“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion–and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.
We had the chance to chat with Mr. Ritter about Jackaby and all kinds of things! Check out the interview below!
Jackaby by William Ritter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Jackaby, I just knew that I had to read it. The cover was what drew me in if I’m perfectly honest with you, but then I read Doctor Who meets Sherlock and I was honestly sold. While I don’t watch either of these shows on a regular basis, I was intrigued by the idea of a story that encompassed both.
Jackaby didn’t disappoint.
The setting is New Fiddleham, New England, 1892 and Abigail is just off a boat and looking for employment. She is turned away over and over until she meets R. F. Jackaby an investigator in dire need of an assistant. What Abigail quickly learns is that Jackaby investigates the strange and paranormal… not exactly what she was expecting!
The best part of this story for me were the characters. Jackaby is endearing in an awkward, to the point, eccentric kind of way and Abigail Rook is his perfect complement.
With a stinky toad, a ghost as a roommate and a former assistant who is now a duck, Jackaby is used to dealing with the weird stuff that normal people don’t notice. He’s got a keen eye for the supernatural and he’s a straight to the point kind of guy and he’s such an interesting and intriguing character and so fun to read about.
Abigail on the other hand is practical and on the run from her mundane life and looking for adventure. And she’s found it in working with Jackaby. Immediately she’s swept into Jackaby’s latest case… a serial murder is what the police think, but of course Jackaby has other suspicions and so the mystery begins.
While the mystery itself was a little predictable for me, it was still a fun and fast-paced read. There was plenty of action and I absolutely fell in love with the interactions between Abigail and Jackaby!
“Why don’t you have a little notebook?” I asked.
“What? A notebook?”
“Yes, for jotting down clues and leads and things. Terribly handy for a detective, I should think. Marlowe’s got one. It has a leather cover and flips up top-wise. I wouldn’t mind a notebook like that, myself. We should each have one. We’d look more like proper detectives, then.”
“Firstly,” Jackaby said with a sigh, “a ‘proper detective’ is about the last thing a good detective wants to look like, most of the time. Secondly, it isn’t a bad idea on the whole, but I’ve used notebooks and I found them entirely useless. I’ve give them to my assistants to type up, and none of them could ever decipher my handwriting. One of them rather rudely suggested it looked like the scribblings of a chimp.”
“Well then, you could always read it out for me to copy – or not copy it at all, just use it for your own reference.”
“Well, that’s no good.”
“Because ‘chimp’ was generous. I can scarcely read a word I’ve written. I find it’s far simpler to skip the exercise entirely. I can dictate my findings to you at the end of the day in the comfort of the office.”
“Well, I should still like one, myself, someday. I think I would look quite sharp with a leather notebook. Oh, and a magnifying glass. I would feel much more like a detective with a magnifying glass.”
Those of you looking for some romance here might be disappointed. While there are some subtle hints of romance, it isn’t a big part of the story. Instead I loved the focus on the platonic friendship that was building between Abigail and Jackaby. I also really loved the secondary characters that Ritter introduces us to in Jenny, Charlie & Chief Inspector Marlowe.
While there are no additional books listed in goodreads right now, I can’t help but think that this book is the perfect set-up to a series revolving around these characters and the paranormal. I’m absolutely hoping that is the case! (AND YAY Will confirms more is coming above!!)
Fans of quirky, fun characters definitely need to pick this one up… I can absolutely see fans of Sherlock & Dr. Who enjoying this as stated in the summary and if you’re looking for something a bit different in the paranormal genre this definitely fits the bill!
Thank you to Algonquin books for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts!