cover image A Deadly Deception

A Deadly Deception

Tessa Harris. Kensington, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-0660-7

Eight months after Jack the Ripper’s last killing in 1888, Alice Mackenzie is found dead of wounds similar but not identical to those of his victims, in Harris’s muddled third mystery featuring flower seller Constance Piper (after 2018’s The Angel Makers). London police detective Thaddeus Hawkins investigates the possibility that at least one supposed Ripper murder, that of Mary Jane Kelly, is the work of Irish nationalists. Constance, who was friends with both Mackenzie and Kelly, discovers that each of them had Irish connections and that Kelly had foreknowledge of her peril. The more Hawkins and Constance learn, the more certain they become that they’re facing not a single deranged killer but a conspiracy that encompasses the country’s elite. Heavily reliant on events that occur before the book opens, the plot requires copious backstory and a glut of secondary characters. Harris unfortunately focuses on overcomplicated logistics, giving some of the series’ most appealing elements—including the dynamics between Constance and Hawkins—short shrift. This is a lesser entry in the large field of Ripper-related mysteries. [em]Agent: Melissa Jeglinski, Knight Agency. (Sept.) [/em]