Anatomy of Evil (Barker & Llewelyn)
by Will Thomas
Cover Artist: Man in walkway by Boy Bishop / Arcangel Images;
Knife in hand by Jitka Saniova / Trevillion Images;
Back Cover by Alexander Tihonov / Shutterstock
Review by Mel Jacob
St. Martin's Griffin Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250092441
Date: 06 September 2016 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Concerned that a recent murder in Whitechapel is stirring up anti-Jewish feelings, Llewelyn and his Jewish friend, a reporter, undertake to investigate on their own. However, a sudden attack scares them both. Barker warns them to stop these lone investigations and to go home.
As a private enquiry agent, Barker, despite his interest in the murder, has no client and is disinclined to investigate further. Then a friend, Robert Anderson, visits and asks Barker's help to solve the Whitechapel murder. Anderson was recently appointed to head the Criminal Investigation Department of Scotland Yard. His health makes it imperative he take a recuperation visit to Switzerland. During his absence, he wants Barker to join Scotland Yard as his special assistant and find the killer. It means closing the enquiry agency in the interim. A large sum will be paid for his services. Aware of the political ramifications and the threat to Jews and other minorities, Barker agrees.
Scotland Yard is rife with senior officers jostling for control, the rivalries between local divisions and higher-ups, and stiff insistence on rank. Barker and Llewelyn step into a nest of vipers that have no respect for any except their own. Llewelyn ends up making tea and running errands. He and Barker make undercover nightly forays into Whitechapel dressed as civilians. As they begin examining the files, they soon discover the pertinent ones are often held by one or another of the senior officers. So, the task of learning the status of the investigations is difficult. Then, another murder occurs.
Politics also rears its head and Queen Victoria expresses her concern. Some fear the heir to the throne might be involved. Aware of the difficulties, Barker pushes his investigations ever closer to the killer. He is able to eliminate some of the suspects easily as the murders become more vicious.
Well written and researched, Thomas recreates the confusion and helplessness felt by many at the time. The politics of the nation and of Scotland Yard are revealed while holding the reader's interest. Thomas has relied on many sources in researching the background and ultimately in naming a person as Jack the Ripper. Some myths are also debunked. This is the seventh Barker and Llewelyn mystery.