Overall I liked Dust and Shadow, and would be inclined to give it 3.5 stars. It really felt like a Sherlock Holmes story that was very cohesive with the Sherlock Holmes series
written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
. Watson was Watson, Holmes was Holmes, Victorian England was Victorian England, and it just seemed like Lyndsay Faye
took to heart the maxim, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
I thought it was a very interesting idea to have Holmes investigating the Jack the Ripper killings, and Faye did a nice job of melding fact with fiction here. No one really knows who Jack the Ripper was. I was intrigued to find out how Faye was going to cope with that pesky little fact, but she handled it quite adeptly, I thought. The story was satisfying.
I did feel like the book suffered from a bit of unevenness, however. There was plenty to engage the reader, which is good, since the Ripper killings have engaged people for 124 years, but in the middle of the book things slowed way down. I began thinking that the book was too long, that maybe there just wasn't enough known fact and evidence to support this story, maybe Holmes was left twisting too much, maybe there wasn't enough there for him to draw deductions from. To be honest, I did tune out once in awhile. Once I got through the slower parts, however, things picked up again, and all was well.
In the end I thought that this was a very competent Sherlock Holmes book. I know that it wasn't written by Doyle, but I bet he would have enjoyed it.