After absconding with the money her parents set aside for her tuition in search of adventure, Abigail finds herself disillusioned and ashamed to return home when her excursion grounds to an unexpected halt. Ever resourceful, Abigail embarks on a ship bound for New England and lands in picturesque New Fiddleham. Fresh off the boat and in dire need of money, Abigail stumbles upon a peculiar advertisement for an investigative assistant, preferably one of keen intellect, open mind and strong stomach. Unsure what to expect, but desperate for employment, Abigail arrives at the residence of Mr. R.F. Jackaby.
In a rush to leave, Jackaby reluctantly agrees to give Abigail a shot at the position, on a trail basis. The duo arrive at the scene of a gruesome murder in an apartment complex. As the search for evidence begins, it quickly becomes evident to Abigail that Jackaby is anything but an ordinary investigator. She soon learns that Jackaby is an eccentric investigator of the unexplained who can see supernatural creatures and spirits. He is also a thorn in the local police constable's side, who scoffs at the very mention of supernatural beings. A serial murderer is stalking the streets of New Fiddleham and, human or otherwise, Abigail must use her keen observation skills to help Jackaby bring down the killer before it's too late.
Jackaby has been marketed as Sherlock meets Doctor Who and after reading the title, I have to agree with this assessment. It is clear that Jackaby is modeled after Sherlock, with his encyclopedia knowledge and social callousness, though he does have a slightly more pleasant disposition. The assertive and cheeky narrator, Abigail Rook, makes an intriguing replacement for Sherlock's dour counterpart Watson. Ritter populates the novel with unique supernatural elements derived from folklore, adding a fresh twist to the hard-boiled detective story. Written in lyrical prose fitting for the time period and filled with witty banter Jackaby is sure to appeal to a broad range of readers.
For other Sherlock Holmes inspired stories, check out The Boy Sherlock Holmes series by Shane Peacock and The Young Sherlock Holmes series by Andy Lane. For other historical mysteries with a supernatural twist, try The Diviners by Libba Bray and The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason.