Anthony O'Neill, Author . Scribner $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4349-0

Australian novelist O'Neill (Scheherazade) tips his hat to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with his own spellbinding tale of a soul divided. Set in the late 19th century in Robert Louis Stevenson's native Edinburgh, the novel follows Evelyn Todd, an excitable young woman whose arrival in the city coincides with a wave of savage murders. Bloody corpses turn up on the main thoroughfares, with ominous messages left near the remains. The city's expert sleuth is away in London, and the aging Insp. Carus Groves finally has an opportunity to step up his unremarkable career, if only he could figure out how to conduct a homicide investigation. The real sleuthing is done by Thomas McKnight and his young friend Joseph Canavan. They're not detectives by trade, but having recently lost their jobs as logic professor and cemetery watchman, respectively, they have the time and wits to pursue the killer. All paths lead to the seemingly respectable Evelyn, who works for a bookbinder. She has been suffering from nightmares in which she has precise visions of the murders as they unfold. Just what is her relationship to the slayings? The gripping climax reveals devastating events from Evelyn's childhood, beginning when she is plucked from an orphanage by a swindler claiming to be her father. O'Neill is a masterful storyteller with a thorough knowledge of both the urban life and the literary tropes of late 19th-century Britain and has created characters embodying the questions about good and evil, faith and fanaticism that preoccupied Stevenson's contemporaries. But readers won't pause too long to admire his erudition—the thrilling story will have them turning pages compulsively. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/10/2003
Release date: 02/01/2003
Mass Market Paperbound - 422 pages - 978-0-7434-6427-7
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-7432-5429-8
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-1-4165-7532-0
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