The Ripper's Apprentice

Donald Serrell Thomas, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (245p) ISBN 978-0-312-03420-7
In Jekyll, Alias Hyde, Thomas's invented Inspector Swain failed to enhance Stevenson's classic. Swain's appearance here also disappoints. The truth in this tale about a poisoner who roamed London's Lambeth area in 1891-92, giving ``medicine'' to prostitutes and dooming them to slow, agonizing deaths, is more interesting than the fiction. Based on well-researched historic records, Thomas's version of the madman hoping to rival Jack the Ripper is, unfortunately, flawed by its very accuracy. The information identifies him early on, leaving few surprises for the reader. Also distracting are pages sagging with linguistic excesses, describing the progress of Swain's romance with his landlady's daughter as she grows from a child to a nubile teenager. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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