Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday
Flashback Friday

The Lost History

The Lost History
The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

Friday, August 23, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood- Feature and Review


The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honorable Phryne Fisher—she of the gray-green eyes and diamant garters—is tiring of polite conversations with retired colonels and dances with weak-chinned men. When the opportunity presents itself, Phryne decides it might be amusing to try her hand at becoming a lady detective in Australia. Immediately upon settling into Melbourne's Hotel Windsor, Phryne finds herself embroiled in mystery. From poisoned wives and cocaine smuggling, to police corruption and rampant communism—not to mention erotic encounters with the beautiful Russian dancer, Sasha de Lisse—Cocaine Blues charts a crescendo of steamy intrigue, culminating in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.


Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher, #1)Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first in the Phryne Fisher series written by Kerry Greenwood and published by Poisoned Pen.

Phryne is a wealthy heiress with a talent for solving crimes. Bored with polite English society, Phryne heads to Australia to see about a woman that could be a poisoning victim. Phryne plans to stay in Australia and start her own private detective business.

This first case Phryne is chasing after a hack abortionist, a cocaine ring and of course,  trying to find out if her friend's daughter is being poisoned.

Set during the 1920's, the sharp dialogue, excellent descriptions, and a fast moving story with a shocking outcome left me wishing for more.

Phyrne is quite modern, non conformist, witty, sharp and very likeable. The secondary characters are equally charming. This series has been going on for a while, with I think about eighteen books, at this time. But, nearly all of them are under three hundred pages, so it wouldn't take long to catch up, which I intend to do.

Very impressed with this one.






The Phryne Fisher series (pronounced Fry-knee, to rhyme with briny) began in 1989 with Cocaine Blues which was a great success. Kerry has written thirteen books in this series with no sign yet of Miss Fisher hanging up her pearl-handled pistol. Kerry says that as long as people want to read them, she can keep writing them.

Kerry Greenwood has worked as a folk singer, factory hand, director, producer, translator, costume-maker, cook and is currently a solicitor. When she is not writing, she works as a locum solicitor for the Victorian Legal Aid. She is also the unpaid curator of seven thousand books, three cats (Attila, Belladonna and Ashe) and a computer called Apple (which squeaks). She embroiders very well but cannot knit. She has flown planes and leapt out of them (with a parachute) in an attempt to cure her fear of heights (she is now terrified of jumping out of planes but can climb ladders without fear). She can detect second-hand bookshops from blocks away and is often found within them.

For fun Kerry reads science fiction/fantasy and detective stories. She is not married, has no children and lives with a registered wizard. When she is not doing any of the above she stares blankly out of the window.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The History of Lost Dreams by Kris Waldherr- Feature and Review


A post-mortem photographer unearths dark secrets of the past that may hold the key to his future, in this captivating debut novel in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights and The Thirteenth Tale.

All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.

When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh's remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne's last book, The Lost History of Dreams.

However, Ada's grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle's story of Ada and Hugh's ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights.

As the mystery of Ada and Hugh's relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert's own marriage--including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn't--things from beyond the grave.

Kris Waldherr effortlessly spins a sweeping and atmospheric gothic mystery about love and loss that blurs the line between the past and the present, truth and fiction, and ultimately, life and death.



The Lost History of DreamsThe Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr is a 2019 Touchstone Books publication.

A mesmerizing traditional Gothic tale replete with ghosts and a few stunning twists that will keep you turning pages long past your bedtime!

All love stories are ghost stories in disguise

Robert Highstead, a former historian turned post -mortem photographer, is still struggling with the premature death of his wife, Sida. His daguerreotype photos bring comfort to others, and is, in an odd way, a cathartic occupation.

However, when his brother informs him that their cousin, the famed poet Hugh de Bonne has died, he asks Robert to accompany Hugh's remains to his final resting place. Robert never met Hugh in life and is initially reluctant to make the journey. But, because Hugh wished to be laid to rest by his beloved wife, Ada, in a glass chapel he made especially for her, sixteen years prior, he agrees, knowing better than most the desire to be reunited with one’s spouse.

However, the scene he encounters upon arriving on the moors of Shropshire is startling. His presence is not welcomed by Ada's niece, Isabelle, who outright refuses to unlock the chapel. Not only that, he learns the chapel is a gathering place for deeply devoted fans, of Hugh’s last book, “The Lost History of Dreams.”

Isabelle and Robert strike a bargain, eventually. If Robert will record Ada’s story, within five nights, Isabelle will agree to unlock the chapel.

Ada’s life story, as told through Isabelle’s masterful storytelling, keeps Robert entranced to the point of obsession. As the relationship between Isabelle and Robert deepens, the sad story surrounding Sida, and her death gradually unravels, revealing Robert’s guilt and inconsolable grief. His condition is so profound, spirits linger in his orbit, neither of them able to abide the present circumstances, or move beyond them.

Naturally, I really liked this story. It’s right up my alley and I got sucked into it immediately. The story enthralled me and kept me glued to the pages from start to finish. While a bit too ambitious at times, this is a crackling good historical mystery, heavily steeped in old school Gothic traditions.

While the dramatics are toned down a bit, the story is heavy, creepy, and atmospheric. The mystery is absorbing and twisty, which kept me on toes.

But, let’s not forget the love story. It’s unconventional, but pure Gothic joy. However, I also loved the eventual break in the clouds, and all the possibilities and hope the story left me with.

Although I read this story in the peak of summer, the whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking it would be a great fireside novel fitting for long, dark winter nights. But no matter when you decide to read it, if you like Gothic historical fiction, you don’t want to pass this one up.






Kris Waldherr's books for adults and children include Bad Princess, Doomed Queens, and The Book of Goddesses. The New Yorker praised Doomed Queens as "utterly satisfying" and "deliciously perverse." The Book of Goddesses was a One Spirit/Book-of-the-Month Club's Top Ten Most Popular Book. Her picture book Persephone and the Pomegranate was noted by the New York Times Book Review for its "quality of myth and magic." Her fiction has won fellowships from the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts, and a works-in-progress reading grant from Poets & Writers.

As a visual artist, Waldherr is the creator of the Goddess Tarot, which has a quarter of a million copies in print. She has had illustrations published as greeting cards, book covers, and in calendars and magazines. Her art has been exhibited in many galleries and museums including the Ruskin Library, the Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Kris Waldherr's upcoming books include her debut novel The Lost History of Dreams (Atria Books, 2019). She works and lives in Brooklyn in a Victorian-era house with her husband, their young daughter, and a very vocal Bengal cat.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows By Balli Kaur Jaswal - Feature and Review



A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.

Every woman has a secret life . . .

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.



Erotic Stories for Punjabi WidowsErotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal is a 2017 William Morrow publication.

A bold, unforgettable story!

No, the title is not misleading. This book does contain erotic stories. But, trust me, this story has much more depth and importance than the title might suggest.

Nikki lives in London, is a modern girl, rebelling against her traditional Punjabi upbringing, which brings sorrow to her family who had such high hopes for her. However, until she finds her true calling, she is living above a pub and tending bar.

On the other hand, Nikki’s sister, Mindi, has decided to take a more traditional path, looking for a marriage arrangement instead of waiting to fall in love. Nikki vehemently dislikes her sister’s choice but agrees to pin Mindi’s profile up on the Temple’s board.

Here she notices a want ad searching for a writing teacher. Nikki applies and is hired to teach a creative writing course. However, she quickly discovers her class is full of widows who are mostly illiterate. Before they can write stories, they must learn to spell and write the alphabet, starting from scratch. Nikki is irritated because she felt misled. But, before she can make headway with her pupils, the widows take over the class by verbally telling erotic stories, as opposed to writing them.

However, the nature of the class must be kept a closely guarded secret. If Kulwinder Kaur, the dour community director, or worse, ‘The Brothers’, a group of bullies enforcing morality, finds out, they will all suffer dire consequences.

As time passes, and Nikki forges a warm bond with her students, she also begins dating someone. However, her new love interest seems to have a few conflicts of interest he isn’t keen on sharing with Nikki. Meanwhile, Nikki has discovered Kulwinder Kaur lost her daughter, Maya, piquing her curiosity. But, by dredging up the details of Maya’s death, Nikki could meet the same fate…

I loved this story!! It is mysterious, with a sinister undertone, but primarily it is charming, funny, and romantic, plus it blends cultures, diversity and generations with a nice feminist slant.

There is a large cast of characters, along with several threads to follow. However, on this one rare occasion, I had absolutely no problem keeping up with who was who. The threads are super easy to follow and so unique, there was no way to get them confused.

The story blazes through conventions with rousing and inspirational aplomb and had me standing at the finishing line cheering on all the characters as they crossed over into the land of happy endings.

I wish I had been able to fit this book into my reading schedule long before now.

It would be easy to presume this book would mostly appeal to the ladies, but I recommend this book to everyone - well, everyone over the age of eighteen, that is.






Balli Kaur Jaswal's latest novel is The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters (Harper Collins/William Morrow). Her previous novels include Inheritance, which won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelist Award, and Sugarbread, a finalist for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize and the Singapore Literature Prize. Her third novel Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows was translated into 15 languages and chosen by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine book club.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Proof of Life- by J. A. Jance- Feature and Review

                                                              ABOUT THE BOOK:

Be careful what you wish for . . . 

Before he retired, J. P. Beaumont had looked forward to having his days all to himself. But too much free time doesn’t suit a man used to brushing close to danger. When his longtime nemesis, retired Seattle crime reporter Maxwell Cole, dies in what’s officially deemed to be an accidental fire, Beau is astonished to be dragged into the investigation at the request of none other than the deceased victim himself. In the process Beau learns that just because a long ago case was solved doesn’t mean it’s over.

Caught up in a situation where old actions and grudges can hold dangerous consequences in the present, Beau is forced to operate outside the familiar world of law enforcement. While seeking justice for his frenemy and healing for a long fractured family, he comes face to face with an implacable enemy who has spent decades hiding in plain sight.



Proof of Life (J.P. Beaumont, #23)Proof of Life by J.A. Jance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Proof of Life by J.A. Jance is a 2017 William Morrow publication.
I’ve touched base with Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds recently, but not J.P. Beaumont- my favorite J.A Jance series- in a long while.

So, what has Beau been up to lately?

Of course, at his age, he is retired, he’s still happily married, living in Seattle, but he’s bored and mildly depressed. Meanwhile, his very busy wife is caught up in the politics surrounding an officer involved shooting during a domestic violence call. The family at the center of the case is taken to a safe place, but their dog is left without a place to go.

So, much to his surprise, Beaumont becomes a first- time dog owner, at least temporarily. This should lift his spirits and give him something to occupy his time, but when he runs into an old nemesis, who later turns up dead after his house catches on fire, Beaumont gets sucked into the investigation when the death becomes a suspicious one.

Suddenly, Beaumont is back in his element, his depression all but forgotten…

Beaumont is quite a character, but in this 23rd chapter in the series, he is sublime. Be aware that Beau is very much a product of his time. Not everything he says lines up with our current politically correct guidelines. He still thinks men should do all the yard work, for example, and doesn’t understand why a teacher wouldn’t want a police officer to bring a gun into her elementary school classroom while he speaks to her students. But, mostly he’s a sweet guy who has mellowed nicely in his twilight years.

His interactions with his newly acquired dog are priceless and his tender approach to a delicate family situation gave me the warm and fuzzies- not something I thought I’d ever say about J. P. Beaumont.

But, of course, the reason we tune in is to solve a mystery and this one is a doozy. An old murder case connected to the death of Beaumont’s old acquaintance is woven into the current investigation, which is complex, but compelling. It was a real guessing game right to the end, and I never could have figured out how things would turn out.

I am very satisfied with this latest chapter in the series and am happy to see our favorite detective back in the saddle again!!






Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont is drawn into an intriguing, and shockingly personal, case in this superb tale of suspense from New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance.

Former Seattle homicide cop, J. P. Beaumont, is learning to enjoy the new realities of retirementdoing morning crossword puzzles by a roaring fireplace; playing frisbee with his new dog; having quiet lunches with his still working wife.But then his pastcomes calling.

When a long ago acquaintance, Alan Dale, shows up on Beaus doorstep with a newborn infant in hand and asking for help locating his missing daughter, Beau finds himself faced with an investigation that will turn his own life upside down by dragging hisnone-too-stellar past onto a roller-coaster ride that may well derail his serene present.It turns out that, even in retirement. murder is still the name of J. P. Beaumonts game.




J.A. Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series; the J. P. Beaumont series; three interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family; and Edge of Evil, the first in a series featuring Ali Reynolds. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

Monday, August 19, 2019

MONDAY'S MUSICAL MOMENT: Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughn by Alan Paul and Andy Aledort- Feature and Review

                                                              ABOUT THE BOOK:

The first definitive biography of guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, with an epilogue by Jimmie Vaughan, and foreword and afterword by Double Trouble’s Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon.

Just a few years after he almost died from a severe addiction to cocaine and alcohol, a clean and sober Stevie Ray Vaughan was riding high. His last album was his most critically lauded and commercially successful. He had fulfilled a lifelong dream by collaborating with his first and greatest musical hero, his brother Jimmie. His tumultuous marriage was over and he was in a new and healthy romantic relationship. Vaughan seemed poised for a new, limitless chapter of his life and career.

Instead, it all came to a shocking and sudden end on August 27, 1990, when he was killed in a helicopter crash following a dynamic performance with Eric Clapton. Just 35 years old, he left behind a powerful musical legacy and an endless stream of What Ifs. In the ensuing 29 years, Vaughan’s legend and acclaim have only grown and he is now an undisputed international musical icon. Despite the cinematic scope of Vaughan’s life and death, there has never been a truly proper accounting of his story. Until now.

Texas Flood provides the unadulterated truth about Stevie Ray Vaughan from those who knew him best: his brother Jimmie, his Double Trouble bandmates Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton and Reese Wynans, and many other close friends, family members, girlfriends, fellow musicians, managers and crew members.



Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan

Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan by Alan Paul
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughn by Alan Paul is a 2019 St. Martin’s Press publication.

This book made me feel like I’d been invited to a memorial service for Stevie, with everyone who knew and loved him, either personally or professionally gathered around sharing intimate memories of Stevie’s life from their own unique perspective.

I remember when Stevie died, perhaps more vividly than I might have because of a death in my own family just days before. Despite my personal grief, I was still in utter shock and disbelief. Yet, it would be years down the road before I was able to truly absorb the magnitude of his loss and the incredible void he left in the world of music.

This book is not written in the traditional biographical format. The presentation is unique, a compilation of interviews, reflections, and recollections.

I loved it!! Memories are so subjective. Sometimes people remembered events differently or had differences of opinion.

That gave the book a realistic quality and made me feel as though nothing was being glossed over or sugarcoated or left out, because at the end of the day we all experience events in different ways. Anything too pat, might be circumspect. This material came straight from the mouths of the participants. Their words were pure, unedited with no way to put a spin on it.

I think it is the unique layout of the book that gives it such a personal and emotional atmosphere. I admired the way the author assembled the information, letting those who were there, tell the story chronologically. Using this unconventional approach took some extreme organizational skills, and the author pulled it off quite nicely.

Over the years, the little details of Stevie’s life have slipped from my consciousness. This book brought back a few memories for me, not just musically, but geographically, since Stevie was a home- grown talent. There are so many talented blues artists, so many guitar heroes out there, but no one could touch Stevie Ray Vaughn. The guy was electrifying. It wasn’t just his skill- There was an aura around him, a presence, that spilled over his live performances casting a spell over his awed audience.

I miss Stevie a lot. I often wonder just how far he would have traveled musically and personally, as well. His life was clicking into place, coming together on all fronts. He was blazing hot with nowhere else to go but up. His death was a tragedy of epic proportions, only made worse by the knowledge that it was preventable. Hearing the various artists reflect on that fateful decision reiterates the senselessness of it, only compounding the loss even more.

In some ways, though, this book was cathartic for me. I never really got to grieve this loss has I have other artists who left an indelible mark on me. I enjoyed hearing these heartfelt, humorous, honest, harrowing, poignant, and inspirational stories about Stevie, learning a few details about his career I didn’t know, or had forgotten about over time. But mostly this book was a reminder of what a great talent Stevie was and how grateful I am for the influence he had on me and my great love affair with pure blues.

The sky is still crying….






Alan Paul is the author of the Top Ten New York Times Bestseller One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band. 
Paul is a senior writer for Guitar World and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal. He wrote "The Expat Life" column for the Wall Street Journal Online from 2005- 2009. The National Society of Newspaper Columnists named him 2008 Online Columnist of the Year. He also reported from Beijing for NBC, Sports Illustrated, the WSJ, and other media outlets. 

Over the last 10 years, Andy Aledort has sold over one million instructional DVDs, and continues to produce new DVD products for Guitar World and Turefire. Andy performs regularly in the tri-state area with his band, the Groove Kings, and are looking to expand their touring parameters. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White- Feature and Review


Twelve years ago, Sarah Baker was abducted by the Watt Lake Killer and sexually assaulted for months before managing to escape. The killer was caught, but Sarah lost everything: her marriage, her child, and the life she loved.
Struggling with PTSD, Sarah changes her name to Olivia West and finds sanctuary working on Broken Bar Ranch. But as her scars finally begin to heal, a cop involved with her horrific case remains convinced the Watt Lake Killer is still out there. He sets a lure for the murderer, and a fresh body is discovered. Now Olivia must face the impossible—could the butcher be back, this time to finish the job?
As a frigid winter isolates the ranch, only one person can help Olivia: Cole McDonough, a writer, adventurer, and ranch heir who stirs long-dormant feelings in her. But this time, Olivia’s determination to shut out her past may destroy more than her chance at love. It could cost her her life.



A Dark Lure (A Dark Lure, #1)A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White is a 2015 Montlake publication.

I won a copy of ‘The Dark Bones’, the second book in this series, so I thought it might be a good idea to back track and read this first book in the series, although I see there has been a rather large time gap between installments.

All the same, I’m glad I discovered this author!

Sarah Baker was the lone survivor of the Watt Lake Killer. Twelve years later, after losing everything she held dear and still battling PTSD, Sarah changed her name to Olivia, and found a modicum of solace working at the Broken Bar Ranch.

However, the ranch owner is dying, leaving Olivia's future and that of the ranch, in limbo.

Believing she is making the right decision, Olivia contacts Cole McDonough, one the ranch heirs, to inform him of his father’s ill health. Although Cole hasn’t spoken to his father in years, he flies home knowing there won’t be a fatted calf awaiting his return.

Meanwhile, a former cop who worked the Watt Lake case is convinced the wrong man was sent to prison and is desperately hoping to solve the case before it’s too late.

While this is a very graphic and tense thriller, the story has plenty of depth, especially when it comes to family dynamics, with a nice romantic element, as well. There are several different threads running at once, but at no time did the story feel too busy.

The relationship with Cole and his father, along with the greedy ploys to control the ranch adds drama, the relationship between the cop and his daughter, Tori, is poignant and very bittersweet, and the romance between Cole and Olivia is well-done and realistic.

However, Olivia is being stalked by someone, hinting that the Watt Lake Killer is still out there. The suspense builds at an unbearable pace, and the atmosphere becomes taut and riveting as the final showdown brings us face to face with a clever and diabolical serial killer and all the pending threads are woven together seamlessly.

This genre has really suffered a downward slide in recent years and I usually wind up feeling very frustrated by it. It is so nice to find an author who understands the genre, and knows how to write romantic suspense the way it should be written.

Now I’m really looking forward to reading the second installment!!






Loreth Anne White is an internationally bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. A three-time RITA finalist, she is also the Overall 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award winner, and she has won the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, the National Readers' Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall, in addition to being a Booksellers' Best finalist, and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers' Choice Award winner.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

TRUE CRIME THURSDAY- The Five:The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold- Feature and Review


Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London—the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that "the Ripper" preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time—but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.



The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the RipperThe Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold is a 2019 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publication.

"She had been brought into the world along the Street of Ink, and it is to there, riding on the column inches, its illuminated plates, its rumor and scandal, that she would return: a name in print.”

The canonical five Ripper victims:

Mary Ann -Polly- Nichols

Annie Chapman

Elizabeth Stride

Catherine- Kate- Eddowes

Mary Jane Kelly

Ask your friends, relatives, or colleagues what they know about the five women Jack the Ripper murdered and nearly all of them will say ‘they were prostitutes’. However, with one notable exception, there is no concrete proof the other four victims ever identified themselves as such or worked in the sex trade.

What we are reminded of here, is that these women were mothers, sisters, lovers and wives. They had hard lives, bad luck, and little choice or opportunity to change their circumstances. Their lives have been reduced to little consequence, partly because the sensationalism surrounding the Jack the Ripper legend, and tons of unsubstantiated information- but most of all because they were thought of as ‘just prostitutes’.

It has taken us a little over a century to finally restore humanity to these women, to examine the mindset that promoted their sexualisation, and diminished the compassion and respect due them.

The author did a lot of deep digging and research to give the reader an in -depth profile of each of these five women. The laws of the day were stacked against them because they were women, their options were few, forcing them into the streets. They worked legitimate jobs, but society judged their lifestyles, slapping upon them the undeserved label of a ‘fallen woman’.

Many of the historical details are mind numbing. It’s an overwhelming, depressing, and bleak portrait the author paints, proving it wasn’t the sex trade that made these women targets, but their vulnerability brought on by poverty, addiction, and abuse.

The author astutely and determinedly takes us to task for all the ways society had devalued human life. Judgments have been passed based on second -hand information, conveyed by so called reputable sources which eventually became cemented into the lore of Jack the Ripper, and shoving these women so far into the background, they have been cast off like so much rubbish.

The books, movies, documentaries all geared towards discovering the identity of the elusive serial killer, raises him into a cult celebrity status. It is appalling that souvenirs are sold bearing the silhouetted image of a savage murderer!!

Yet, we can’t take the time to mourn the victims, much less remember them as individual human beings. They get lost in the grisly gore, as incorrect information continues to be passed off as the unmitigated truth.

This is an eye-opening book, and a humbling experience. I came away feeling duly discomfited and chastened. While I never viewed these women as ‘just prostitutes’, I never stopped to consider if the information about them was true or not.

That is another reason why this book is long, long, long overdue!! I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is an important book, debunking long presumed facts, but also, at long last, it helps to restore dignity to these women.

It is an educational book, depicting real history. This book is not about Jack the Ripper, and his crimes are not detailed in this book, appropriately so, and there are no theories tossed about as to his identity. I think we've had enough of those types of books already.

If you’ve labored under the illusion that these women were ‘just prostitutes’, this book will pull the wool from your eyes and give you a fresh perspective on the past, one you may not have considered before now.

A must read!





Hallie Rubenhold is a bestselling author, social historian, broadcaster and historical consultant for TV and film.
Hallie received her B.A. in History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an M.A. in British History and History of Art from the University of Leeds. Remaining at Leeds, she embarked on her studies for a PhD and later completed her thesis on the subject of marriage and child-rearing in the eighteenth century.
Her most recent book, The Five: The Untold LIves of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, is the first full length biography of the Ripper’s victims. Disregarded by society for over 130 years, The Five pieces together their individual stories and overturns much of the mythology surrounding their lives, including the belief that all of the women were involved in ‘prostitution’. The book became a Sunday Times Bestseller and has been optioned as a drama series by Mainstreet Pictures.