A Deadly Deception
Constance Piper Mystery #3
By Tessa Harris
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
London, July 1889. Eight months have passed since the horrific murder of Mary Jane Kelly. The residents of Whitechapel have begun breathing easy again–daring to leave windows open and walk about at twilight. But when old Alice Mackenzie is found dead, throat slashed almost from ear to ear, the whispers begin once more: Jack the Ripper is back.
Constance Piper, a flower seller with a psychic gift, was a friend to both women. With the supernatural help of her late mentor, Miss Emily Tindall, and her more grounded ally, police detective Thaddeus Hawkins, she uncovers links between the murders and a Fenian gang. The Fenians, committed to violence to further their goal of an independent Ireland, are also implicated in a vicious attack in which the Countess of Kildane’s uncle was killed. Could the Whitechapel murders be a ruse to make the British police look helpless?
Soon, Constance is called upon for help. But there are spies everywhere in the city, and a bomb plot intended to incur devastating carnage. And as Constance is fast discovering, the greatest evil may not lurk in the grimy alleys of the East End, but in a conspiracy that runs from Whitechapel to the highest office in the land . . . (Goodreads)
Tessa Harris’s A Deadly Deception, the third book in the Constance Piper Mystery series, dives into the darker side of Victorian England and turns the Jack the Ripper mystique on its head.
Flower seller Constance Piper is devastated when her mother’s friend Alice is murdered, much in the same fashion as Jack the Ripper’s victims. Has the notorious killer returned to Whitechapel to wreak havoc? When connections between the Fenians (Irish Nationalists) and the murders arise, Constance, with the help of her spirit guide Emily and her friend Acting Inspector Thaddeus Hawkins, finds that there are powerful forces at work in London.
A Deadly Deception tells a complex, convoluted tale of murder and corruption. It is not difficult to follow, but it is not particularly light reading either. I read a lot of historical mysteries and fiction, and I appreciate that Harris weaves a great deal of real people and events into the story, but she also takes a lot of liberties with Jack the Ripper and his victims. However, since no one really knows Jack’s identity, Harris may have stumbled on the truth. Who knows? So many of the historical mysteries I read focus on an aristocratic protagonist, but Constance is working class, providing a fresh perspective to the Victorian Era. The setting is gritty, and, though the descriptions are not overly graphic, the story does not shy away from the plight of the poor.
As much as I want to, I just cannot seem to warm up to Constance…or most of the other characters. Everyone appears to want to undermine everyone around them and is not very appealing. Hawkins is the exception; I like his sense of justice and willingness to be a voice for the unfortunate. Emily’s narrative provides much of the important information in the story, but I do not like that Constance seems to rely on Emily’s supernatural guidance instead of thinking for herself.
A Deadly Deception is an interesting read, I just do not find it particularly compelling.