fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, as a consulting detective. I resolved to hear Mr. Wilkins out, politely decline, and return home on the next available train. For ten pounds I could certainly give him an audience of a few minutes.   We passed the journey to the club in silence, for which I was grateful, as I was busy mentally composing my eloquent refusal of Wilkins’s pending request.   The Marlborough Club was indeed quite comfortable, conveniently located at No. 52 Pall Mall and aptly fulfilling its stated goal of being “a convenient and agreeable place of meeting for a society of gentlemen.” Its members consisted primarily of affluent barristers and members of the Stock Exchange. My traveling clothes, when contrasted with their well-tailored suits, seemed shabby. I insisted Wilkins state his proposal before I unpacked, should that prove unnecessary. He escorted me to the reading room, then poured us each a glass of water from a crystal decanter before beginning.   “Very well,” said Wilkins. “I could tell by your reaction that you know of the gruesome murders that have occurred within Whitechapel this past month. Three women, Martha Tabram on August the seventh, Mary Ann Nichols on the thirty-first, and a fortnight ago Annie Chapman on September the eighth. All three slain within yards of residents asleep in their beds.”   Mr. Wilkins shivered slightly and sipped from his glass before continuing.   “Mr. Gladstone has always been charitable to the community of fallen women in Whitechapel, and a delegation of these ladies approached him with a request for his assistance to end this reign of terror.”   “How does this involve me?” I asked, hoping to bring him to the point.   “I read with great interest your story A Study in Scarlet published this past December,” he continued, not to be deterred. “The use of scientific methods of analysis to deduce the murderer seemed quite sound to me, so I convinced Mr. Gladstone to summon you to serve as our own consulting detective. Your task would be to review the work of the police and propose avenues of investigation they have overlooked.”   He took a deep breath and, before giving me a chance to respond, concluded his apparently well-rehearsed offer. “The pay is three pounds per day, lodgings provided here in the club, and any reasonable expenses reimbursed. Do you accept this commission, Doctor Doyle? It grants you an opportunity to test your theories as to the role science could play in combatting crime. The pay is not unsubstantial, and the experience may well guide you in future stories. What say you, sir?”   I sat there stunned, overwhelmed by the scope of the task laid at my feet. I have always seen myself as a champion of justice, but I did not wish to assume a competence beyond my abilities. Were I to fail, as was most likely, my reputation would suffer and my clumsy efforts might impede the work of others more capable than myself. I saw no reason to accept this strange commission, and several to refuse.   “I am sorry, Mr. Wilkins. Your cause is just, but I am not Sherlock Holmes,” I replied. “He is a fictional character, with knowledge and skills I do not possess. My inspiration for this person is my old professor of surgery, Joseph Bell. Although I carefully studied his techniques, I lack his keen intellect and ability to deduce the great from the small. I recommend you contact him, though I doubt he will leave his practice in Edinburgh for such a quixotic quest.”   Mr. Wilkins leaned back in the comfortable leather chair and pondered my words with a worried frown on his face. I confidently awaited my dismissal, when his reply caught me off guard.   “Very well, sir. Knowing how keen Mr. Gladstone is to resolve this matter, I extend the same offer to Professor Bell. Please understand, I am offering this to the both of you as a team. Professor Bell may have the deductive skills, but you are his voice. I will only accept the professor if you agree to work alongside him. Having a colleague to discuss his findings may make a team that is stronger than the sum of its parts. Is that agreeable?”   I recall my thoughts quite clearly at that moment: Surely Professor Bell would never agree to this; thus, I would be excused from taking it on myself, allowing me to walk away ten pounds richer without angering a powerful man. I had to suppress a smile while congratulating myself on my clever escape.   “Agreed,” I said with false heartiness. “I shall telegram Professor Bell at once. As today is Saturday, I do not expect a response before tomorrow, or perhaps not until Monday. The lodgings are quite acceptable; I assume the daily stipend begins now?”   “It does,” replied Wilkins.   “Then I have a telegram to compose and bags to unpack. How shall I contact you when I receive the professor’s answer?”   “The doorman of the club has three street Arabs he uses as couriers; he will ensure any messages for me are sent straight away. Mr. Gladstone prefers not to meet with you until this matter is concluded. Please understand, his enemies have already made far too much of his Christian charity toward these women over the years, and he does not desire to detract from the current investigation by drawing attention to you.”   “Very well then,” I replied. “Expect my message within the next forty-eight hours.”   Wilkins departed, and I applied myself to the wording of my telegram to Bell. I finally settled on the following:   GREETINGS FROM LONDON STOP IMMEDIATE CONSULTING OPPORTUNITY THREE POUNDS PER DAY STOP UNABLE TO DISCLOSE DETAILS HERE BUT OPPORTUNITY TO SAVE SEVERAL LIVES AND SERVE JUSTICE STOP REPLY SOONEST WITH RESPONSE AND ARRIVAL TIME AND PLACE IF AGREED STOP DOYLE   I felt as though I had been sufficiently faithful toward my potential new employer, and with a clear conscience I spent the remainder of the day walking through London’s buffet of sights and sounds. Although in later years I found the great metropolis wearisome, on that day I agreed with Doctor Samuel Johnson that when a man is tired of London he is tired of life. Thus it was with a light heart that I returned to the club in time for dinner, to be stopped at the door with a reply from Bell:   INTRIGUED STOP MUST WIND DOWN MATTERS HERE STOP ARRIVING MONDAY THREE O’CLOCK KINGS CROSS STATION STOP BELL   I read this several times, brief as it was. No matter how I analyzed it, there was only one possible explanation: Bell was coming. I was in for it now!   I reluctantly sent a message to Wilkins that Bell had agreed, ate a dinner I do not recall in the slightest, and went to my room. Shortly before retiring I received Wilkins’s reply:   Excellent! Will meet with you for breakfast at eight tomorrow to help you begin your investigation. J Wilkins.   I feared I would have little appetite for whatever breakfast had to offer, and I spent a restless night pondering how fate and a single flight of fiction had led me to this moment.

Editorial Reviews

“Arthur Conan Doyle chasing after Jack the Ripper? Bradley Harper makes this irresistible pairing come alive. Ingenious in its premise and plotting, impressive in its unique forensic precision, infectious in its overflowing passion for the subject matter, A Knife in the Fog will be relished by fans of historical fiction, Sherlock Holmes, and Ripper literature. A debut novel worth falling for.”  —Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Chamber“[A] richly detailed, intense debut…. The intricately plotted story is worthy of Conan Doyle himself, with language and characters reminiscent of the Holmes canon and foreshadowing of the author's future work. This compelling debut will have wide appeal, attracting readers of Jack the Ripper fiction, Sherlock Homes fans, and anyone who appreciates real-life people as sleuths.”  —Library Journal DEBUT OF THE MONTH, STARRED REVIEW “Like all great mystery novels, Bradley Harper’s take on the Ripper case delivers suspense, action, and an utterly unexpected reveal. But Harper’s work stands apart, both for its nuanced, sympathetic portraits of the victims and for its informed medical and forensic detail—the latter gleaned from the author’s career as a pathologist. Harper has crafted a deftly paced, expertly plotted work that transcends genre and speaks to the heart of every reader, mystery buff or not.”   —Mary Roach, bestselling author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers“Entertaining and meticulously researched, A Knife in the Fog brings to vibrant life a gathering of historical figures—Arthur Conan Doyle, Joseph Bell, and Jack the Ripper—that will fascinate readers of both historical fiction and Sherlock Holmes. The dark streets of London’s East End have never felt more real or more dangerous.”   —Gordon McAlpine, author of Holmes Entangled and Woman with a Blue Pencil“Ardent feminism and cerebral detection face down the Ripper in the fog-shrouded streets of London: a feast for lovers of historical crime!”   —Laurie R. King, author of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and Island of the Mad“Yards above the usual pastiche, told in flowing language that could almost be sung…. Holmes' fans will appreciate the glimpses, amid the action and the examination of social mores, of the elements that formed their hero.”—Booklist"A superbly imagined story of how the creator of Sherlock Holmes solves the notorious Jack the Ripper murders. Not only does Harper skillfully immerse the reader in the squalid conditions of the London slums of the 1880s, he does so convincingly and engagingly in the authentic voice of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In addition, Harper introduces us to the man who actually inspired the creation of the Holmes character beloved by millions, Doyle’s mentor, Dr. Joseph Bell. But the real treat is the touching relationship that develops between Doyle and Margaret Harkness, a writer and feminist who rocks Doyle’s chauvinistic world. Oh, and Mark Twain makes a cameo appearance, too! I love this story!”   —John DeDakis, author of Bullet in the Chamber, writing coach, and former senior copy editor for CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”“Arthur Conan Doyle is on the case of the infamous Whitechapel murders of 1888, and Bradley Harper shows what fans have long suspected: that Doyle would have been as brilliant a detective as Sherlock Holmes, his greatest creation. What a ripping good yarn!”  —Stefan Dziemianowicz, editor of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes“Delightful chemistry, plummy prose, and believable period detail lift Harper’s debut above the throng of forgettable Baker Street imitators.”—Kirkus Reviews