Hi everyone! Today I’m excited to participate in the blog tour for People of Abandoned Character written by Clare Whitfield, published by Head of Zeus and hosted by Midas PR. If you’re looking to read a unique take on the story of Jack the Ripper and revisit Victorian London, then look no further. Thanks to the publisher for sharing an excerpt from the story!
Marry in haste . . . Murder at leisure?
London, 1888: Susannah rushes into marriage to a young and wealthy surgeon. After a passionate honeymoon, she returns home with her new husband wrapped around her little finger. But then everything changes.
Thomas’s behavior becomes increasingly volatile and violent. He stays out all night, returning home bloodied and full of secrets. The gentle caresses she enjoyed on her wedding night are now just a honeyed memory.
When the first woman is murdered in Whitechapel, Susannah’s interest is piqued. But as she follows the reports of the ongoing hunt for the killer, her mind takes her down the darkest path imaginable. Every time Thomas stays out late, another victim is found dead.
Is it a coincidence? Or is her husband the man they call Jack the Ripper?
First murder A WHITECHAPEL HORROR A woman, now lying unidentified at the mortuary, Whitechapel, was viciously stabbed to death between two and four o’clock this morning, her outraged corpse found on the landing of a staircase inside George’s Buildings, Whitechapel. George’s Buildings are tenements occupied by the labouring classes. The woman was stabbed in twenty-four places. No weapon was found and the murderer left no trace. She was of middle age and height, with black hair and a round face. It appears she was a woman of the lowest class. There wasn’t much in that first report; a few cursory lines notable only for their sparsity and violence. For some stupid reason I thought of Thomas and his scratches, but he was not the type to loiter in Whitechapel. Twenty-four stab wounds… I had seen the damage one or two could do, but twenty-four! A few days later, more pages were given to the murder. One paper stated that the woman had been stabbed thirty or forty times, not twenty-four. Some poor tenant had come down the stairs of his block and stumbled over her body. He wasn’t the first to pass by her either; another man had stepped over what he thought was a sleeping vagrant and continued to his bed at three-thirty. By quarter to five the next man to pass could see the woman was lying in a swamp of her own clotting blood and ran to find a policeman. There were reports of two soldiers from the Tower being arrested; then the soldiers were released without charge. I found myself thinking about the story throughout the days that followed. Finding a dead body on the streets of Whitechapel or on a landing in a Nicholl terrace was not that unusual, and there were murders over mundane things such as tobacco or soap, but this woman had suffered stab wounds all over her chest and to the rest of her body. As a nurse I had tended to many such injuries, inflicted with all manner of sharp objects and sometimes more than once, but the effort and time it would have taken to stab that poor woman some thirty times, over and over again, shocked me. It was dispiritingly common for men to beat their wives to death in a frenzy of rage or passion, using whatever came to hand, either stabbing or strangling them, but this was mutilation for the sport. For a person to have expended such energy and at so much risk, he must have anticipated deriving a huge amount of pleasure from it. Everything else about this woman was unremarkable: she was of average height, aged between thirty and forty, dressed in dark, dirty and torn clothes and carrying no discernible possessions. Someone who would likely not be missed. The only remarkable thing the poor cow achieved was to have been found on a stairwell, punctured like a sieve, and to have died silently, because none of the seventeen lodgers in that building heard a thing. (p73)
Thanks to the publisher for gifting me an ARC in exchange and for including me in the blog tour!
– About the Author –
Clare Whitfield is a UK-based writer living in a suburb where the main cultural landmark is a home store/Starbucks combo. Clare nurtures an obsession with female characters that are as much villain as a hero and enjoys lurking in the blurry landscape between perception and reality. She is the wife of a tattoo artist, mother of a small benign dictator, and relies on her dog for emotional stability. Previously Clare has been a dancer, copywriter, amateur fire-breather, buyer, and mediocre weightlifter. People of Abandoned Character is her first novel. Follow Clare on Twitter (@whitfield_riley) and Instagram (@clarerileywhitfield)
Thank you for reading! Will you be adding “People of Abandoned Character” to your tbr? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!