Jackaby

It’s like BBC’s Sherlock crossed with Matt Smith’s Doctor Who! You’re going to love this!

Goodreads thinks it knows me so well….

Jackaby follows Abagail Rook as she arrives in the New World and becomes employed by R.F. Jackaby an investigator of the paranormal. Like John Watson is to Sherlock Holmes, Abigail is our perspective character tho R.F. Jackaby.

Miss Rook never offers on straight description of Jackaby, the closest that I was able to come across in the novel was the description of his colourful attire:

“I looked at the mismatched detective and digested the turn the conversation had taken. His ridiculous hat fought a colour battle with his long scarf. The coat that hung from his lanky frame looked expensive, but it was worn, its pockets overstuffed and straining. Their contents jingled faintly as he walked. It was one thing to be turned away by a stuffy suit in an ascot and top hat, but this was another matter entirely.” pg 20

There has been this surge of Sherlock Holmes-esque, smartest person in the room narratives in the last few years. With shows like The MentalistElementarySherlock and films like Ironman and Sherlock Holmes (both Robery Downey Jr. vehicles, interesting) the loveable douchebag has cemented himself into the hearts of the masses. It was only a matter of time before he trickled down into the teen section. Jackaby comes across as Cumberbatch Sherlock Holmes Lite. Unlike his screen counterpart he’s not an asshole. Instead as mentioned before he’s been tempered with Matt Smith’s Doctor. So instead of a lot of this:

You get some of this instead:

Jackaby comes across as distracted, spending a lot of time lost in thought and living in his own head. He generally cares for the people under his employ, and does worry about them. He had all the brains of BBC Sherlock, but manages to stay compassionate. In other words he’s safe for you to crush on.

Miss Rook is an okay character. She’s introduced to the reader as being driven. She wanted to be an archaeologist and work on dig sites like her father. When the Victorian society’s restrictions refused to let her follow her dreams she ran off to make them happen. It turns out they weren’t everything she thought they could be. She’s found herself in the new world, low on cash and desperate for a job. She makes a good companion for Jackaby, where he looks at the big picture, Miss Rook is able to look at specific details, helping anchor her employee.

The one thing about these two characters that I absolutely adore: MINOR SPOILERS is that there is no forced romance between the two of them. At no point in this novel do you feel like Jackaby and Miss Rook will ever get together or need to get together. What this novel offers is the ground work for a great friendship and we need more books about friendships.

Don’t take this as there being no romance in this book, Miss Rook has her eyes set on a strapping young policeman and Jackaby has the possibility of falling into a relationship with his housekeeper. We’ll have to wait and see where the rest of the series takes these characters and how it develops their relationships.

The majority of the plot revolves around the case that Jackaby and Miss Rook are working on. The mystery is fun and keeps the reader engaged. William Ritter drops enough clues for the reader that it is possible to figure out who the murderer is before our characters. As expected there are a few nods towards the Sherlock Holmes canon, Miss Rook draws connections between Jackaby’s methods and Sherlock Holmes.

Now remember, this book deals with the paranormal, a world that Miss Rook didn’t believe existed until her encounter with Jackaby. She becomes a stand in for the reader and a reason for Jackaby to give explanations of these paranormal creatures.  This works as both work for and against the novels. Though these explanations are really interesting to read, and they give key information on the creatures that our characters are encountering it doesn’t feel like dialogue. Jackaby has a distinct voice, and these moments of info dumping don’t match up with the voice that the rest of his dialogue is put in. This is my major complaint with this book, I wished that Ritter had found a way to show not tell.

Jackaby is an entertaining read, it was about time that a Sherlock-like character wandered into the paranormal investigator role. Fans of Doctor Who and Sherlock will be able to appreciate the mash up of two of their favourite characters. So if you’re looking for a quick fun read then I suggest you check this one out!

Favourite/Memorable Quotes

“It wasn’t that I did not believe in ghosts; it was that I believed in them in the same non committal way that I believed in giant squids or lucky coins of Belgium. They were things that probably existed, but I had never had any occasion to really care one way or another.”

“Now he must know that he us at the end of his free rein. Like a caged gooe, he will be more erratic, more unpredictable, and more deadly to anyone caught up in the trap with him.” “A caged goose?” I asked. “Yes. Geese are terrifying.”

“Ignorance is bliss, is that it?” “That’s insipid. Happiness is bliss- but ignorance is anesthetic, and in the face of what’s to come, that may be the best we can hope for our ill-fated acquaintances.”

“That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest ones always are.”

“Monsters are easy, Miss Rook. They’re monsters. But a monster in a suit? That’s basically just a wicked man, and a wicked man is a more dangerous thing by far.”

“This world is full of dragon-slayers. What we need are a few more people who aren’t too proud to listen to a few fish.”

Summary
Jackaby is what you get when you put Matt Smith’s Doctor and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes in a blender. Though not without it’s faults the novel was a fun quick read worth checking out if you have a soft spot for paranormal mysteries.
Good
  • Interesting use of mythology and folklore
  • Great premise
Bad
  • Awkward dialogue
  • A lot of telling and not showing
7
Good
Plot - 7
Characters - 8
Setting - 6
Writing Style - 7
Enjoyability - 7
Written by
Alexandra is always looking for the next book she can devour. She has a love hate relationship with teen fiction specifically when it comes to fantasy, post apocalyptic and failed shakespeare adaptations.

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