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This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.
Annie Chapman led a hard, lower class life in filthy 19th century London. Late in life, circumstances and her choices led her to earn her crust by solicitation. After a bruising brawl with another woman over money and a man, she lost her lodgings and found herself sleeping rough. That dangerous turn of events delivered her into the hands of London's most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
Contrasting her last week alive with the experiences of her earlier life, the author helps listeners understand how she might have made the decisions that put her in the wrong place at the wrong time.
There are a few things that have always made me stop and take notice: Sherlock Holmes, vampires, New Orleans, and Jack the Ripper. When in London, in 1999, for just a day, the must do things were the bookstores on Charing Cross Road, dinner at The Hard Rock Café and the Jack the Ripper Tour. One might even say that I am obsessive about these favorite things.
The narrator of APOLOGIES TO THE CATS MEAT MAN, Alicia Rose, is excellent. Her British accent sets the mood while the words remain clear and unambiguous.
As a general rule, I enjoy audio books once I have read the paper or ebook; I find that knowing the story helps me follow the narration better. This is an experiment in listening without having first read the book, and I would say that as experiments go, this was a rousing success.
I have long admired Alan M. Clarke as an artist, and now I can say that his writing matches or exceeds his art. He makes it perfectly clear at the outset that APOLOGIES TO THE CATS MEAT MAN is not another tale of Saucy Jack. It is a totally believable fictional biography of Jack's second victim, Annie Chapman. Her story will never be fully known, after all, she was a poor woman and no one would have thought her worthy of a biography. The tale Clarke weaves is totally believable to anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with Victorian era England. We know for a fact that she was poor, married to John Chapman, had children, drank too much, and was murdered. None of this is in dispute; however, no one is just what is available in the public record.
This is Dark Annie's narrative where Jack the Ripper is a mere cameo at the end.
APOLOGIES TO THE CATS MEAT MAN is the fourth book in the Jack the Ripper Victims series. It is not a series that needs to be read in order, so I am now looking forward to reading or listening to the other books in this series.
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