Sherlock Book Reviews - Sherlock Holmes and The Unmasking of the Whitechapel Horror

Posted by Steve Emecz on

Sherlock Holmes Society of London

This is the first Holmesian pastiche of its kind that I have read. I assume that there have been others on this theme. The narrative brings together the eternal mystery over the identity of Jack the Ripper and the successful prosecution and subsequent execution of a multiple murderer. In other words, Jack the Ripper is, in this book, satisfactorily dealt with albeit only indirectly. The police detectives are, as usual, ably assisted by Sherlock Holmes with Watson acting as usual as a mere chronicler. The book is full of Canonical references which the author no doubt hopes will ground it in Holmesian reality. However, there are so many such references that I feel it’s been rather overdone. There are the seemingly inevitable lurches into modern, and therefore inappropriate, phraseology and transatlantic expressions. Whether these are instinctive and thoughtless on the author’s part, or a deliberate policy to appeal to his fellow American readers, is a moot point. Overall, it is an enjoyable piece of work and deserves the same success as Mr Emerson’s other contributions to the Holmesian world.


Sherlock Holmes and The Unmasking of the Whitechapel Horror is available now pre-publication from this site and pre-order from all good bookstores including:

Amazon USA      Barnes and Noble

Amazon UK      Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)



A gripping and engrossing tale of suspense, intrigue, deduction, and dogged determination.

The game is afoot once again in Frank Emerson’s riveting historical mystery, Sherlock Holmes and The Unmasking of the Whitechapel Horror.

Told by in “flashback” fashion by Dr. Watson, the story begins by going back to April 1903. Here, the world’s first consulting detective and “the best and wisest man I had ever known,” Sherlock Holmes, joins faithful note-taking companion Dr. Watson and Detective Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline of Scotland Yard to witness the execution of the “human abomination” known to the world as Jack the Ripper.


Looking back on the event some years later, Watson returns to his notes, memories, inquiries, and investigations regarding the nightmarish crimes that occurred in Whitechapel in the late 1880s. Thus armed, Watson says he “shall endeavor to provide a true and accurate deposition of this singular case.” Readers then join Watson as Holmes deploys his prodigious powers of observation and deduction to unravel one of history’s most enduring criminal conundrums: the “true identity” of the notorious Jack the Ripper. The spellbinding account spans fifteen years, two continents, several murders, and an “unmasking” that is as astonishing as it is surprising.

Along the way, readers are treated to a masterfully crafted story that fleshes out setting, contexts, and characters, some of whom alert readers will have met in previous works. Lending additional context to the narrative, the plot includes ties to other historical events and Holmes cases. These include the Second Boer War in South Africa, the Boxer Rebellion in China, the death of Queen Victoria, and the Coronation of Edward VII. Also the case of the black pearls of the Borgias and the problem of “the matching revolvers of the Thor Bridge mystery.” Holmes’s brother Mycroft and Sherlock’s old nemesis, Moriarty, also put in brief appearances in this rousing good read.

Top-notch writing and expert storytelling propel a robust plot and keep you guessing until the very end. Highlights include Holmes’s interrogation/debrief of the prime suspect. It’s classic Sherlock. Consequent courtroom proceedings are as riveting as they are revelatory. Can the prime suspect in multiple poisonings also be responsible for the brutal homicides in Whitechapel? How? Why? Will the esteemed duo of Holmes and Watson be able to bring an end to a fourteen-year crime spree and solve one of the greatest murder mysteries in history?

Fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will be delighted with The Unmasking. Those not yet familiar with Doyle will also enjoy this gripping and engrossing tale of suspense, intrigue, and dogged determination.

Finally, “… unless I am in error which is unlikely,” this is a rollicking good read. I couldn’t put it down!


Wytheville Enterprise, VA

What happens when you take one of the most elusive criminals in history and pit him against arguably the greatest fictitious sleuth of all time?  You end up with one of the sharpest murder mystery novels conjured in recent years.  Sherlock Holmes and the Unmasking of the Whitechapel Horror is even more special with the knowledge that it is the brainchild of Wytheville’s own Frank Emerson.  Now retired from a long career as a preeminent Irish musician, Frank is looking to spend more time crafting some of his other claims to fame, such as writing local history as well as some humor pieces.

His foray into fiction is a daring plunge into the hybrid of fiction and truth, to which he applies his vast intellect and razor-sharp wit.  Our protagonist is humanized to a pitiable level as the reader learns early on that the seemingly unflappable Sherlock Holmes is battling demons of his own that are as dangerous as the criminals on which he is so intent to bring down.  With his ever-faithful Dr. John H. Watson at his side, however, justice is determined to carry the day.  Frank reveals his story as a previously lost chronicle of how Watson, Holmes, and real-life Detective Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline of Scotland Yard conquered Jack the Ripper over a 15-year investigation.

I was thoroughly impressed with the author’s ability to successfully blend fact and fiction in such a manor that made for a seamless storyline.  All of the previously-published and well-known Holmes adventures such as The Hound of the Baskervilles are noted in chronological order along with the true historical timeline of the Ripper murders through the last couple of decades in the 19th century.  He also perfectly aligns his story with actual British history, acknowledging the end of the Victorian era in 1901 with the passing of Queen Victoria. 

I also mention Emerson’s nod to The Hound of the Baskervilles, a written test on which I was ashamedly reminded of flunking in Audrey Smothers’s sophomore English class.  I ended up redeeming myself, however, by winning the English award that year, but still found myself a little embarrassed at enjoying Emerson’s story so much after doing so poorly on my comprehension of the original Holmes classic.  For the avid Sherlock Holmes fan, there are plenty of other references to original Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle.

A universal theme Emerson also kept true to the original stories was the unbreakable bond between Holmes and Watson.  A deep friendship such as theirs is sadly rarely found outside of the fictional realm these days.  Nevertheless, Emerson notes romances for Holmes and even marriages for Watson, but nothing can quench either men’s thirst for adventure and justice.

Thus, they watch carefully, year after year, as Ripper, assuming aliases, continues his sadistic patterns of heinous murder.  Many lives are lost as they bide their time.  However, Holmes’s ultimate theory of patience is put to the test many times, not excluding that of the reader, to see justice done.

However, as the climax and resolution of the story begin to show, the reader is taken on a fast-paced ride through the defrauding, capture, trial and fate of one of the most horrible criminals our world has ever seen.  This is perhaps most gratifying in that Jack the Ripper was never successfully identified or apprehended in real-life.  His many murder victims were never vindicated by justice.

Likewise, the ultimate the full lives of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson, one of the most beloved duos in literary history are culminated beautifully in this one-of-a-kind tale from our own Frank Emerson.  Whether you are a fan of murder mystery or real history, Sherlock Holmes and the Unmasking of the Whitechapel Horror is sure to delight readers with either taste.  Frank Emerson is someone to whom I have always looked up and admired as a writer and entertainer, and this project is likely to serve as a high point in his already vast array of career achievements.


Sherlock Holmes and The Unmasking of the Whitechapel Horror is available now pre-publication from this site and pre-order from all good bookstores including:

Amazon USA      Barnes and Noble

Amazon UK      Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

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