Laughed ‘Til He Died – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
Jean’s harsh sobs brought Max’s secretary, whose heart was as big as her beehive hairdo, to his office door. Summer-bright in a yellow tunic and white caprice, Barb looked at him questioningly. As awkward as most men in the face of feminine meltdown, Max cleared his throat. “How about some iced tea, Jean? Hey, Barb, bring us some of your special fruit tea and good lemon pie.” Jean using a handkerchief provided by Max, wiped her face, leaving purplish smudges atop puffy redness. She looked shyly at Barb when she returned. Barb placed a try with two big tumblers and two plates on the desk. “Goji berries and guava, my own private blend. Guaranteed to refresh. And lemon pie made this morning.”
Jean Hughes had just stepped into Max Darling’s office at the Confidential Commissions. Jean, who is the director of a youth recreation center called the Haven, came to seek Max’s help. One of the directors was in the process of acquiring enough votes to have her dismissed and she didn’t want to go down without a fight. Since Max’s specialty is in solving problems, he takes her on as a client.
Annie Darling, Max’s wife, owns a mystery bookstore called Death on Demand. At first, she’s not comfortable with Max taking Jean as a client. But that changed with the death of a young member from the Haven and the death of one of the Haven’s directors with Jean being the police’s number one suspect.
I’ve read both of Carolyn Hart’s Bailey Ruth books and loved them. I’m patiently waiting for her to write a 3rd. This is the first of her Death on Demand books that I’ve had a chance to read and I have to say I love it too. Carolyn Hart holds you in suspense until the end. She gives no clues throughout the book allowing you to guess at who the killer really is. In fact, she actually had me believing that the killer just might be Jean Hughes. Did Carolyn Hart lead me on a wild goose chase throughout the whole book? I’ll never tell. Read Laughed ‘Til He Died and find out for yourself.
Dracula Doesn’t Live Here Anymore – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
“Look at me Dexter, look at my eyes.” He did as she asked, and for the first time, he noticed the redness. Her eyes were like two ruby red pools and they were growing deeper with every passing second. She moved closer to him, took his hand in hers for the first time, and he was aware instantly of an energy, a sort of electricity flowing between them.
Brian L. Porter has done it again and I have to admit that he really messed with my mind in his short story Dracula Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. The two main characters, Dexter and Christina are both investigative reporters, attempting to uncover the truth regarding the deaths of five people in Dracula country. All victims have been completely drained of their blood. Vampires? A “Crazy” at large? I think you will be as surprised as I was when you discover the answer to that question.
Ghost at Work – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
“He’s dead!” Her voice was a whisper. “What am I going to do?” “Call the police.” I clapped my fingers to my mouth. I hadn’t intended to speak. “I can’t.” It was a moan. The moan turned into a strangled gasp. She looked wildly about. “Who’s there? Where are you?” Skirting the body, she hurried to the back door, flung it open, clattered down the steps. In an instant she returned to the porch, dashed to the rectory back door, yanked it open, seeking the source of the voice.
Bailey Ruth Raeburn is dead and living the the glories of Heaven, but there are times when an “emissary” from Heaven needs to be sent back to earth to help out those in trouble. Bailey Ruth has never had the honor of being returned to earth as an emissary so Wiggins, who is in charge of this Heavenly task, must teach her the rules and prepare her before letting her depart. Unfortunately, there is no time for preparation. In Bailey Ruth’s own home town of Adelaide, someone has murdered Daryl Murdoch right on the steps of the rectory. It becomes Bailey Ruth’s job as an emissary to protect Kathleen, who just happens to be the pastor’s wife, and hopefully find the real killer.
As Bailey Ruth approaches Kathleen, she knows that before she can help her she must first gain her trust without scaring her half to death. This isn’t an easy task since Kathleen can hear Bailey Ruth but not see her. The solution to that is to appear but that is frowned upon in the Precepts, which are the rules an emissary must follow.
After Bailey Ruth and Kathleen finally get a grip on the real situation, it’s decided that the best thing to do is to move the body away from the rectory. And where would be a better place to deposit a dead body in the cemetery. But doing that will take some imagination from Bailey Ruth. She can’t just snap her fingers and have the body moved, so she must find a mode of transportation and the wheel barrow seems to be perfect vehicle. As she and Kathleen wheel Murdoch’s body to it’s destination, they discover that the cemetery is occupied by a couple of teens who are attempting to remove the greyhound statue that watches over the Pritchard mausoleum. She accomplishes this by grabbing the crowbar away from one of the boys and flinging it out into the darkness. But, Kathleen has already dumped the body on the steps of the mausoleum where it’s discovered by the two frightened teens.
Ghost at Work is the first book written by Carolyn Hart in the Bailey Ruth series. In Ghost at Work, Bailey Ruth is an emissary in training and on probation. Following her antics as she tries to follow the rules of not appearing, speaking, nor scaring the living half to death unless completely necessary, I’ve found Ghost at Work to be humorous and creative. Hart’s characters are not only believable but you find yourself completely wrapped up in them, not wanting the book to end. And fortunately, Bailey Ruth is carried forward in Hart’s second book in the series titled Merry, Merry Ghost. I’ve had the enjoyment of reading both of these light hearted books and can’t wait for the next.
I’ve read many series books which spotlight the same character and have found that after a while, the character becomes predictable and over years “aged.” Bailey Ruth is one character that I feel that can never happen to. After all, she is a “ghost.”
A Lesson in Murder – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘George Wheeler sat in the driver’s seat, looking as lifeless as the car in which he was sitting. On the seat next to him, was a stuffed animal which looked like Walt Disney’s Pluto. A large, flat, hardback book lay open in his lap. Wheeler’s usual black horn-rimmed glasses had been replaced with large, bright yellow-framed spectacles. Barnum again peered in the window quickly. Wheeler’s tan, healthy-looking face had been smeared with what appeared to be charcoal ashes.’
George Wheeler usually met with his advertising agent at 6:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for their jogs in the park. During this time, Wheeler who was in the pharmaceutical business would pitch ideas to Barnum as they ran. But as Barnum soon found out, Wheeler had performed his last job and pitched his last idea. Someone had murdered him.
Maxwell Hunter is an English teacher for Eastern Friends School in Pennsylvania. Eastern Friends School (EFS) was originally a private school for the wealthy but had started adding a few students, through grants, that were exceptionally intelligent. Hunter has a passion for mystery solving and is a stickler for details. That and Hunter’s familiarity with the people involved prompted Lt. Frank DiSalvo to ask Hunter for his help in solving the murder of George Wheeler. But, as it turns out, Wheeler wasn’t the only one to be murdered and each murder is in some way connected with the school.
As I read A Lesson in Murder I found myself second guessing my own ideas as to who the killer was. And I have to say that I was surprised with the ending. I had several suspects in mind but never really narrowed it down to one. I really enjoyed reading A Lesson in Murder and recommend it to anyone who would like a quick read mystery.
Moonlighting in Vermont – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
“Bella Bree MacGowan,” he repeated. “I am authorized to detain you on the suspicion of murdering Vera Post. Will you come with me please.” It wasn’t a request.
Bree MacGowan was the last person, anyone that knew her, would suspect of murder. She owned her own farm which became a rescue haven for animals. So many animals in fact that she worked two jobs just to keep them in food. Her main source of income came from being a paste-up artist for the Royalton Star owned by her best friend Meg who was married to Police Captain Thomas Maverick. Her part-time job was working as a housekeeper for Whispering Birches, a secluded resort that catered to the rich and famous. It was at Whispering Birches that Bree found the body of Vera Post, the head of housekeeping.
Why would anyone kill Vera? Easy answer. Everyone hated Vera, including her own sister. She enjoyed making trouble, spreading rumors, telling lies, plus she was just down right mean. So why pick Bree out of the pack as the number one suspect? She found the body and her fingerprints were all over the room.
Bree is as stubborn as a pit bull. When she grabs onto something she won’t let go. Her determination shows through as she tries to prove her innocence and find the real killer. And no one can stop her, especially Lieutenant Brooks, the arresting officer. Her quest to prove her innocence has her kidnapped, carted around in the trunk of a car, handcuffed to a bed and stabbed with a pair of scissors. But she still won’t give up.
In Moonlighting in Vermont, Author Kate George uses her style of writing to actually put humor in kidnappings, attempted murder and even murder itself. I thoroughly enjoyed following Bree through her comical situations as she took life one day at a time. The story and characters are so realistic that you find yourself believing they are real. I felt as if I had just read a very long newspaper account of an event that really happened.
Moonlighting in Vermont will be released August 27, 2009
Gumbo Justice – Holli Castillo, Author – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘Ryan couldn’t keep her thoughts from drifting back to the homicides on the short drive home. L’Roid Smith had been killed in a way common among gangs members – beaten, shot in the head execution style and left naked. It was the ultimate humiliation, and the same way he had committed his own gang murders, including the one Ryan had tried to prosecute. And Jeremiah had been beaten, the same way he had beaten his wife on the case Ryan had handled.’
Ryan Murphy is a New Orleans Assistant District Attorney working to build a winning case history in the hopes of being promoted to the “Strike Force.” But she has a problem. The die-hard criminals that she prosecutes are turning up dead in the same fashion of pain and death that they bestowed on their victims. Even though this may be getting the criminals off the streets, it’s not helping Ryan with her promotion. Especially when news leaks to the media that there is a connection between Ryan and the deaths.
Gumbo Justice was a book that I actually sat up until 1:00 in the morning to finish. I had to know who was trying to ruin Ryan’s career and why. This book is so well written that as I read along I actually started seeing Ryan and the other characters in action. It could easily be made into a movie and I know the perfect actress to play Ryan. Holly Hunter plays in a TV series called “Amazing Grace.” In my opinion “Grace” is the perfect Ryan. She loves to party, get down right dirty but still get her job done.
I thoroughly enjoyed Gumbo Justice and recommend it to anyone who loves a good murder mystery. Holli Castillo’s experience as a prosecutor and public defender in the New Orleans court system comes through with the full knowledge as to how the courts really work.
In reading A Study in Red – The Secret Journal of Jack The Ripper, I came across a passage written by Porter that explained why I couldn’t put this book down…. “there was a thrill attached to all the horror I was exposing myself to, not a pleasant thrill, but a thrill nonetheless.” To me the “thrill” was wanting to know the full story. With the available resources for research today it just might be possible for a writer to compile all of the evidence and form a conclusion that wasn’t possible 100 years ago. Was the Ripper a man sick in body as well as mind? Did he seek help from others? Did he tell someone else what he had done and not been believed? And why kill just prostitutes? Were they to blame for his illness? Or was it his own father that was to blame? Yes Porter tells you the story is fiction, but is it really? I’m not really sure anymore.
I’ve enjoyed reading this book. It’s a cross between a “fiction” and a “true crime.” So if you enjoy either genres you will enjoy A Study in Red. Do keep in mind that this book is very descriptive.
The London of the 1880s differed greatly from the city of today. Poverty and wealth existed side by side, the defining line between the two often marked only by the turning of a corner, from the well-lit suburban streets of the middle-classes and the wealthy to the seedy, crime and rat infested slums, where poverty, homelessness, desperation and deprivation walked hand in hand with drunkenness, immorality, and crime most foul. In the teeming slums of the city by night the most commonly heard cry in the darkness was thought to be that of ‘Murder!’ So inured were the people who lived amongst such squalor and amidst the fever of criminal intimidation that it is said that, in time no-one took any notice of such cries.
It was into this swirling maelstrom of vice and human degradation, London’s East End, that there appeared a malevolent force, a merciless killer who stalked the mean streets by night in search of his prey and gave the great metropolis that was London its first taste of that now increasingly common phenomenon, the serial killer! The streets of Whitechapel were to become the stalking ground of that mysterious and as yet still unidentified slayer known to history as ‘Jack the Ripper!’
AN EXTRACT FROM THE JOURNAL
Blood, beautiful, thick, rich, red, venous blood.
Its’ colour fills my eyes, its’ scent assaults my nostrils,
Its taste hangs sweetly on my lips.
Last night once more the voices called to me,
And I did venture forth, their bidding, their unholy quest to undertake.
Through mean, gas lit, fog shrouded streets, I wandered in the night, selected, struck, with flashing blade,
And oh, how the blood did run, pouring out upon the street, soaking through the cobbled cracks, spurting, like a fountain of pure red.
Viscera leaking from ripped red gut, my clothes assumed the smell of freshly butchered meat. The squalid, dark, street shadows beckoned, and under leaning darkened eaves, like a wraith I disappeared once more into the cheerless night,
The bloodlust of the voices again fulfilled, for a while…….
They will call again, and I once more will prowl the streets upon the night,
The blood will flow like a river once again.
Beware all those who would stand against the call,
I shall not be stopped or taken, no, not I.
Sleep fair city, while you can, while the voices within are still,
I am resting, but my time shall come again. I shall rise in a glorious bloodfest,
I shall taste again the fear as the blade slices sharply through yielding flesh,
when the voices raise the clarion call, and my time shall come again.
So I say again, good citizens, sleep, for there will be a next time………..
To my dearest nephew, Jack,
This testament, the journal, and all the papers that accompany it are yours upon my death, as they became mine upon my father’s death. You Aunt Sarah and I were never fortunate enough to have children of our own, so it is with a heavy heart that I write this note to accompany these pages. Had I any alternative, I would spare you the curse of our family’s deepest secret, or perhaps I should say, secrets! Having read what you are about to read, I had neither the courage to destroy it, or to reveal the secrets contained within these pages. I beg you, as my father begged me, to read the journal and the notes that go with it, and be guided by your conscience and your intelligence in deciding what course of action to take when you have done so. Whatever you decide to do dear nephew, I beg you, do not judge those who have gone before you too harshly, for the curse of the journal you are about to read is as real as these words I now write to you.
Be safe, Jack, but be warned.
Your loving uncle,
My great grandfather was a physician, with a penchant for psychiatry, as were my grandfather and my father and it was always a given thing that I would follow in the family tradition, as, from childhood, I wanted nothing more than to follow in my forebears footsteps, to alleviate the suffering of the afflicted, to help ease the mental pain experienced by those poor unfortunates so often castigated and so badly misunderstood by our society. My name? Well, for now let’s just call me Robert.
My father, whom I admit to idolizing for as long as I could remember, died just over four months ago, a sad waste, his life snuffed out in the few seconds it took for a drunk driver to career across the central reservation of the dual-carriageway he was driving along, and to collide head-on with Dad’s BMW. By the time the ambulance reached the scene of the crash, it was too late, there were no survivors!
Dad was buried in our local churchyard, beside my mother, who passed way ten years ago, and the private psychiatric practice I had shared with him for so long became my sole domain. As a mark of respect, I took the decision to leave Dad’s name on the brass plaque that adorns the pillar beside the front door. I saw no reason to remove it. A week after the funeral, I was surprised to receive a phone call from Dad’s solicitor, saying that he was in possession of a collection of papers my father had bequeathed to me. This was strange, as I thought that the will had been straight forward, everything shared equally between my brother Mark and myself. I had received Dad’s share of the practice, Mark a substantial and equivalent cash sum. As I drove to the solicitor’s office I wondered what could be of such importance that Dad had left it to me in such a mysterious fashion.
As I drove away from the solicitor’s office, I stared at the tightly bound sheaf of papers, wrapped in brown paper, and tied up with substantial string, that now resided on the passenger seat of the car. All that David the solicitor could tell me was that Dad had lodged the papers with him many years earlier, together with instructions that they were to be passed to me alone, one week after his funeral. He told me that Dad had placed a letter in a sealed envelope that would be on top of the package when I opened it. He knew nothing more. Knowing there was little I could do until I got home, I tried to put the package out of my mind, but my eyes kept straying towards the mysterious bundle, as if drawn inexorably by some unseen power. I was in a ferment of expectation as I drew up on the gravel drive of my neat detached suburban home, I felt as if Dad had something important to relate to me, from beyond the grave, something he obviously hadn’t been able to share with me during his lifetime.
My wife, Sarah, was away for the week, staying with her sister Jennifer, who had given birth to a son four days after Dad’s funeral. Jennifer had been married for three years to my cousin Tom, a brilliant if somewhat erratically minded computer engineer, who she had met at a dinner party at our house. Sarah had been reluctant to leave me so soon after Dad’s passing, and the funeral, but I insisted that she go and be with Jennifer at such an important and emotional time. I’d assured her that I’d be fine, and, as I locked the car and made my way to the front door of our home, I actually felt relieved that I was alone. Somehow, I felt that the papers I now carried under my arm were reserved for my eyes only, and I was grateful to have the time to explore their contents in private. I still had the rest of the week off, having paid a locum to baby-sit the practice during my official period of mourning, so the next few days were mine to do with as I chose.
Little did I know that, as I closed the heavy front door behind me, I was about to enter a world far removed from my cosy suburban existence, a world I had barely perceived from my history lessons at school. I was about to be shocked, all my conceptions of truth and respectability were to be rocked to the very core, though I didn’t know it yet.
I quickly changed into casual clothes, poured myself a large scotch, and retired to my study, eager to begin my investigation into Dad’s strange bequest. After seating myself comfortably in front of my desk, I took a sip of the warming, golden liquid in my glass, then, taking a pair of scissors from the desk, I tentatively cut the string from around the bundle of papers. Sure enough, as the solicitor had indicated, there on top of a very thick loosely bound stack of papers was a sealed brown envelope, addressed to me, in the unmistakable handwriting of my father. I held it in my hand for a good minute or so, then, as I looked down and saw that my hand was trembling with anticipation, I reached out with my left hand for the solid silver paper-knife in the shape of a sword that Sarah had bought me for my last birthday. In one swift movement I slit the top of the envelope, reached inside and removed the letter within. The letter, handwritten by my father and dated almost twenty years earlier was a revelation to me, even though, as I read, I was still unaware of the true significance of the loosely bound papers that accompanied it. The letter read as follows:
To my dearest son, Robert,
As my eldest son, and also my most trusted friend, I leave to you the enclosed journal, with its accompanying notes. This journal has been passed from generation to generation of our family, always to the eldest son, and now, as I must so obviously be dead, it has passed to you.
Be very careful, my son, with the knowledge that this journal contains. Within its pages you will find the solution (at least, a solution of sorts) to one of the great mysteries in the annals of British crime, but with that solution comes a dire responsibility. You may be tempted my son, to make public that which you are about to discover; you may feel that the public deserves to know the solution to the burning mystery, but, and I caution you most carefully, Robert, should you go public with the knowledge, you will risk destroying not only everything that our family has stood for through over a hundred years of medical research and progression in the field of psychiatric medicine, but you may also destroy the very credibility of our most cherished profession.
Murder most foul Robert! It is of that most heinous crime that you will read, as I read following the death of your grandfather, and he also before me. But are there worse things than murder in this world? Do we have the right as doctors to make the judgments that the courts should rightly dole out? My son, I hope you are ready for what you are about to learn, though I doubt I was at the time I read the journal. Read it well my son, and the notes that go with it, and judge for yourself. If, as I did, you feel suitably disposed, you will do also as our family have always done, and keep the knowledge of its contents a closely guarded secret, until the time is right to pass it on to your own offspring. The knowledge is I fear the cross the family must bear, until one day, perhaps, one of us feels so ridden by conscience or some form of need for absolution, to reveal what the pages contain.
Be strong my son, or, if you feel you cannot turn the first page, go no further, reseal the journal in its wrappings, and consign it to a deep vault somewhere, let it lie forever in darkness, where perhaps it rightly belongs, but, if you do read the contents, be prepared to carry the knowledge with you for ever, in your heart, in your soul, but worst of all, in your mind, a burden of guilt that can never be erased.
You are my eldest son, and I have always loved you dearly. Forgive me for placing this burden upon you,
Yours with love
As I finished reading the letter, I suddenly realized that I’d been holding my breath, such was the tension I felt inside, and I took a deep breath and then sighed. The trembling in my hands had increased, and I reached for the bottle of amber liquid at the side of the desk, and poured myself another large one. Suddenly, I felt as if whatever was contained within these papers lying unopened before me was about to irrevocably change my life, not outwardly perhaps, but I knew before I even looked at the documents that whatever was contained within these pages was obviously of grave significance. If not, why had my family gone to such pains to protect the secret contained within them? I gulped the scotch down, too fast, the liquid burned my throat, and I coughed involuntarily.
At this point of course, I had no idea what the papers contained, though my father’s words had given me a sneaking suspicion that I knew where this was leading. Unable to wait any longer, I broke the tapes around the journal, and there it was, the family secret, about to be unveiled! The first sheet of paper, resting on top of the rest, was definitely old, and written in the typical copperplate handwriting of the nineteenth century. There was no date or address at the top of the paper, it seemed to be little more than a series of notes, there was no signature, nothing at all to identify the writer.
I read as follows: How do I begin to relate all that has happened? Would anyone believe the incredible story? Is it the truth? Is he really the man? The journal could be the work of a clever man, an attempt to deceive those who read it, but no, I knew him too well, spoke with him too often. He was telling the truth! As for me, what of my part in all this? Am I guilty of complicity, or have I done the world a favour by my actions? That he will trouble the people of London no more is now certain. That he was deranged I could testify to myself, but what of proof? What of evidence? Apart from the ravings of the lunatic, all I have is the journal, and I had it too long, knew too much too soon, to bear the disgrace of admitting that I could have stopped it all if I had spoken sooner. Now I cannot speak at all for to do so would destroy me, my work, and my family. Who would understand that I held silent because I thought him mad, too mad to believe, and yet his madness was the very thing that drove him, and I should have believed. And when I did believe, what then? It was too late, I could do no more, God help me, I should have stopped him, stopped him right at the beginning when he told me, when he laughed and laughed and told me that no-one would ever catch him, why, oh why didn’t I believe him then?
After the most hideous death of that poor girl, Mary Kelly, I had to do something, and I did, but, knowing what I know, what I knew already, I should have acted sooner. May God forgive me; I could have stopped Jack the Ripper!
I was holding my breath again, and, as I exhaled, my eyes moved to the final note at the bottom of the page, seemingly written some time later than the rest of the notes, the writer’s hand less bold, as though he were shaking as he wrote these final words.
Jack the Ripper is no more, he’s gone, forever, and yet, I feel I am I no better than the monster himself? I swore an oath to save life, to preserve, not to destroy, I am naught but a wretched, squalid soul, as squalid as the streets he stalked in life, and will forever, I am sure haunt in death. I bequeath this legacy to those who follow me; judge me not too harshly, for justice may be blind, and I have acted for the best as I saw it at the time. I have despoiled my oath, his blood is mine, and that of those poor unfortunates, and I must bear what I have done within my heavy conscience and my aching heart for the rest of my days!
Jack the Ripper! I knew it, it had to be, just as surely as the page I’d just read had to have been written by my great grandfather. I knew from our family history that my great-grandfather had spent some time as a consulting psychiatric physician at the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum during the 1880s, and it now seemed that he’d been privy to knowledge that the rest of the world had been seeking for over a century, or, at least, he believed himself to have been. Yet, what did he mean by the references to his complicity, what action had he taken?
Another sip of scotch, more fire in my throat, and I was ready to take the next step. I had to see the journal, had to know what my great-grandfather knew. If he’d solved the mystery of the ripper murders, why hadn’t he revealed the truth? What could possibly have enticed him to keep silent about the most celebrated series of murders ever to strike at the heart of the great metropolis that was nineteenth century London? What part did he play in the tragedy, how could he, a respected physician and member of society have been complicit in the foul deeds perpetrated by Jack the Ripper? He was my great-grandfather after all, I refused at that point to believe that he could be in any way connected with the murders of those poor unfortunate women, and yet, in his own words, he’d stated that he could have stopped the Ripper. Again I asked myself, what could he have known, what could he have done? Looking at the loosely bound journal on the desk in front of me, I knew there was only one way I was going to find out!
‘Does violent death have a name? Can evil truly be born into the world, evil so deep that it is bred into the genetic make-up of an individual? Until I came to this place and met the man who made me begin to suspect that such an evil could exist, I’d have been as dismissive as most of my profession at the prospect of such a possibility… Dr. Ruth Truman, Psychiatrist.’
Porter’s book A Study in Red tells about the Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper. As the story goes, Robert Cavendish, who was a psychiatrist in modern day, received the journal from his father, who received it from his father, who received it from his father. The original Cavendish was also a psychiatrist who had a patient he found to be no other than the famous Jack the Ripper. Thus began the story of A Study in Red – The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper.
After Robert Cavendish’s death the journal was passed on to his nephew Jack Reid.
Upon receiving his “legacy” Jack’s life becomes twisted in what will be known by modern day London as the “The Brighton Ripper Case.” Murders are taking place following the same pattern as those of the original Jack the Ripper.
Wright and Holland have worked the case from the first murder. With the help of Alice Nickels, who is a “Ripperologist,” a plan is set to capture the modern day Ripper hopefully before he strikes again. This plan ends with the capture, trial and institutionalization of Jack Reid. But did he really commit these gruesome murders? If so, did he do it alone? He insists that there were others that actually set him up and committed the murders. He even admitted to having received the journal and to the effect reading it had upon him. The police believe the journal never existed but was instead a fixation of his distorted imagination. So after Jack’s removal from society and the murders ceasing, it appears that the police really have found and caught their man. But what happened to the journal and legacy? Will the present owner, whoever it might be, pick up where Jack supposedly left off? Read Legacy of the Ripper and find out for yourself. I think you will be as surprised as I was.
In the Beginning
In the year 1888, in what became known as ‘The Autumn of Terror’ a series of killings took place in the East End of London, which shook not only the people of the capital of the greatest empire the modern world has known, but reached into the lives of the population of the whole country as the murderer prowled at will through the dark, crime-ridden streets of Whitechapel, where he murdered and mutilated his victims, seemingly at will. The police appeared helpless in their search for this brazen and sadistic killer who history has recorded forever under the name by which he soon became known, Jack the Ripper!
As the body count grew, more and more police officers were assigned to the case and the largest manhunt England had ever seen was launched in a bid to bring the murderer to justice. Despite such action, and the questioning of dozens of potential suspects, no arrests were made in the case, and the speculation as to the identity of the Ripper began, and has continued to this day. Was he a single man, a loner, or could he have been a married man with a family of his own. Did he have children? Could his genes have been passed down by the heredity of birth through the years, thus allowing his descendants to walk among us, unknown and unknowing of their own ghastly and murderous heritage?
Many theories have been propounded over the years. Was he a doctor, a lunatic, a woman-hating member of the Jewish community, or was ‘Jack the Ripper’ a convenient cover name for a group of two or more killers operating as part of some great Masonic plot, or, perhaps the most outlandish theory of all, a member of the Royal family?
It’s likely that the identity of the world’s first officially recognised serial killer will remain a hidden secret, never to be revealed, and the only thing we can say for certain is that Jack the Ripper died a very long time ago, and thus his reign of terror ended with his passing…or did it?
My Name is Jack, A Statement by the Patient.
When did it start? That’s what they all want to know. Doctor Ruth is always asking me:
“When did it start? What are your earliest recollections of these feelings?”
I keep telling her the same as I’m telling you all now. It’s hard to put a time or a place on when it began, though I was young, very young, maybe four or five years old when I first realised I was ‘different’ to other children of my age. Even then I knew that my life was mapped out ahead of me, that I had a destiny to fulfil. At such a tender age, of course, it was impossible for me to comprehend what that destiny was. Only much later did I realise that I was being guided by a hand far more powerful than mine, one whose intelligence and guile was such that I had no doubts, when the time came, of the course of action I must take.
I was different you see, different from all of those children who made my life a misery, the ones who called me names because I didn’t want to join in their silly games, or take part in stupid group activities after school. When I was very young, I didn’t know that I held the power and the means within me to put an end to their taunting and name calling. Only when I reached the age of nine did I suddenly make a stand against those silly, laughing, taunting voices. That was the day when a group of children cornered me in the school playground, out of sight of the watchful teachers and playground assistants. Somehow, they’d heard about my regular visits to the child psychologist. My going in itself wasn’t a secret of course. They all knew that I had to attend regular doctor’s appointments, but, as happens from time to time, word spread around the school about the real reason for my appointments.
“Bloodsucker, Dracula, do you eat your meat raw, Jack Reid?” they shouted in a cacophony of screeching, childish screams.
“He’s a vampire, he sucks the blood from living cats, that’s what I’ve heard,” screeched Andrew Denning, one of the ringleaders of the haranguing group.
“You’re a weirdo, Reid, that’s what you are,” Camilla Hunt shouted in my face.
I’d had enough. As Denning came closer to scream in my face once again, I waited until he was within touching distance, and, quick as a flash, I grabbed my tormentor with both hands, one either side of his face, and pulled him close to me. He struggled as I bent my head to the side and the others screamed in panic, but no-one came to his aid as my teeth sunk deeply into his flesh, biting hard on the tender mass of sinews and muscle that made up his ear. That was when the loudest scream of all erupted, this time from Andrew Denning himself, as I pulled my head back from his to reveal a large chunk of his ear still stuck between my teeth. Blood pumped from the side of the boy’s head and the other children stood screaming, rooted to the spot in their fear and fascination. In seconds the sound of an adult voice could be heard shouting,
“What’s all this commotion? If you boys have been fighting I’ll….Oh my God! Jack! What have you done?”
Miss Plummer almost fainted on the spot, but, to her credit, she maintained her equilibrium enough to send two of the other children running for help. How she did it I can’t remember, but she made me open my mouth long enough for her to retrieve the bitten remains of Andrew Denning’s ear, which she quickly wrapped in a handkerchief she pulled from a pocket in the side of her skirt. The others were quickly dismissed and Miss Plummer stayed with me and Andrew, who continued to scream until another teacher arrived and escorted him away. Soon afterwards a car disappeared through the school gates carrying the injured boy to the hospital. I learned afterwards that the doctors had sewn what they could of his ear back together, but in truth it would never look right again, and Andrew Denning I’m sure will never forget our encounter. I say that because I only heard these things second-hand. After that incident the headmaster summoned my parents to the school and I was removed from that particular place of education and sent to what is laughingly called a ‘special school’, where children with ‘special needs’ are taught. I thought it odd at the time, that no-one really seemed to appreciate what my own peculiar ‘special needs’ were.
It wasn’t until much later that I would begin to realise just where my life was heading, and what I was destined to fulfil, just after my eighteenth birthday in fact, my ‘coming of age’ as they call it. That was when things really began to fall into place in my mind, and that is why you and all those who follow you, and Doctor Ruth especially, will never, ever forget me. I’m sorry, I’ve been remiss. Perhaps I should introduce myself before going any further. My name is Jack, Jack Thomas Reid, and this is the letter that began everything that transpired after that fateful day when I received my legacy from Uncle Robert.
To my dearest nephew, Jack,
This testament, the journal, and all the papers that accompany it are yours upon my death, as they became mine upon my father’s death. Your Aunt Sarah and I were never fortunate enough to have children of our own, so it is with a heavy heart that I write this note to accompany these pages. Had I any alternative, I would spare you the curse of our family’s deepest secret, or perhaps I should say, secrets! Having read what you are about to read, I had neither the courage to destroy it, nor to reveal the secrets contained within these pages. I beg you, as my father begged me, to read the journal and the notes that go with it, and be guided by your conscience and your intelligence in deciding what course of action to take when you have done so. Whatever you decide to do, dear nephew, I beg you, do not judge those who have gone before you too harshly, for the curse of the journal you are about to read is as real as these words I now write to you.
Be safe, Jack, but be warned.
Your loving uncle,
As for the rest, I suggest you go and talk to Doctor Ruth. She’s the expert after all.
A Career Move
Does violent death have a name? Can evil truly be born into the world, evil so deep that it is bred into the genetic make-up of an individual? Until I came to this place, and met the man who made me begin to suspect that such an evil could exist, I’d have been as dismissive as most of my profession at the prospect of such a possibility.
My name is Ruth Truman, and this, I suppose is my confession, my testament to the failure of all I’ve tried to do, of all I’ve stood for since the day I took the Hippocratic oath on becoming a physician, a healer, one who makes people better when they’re ill, who cures disease and puts a healthy smile back on the face of those who are beset by illness.
My career was always a fast track to the specialisation I’d chosen while at Medical School in London, and so, today, I’m a psychiatrist, and as such am charged with administering treatment to patients who suffer from some of the most dreadful and least understood diseases that afflict us as human beings, diseases of the mind. My career, until recently, has been one of unqualified success, as I rose through the ranks of my profession with almost indecent haste, becoming a senior consultant psychiatrist in one of our country’s largest teaching hospitals at the age of just forty one. My work with the most difficult of patients, and with those suffering from some of the lesser known but perhaps most interesting of psychiatric illnesses, in particular bipolar disease, more commonly known as manic depression and some of the more obscure dissociative disorders, led eventually to me being offered the post of Senior Consultant at one of the largest secure psychiatric hospital facilities in the United Kingdom. In this enlightened age of course, we now refer to such places as ‘Special Hospitals’ rather than the old institutional type of description which would once have been applied to such a facility.
No, in our politically-correct, pre-packaged, health and safety orientated nation of today, the word ‘asylum’ no longer has a place, and perhaps rightly so. Those who are incarcerated, or should I say treated in the hospital are no longer referred to as ‘inmates’ but are now simply ‘patients’. These patients, of course, by nature of the acts they committed that led to their confinement at Ravenswood, are some of the most dangerous individuals our society can produce. As such they must be treated with the utmost respect in terms of ensuring the safety of those who have to work in close proximity to the assorted rapists, murderers, arsonists and serial criminals of every variety whom the courts have chosen to label as being of unsound mind. Quite often, those patients can, of course, be a danger not only to those who must care for them, but also to their fellow inmates, er, sorry, patients, and occasionally to themselves. The number of incidences of attempted self-harm in a hospital such as Ravenswood are far higher than might be supposed by those on the outside. With the greatest of care and supervision that we can provide, a determined individual will always find a way to inflict grievous harm upon themselves, occasionally with fatal consequences. Such events are, thankfully, a rarity, as most patients are found and treated before they are able to complete the act of suicide.
This then, is the powder keg environment into which are cast a selection of the most damaged members of our society, mentally speaking. As doctors and nurses, the staff must be constantly vigilant and on their guard when dealing with such individuals, and while some achieve their goal of an eventual release from their incarceration in the hospital, others, not so lucky, may find themselves living out the long years of their natural lives within the confines of Ravenswood and other facilities of its kind. We have a number of other staff, not medically qualified, but who in any other similar environment might just be referred to as guards. These men and women are members of the prison service and assigned to take care of the additional security necessary for the calm and efficient running of such a high risk establishment. Without their presence, the ‘patients’ might just end up inflicting terrible harm on both staff and fellow inmates of the hospital, and pandemonium would reign.
The man whose tale I wish to relate, the man who has driven me to doubt the profession and the ethics that I have given my life to, shows no outward sign of being the proverbial monster, the thing of evil, the beast that I henceforth profess him to be. In truth, Jack Reid is one of the most handsome young men I have ever met. He has the good looks of youth, a cheerful and, at times, most charming disposition, and his fair hair and blue eyes, combined with his warm and gentle smile are such that the man is capable of ‘charming the birds from the trees’ to quote a much used colloquialism. At a little under six feet tall, he has the advantage of height over me, being a mere five feet two, but I have to admit that the towering young man has never used his size to try to intimidate me in any of our meetings. Jack Reid is politeness itself.
When I first arrived here, Jack had been a patient within these walls for just over a month. Not one of the three doctors who’d attempted to ‘connect’ with the sad and unhappy young man he was at that time had managed even a modicum of success. Jack Reid had been found guilty by reason of insanity of a series of three murders of innocent young women in and around the Brighton area. His barrister had successfully pleaded at the trial that, as Jack had no recollection of having committed the murders, which had been borne out by intensive pre-trail psychiatric examinations by a series of respected psychiatric consultants, then it would be impossible to convict him of ‘wilful’ murder. It was put forward by the prosecution that Jack had committed the murders whilst on a form of ‘fugue state’, almost a trance, or while undergoing a personality change wrought by a deep psychotic disorder, a severe schizoid episode. Jack’s story, however, was very different and regarded as being so improbable that no-one, least of all the police and the prosecution, gave much credence to it at the time. That story, incredible though it may appear at times, forms the basis of much that I wish to record here.
A ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ plea was rejected by the judge, who directed the jury to disregard any such option when arriving at their verdict. Jack Reid, although apparently having no knowledge of his actions at the time he’d committed the slayings, was sufficiently aware of his crimes that he did all he could to cover up the murders after committing each of the killings. He said, and the psychiatrists who examined him believed him sufficiently to accept this, that he’d woken as if from a dream at each of the death scenes, and, knowing that he must be the one responsible for the scenes of mayhem he encountered, and not wanting to be caught and punished he therefore did his best to evade the due process of law. At other times he contradicted this story, saying that he didn’t kill the girls, that someone else was responsible, which is where the most elaborate and unbelievable part of his story came in, and which we will focus on quite soon. This illogical and a times pitiful changing from one story to another probably helped the judge to decide there was enough evidence regarding the accused mental state that a conviction could be made on the grounds stated by the prosecution counsel, and the jury agreed.
How could a man commit such crimes and yet have no knowledge of them, while at the same time take all reasonable steps to avoid apprehension and prosecution? Something about the case of Jack Reid caused sufficient consternation for him to be committed to Ravenswood, the most secure and technologically modern hospital of its kind in the United Kingdom. It was hoped the medical staff here would be able to get to the bottom of this strange and chilling case, and that of course is where I entered the picture.
The Director of Medical Services at Ravenswood, Doctor Andrew Pike, solicited my services with a well-timed approach some weeks before my first meeting with Jack. I’d grown tired of my post at a leading London teaching hospital and was ready for a new challenge. When a friend of mine who’d been privy to one of my long and boring lectures over lunch on the need for a change of career direction met Pike at a psychiatric conference a few days after I’d shot my mouth off, and Pike had told him of the impending retirement of his senior consultant, Paul suggested that Pike speak to me about the vacancy. After a telephone call from the Director, and an interview that was little more than a social meeting between the two of us, Pike offered me the position and I, flattered by the confidence he apparently had in my abilities, graciously accepted my new role. I really felt that I could make a difference, and perhaps bring a new dimension to the treatment of what at one time would have been described as the ‘criminally insane’ although such phrases are frowned upon in these enlightened times.
It took me only a couple of weeks to make the necessary arrangements for my move to Ravenswood, and to find a beautiful country cottage to rent a mere five miles from the facility. I left my flat in London in the hands of an agent to handle the task of renting it out for me, ensuring that the property would at least be occupied, and the sum of money I received each month would more than cover the rent on my picturesque cottage in the beautiful village of Langley Mead. My employers at the hospital were reluctant to accept my resignation, but there was nothing they could do to prevent me taking up my new post, and thus I found myself within the walls of Ravenswood far sooner than I I’d thought possible.
It was April, and the tulips and daffodils were in full bloom in the flower bed positioned just outside the large picture window of my office on the ground floor of Pavlov wing, named in honour of Ivan Pavlov, to whom we owe much by way of our knowledge of modern-day behavioural psychology. A veritable plethora of colours, vibrant reds and yellows, tinged with a few pastel shades of pink and off-white gave the little flower bed the appearance of being awash with far more blooms than were actually planted within it. The illusion created by nature wasn’t lost on my logical mind. If the very plants that spring from the earth can cause us to doubt the reality of a situation, then how much cleverer are those whose minds have developed the most warped and misleading codes of ethics, and who would do all in their power to mislead and misdirect those of us who seek to understand them? The irony of the situation was that, although the flowers were free to bend in the breeze and to soak up the life-giving rays of the sun that gave them sustenance, my new patients were, like me, locked securely within the structures that comprise the hospital, away from the sunlight, in safe and secure isolation. Even the window to my office was fitted with bars in the inside, and alarmed to prevent unauthorised opening of the narrow ventilator slits at the top. Even on a hot and stifling day, the window itself didn’t open. Those of us incarcerated with our patients within those walls had to count on the air conditioning to maintain a comfortable environment. It is with those strictures in mind that it is, I suppose, possible to be envious of a tulip.
My new secretary Tess Barnes entered my office, smiled a good morning greeting and placed a large pile of patient folders in my in-tray. She paused for a moment before leaving me and as I looked up I could see he was eager to speak.
“Yes, Tess, what is it? If you have something to say please get used to the fact that I’m not an ogre of any sort of description. Feel free to talk to me any time you like.”
“I’m sorry, Doctor Truman,” she replied. “I wasn’t sure how busy you are. It’s just that Doctor Roper asked me to ensure that you looked at the file on the top of that pile. He thinks, with respect, that you might want to take personal charge of that particular patient.”
“Okay, Tess, that’s no problem. I’ll look at it straight away if he thinks it so important.”
“Thank you, Doctor,” she said, and with that she turned on her heel and left my office, closing the door quietly behind her.
Alone once more, I reached out to the in-tray and picked up the file designated as of special interest to me by Doctor Roper, who I remembered meeting a couple of times in the previous two days. He seemed a pleasant and affable man, and gave off an air of confidence and calm reassurance, the perfect demeanour for a psychiatrist. Wondering what he thought was so important about the file that he’d asked my secretary to specifically direct me to it, I placed the beige folder on my desk and looked at the name on the cover of the patient file before me. There, in a neat and ordered handwriting were written just three words.
The file was that of Jack Thomas Reid!
In the Beginning
Reading the file that had been left so invitingly upon my desk, I soon found myself drawn into the life of the young man whose future treatment, and to some extent, his life from now on had effectively been placed in my hands
Jack Reid had been born to doting parents in the year nineteen ninety six. Tom and Jennifer Reid were what could perhaps be termed an ‘average’ middle-class couple, with the husband being a respected if a little eccentrically minded computer engineer. Tom Reid worked for a company that specialised in the production of state-of-the-art military hardware for the British Armed Forces.
Young Jack had lived a relatively happy and conventional childhood, though by the age of ten he had developed a marked and quite disturbing preoccupation with the sight of blood. His parents, understandably disturbed by their son’s rather macabre interest, took him to a number of different child psychologists and psychiatrists. Tom’s own cousin Robert, the boy’s official second-cousin, but always referred to as ‘uncle’, had been a psychiatrist until his death from the effects of a brain tumour in nineteen ninety eight, and though Jack had been too young to know his uncle at the time of his death, Tom had always held hopes that his son might follow either in the footsteps of himself or his late cousin. The manifestations of his young son’s mind seemed to preclude the second possibility however, as Tom realised that something far from normal was taking place within the cognitive sections of his son’s brain. Far from ever becoming a psychiatrist, it looked as if Jack could well find himself permanently under the care of one.
That being said, both Tom and Jennifer Reid loved their son dearly and no expense was spared in their choice of the physicians they selected to try and elicit the best care and potential cure for Jack’s odd predilections. Though initially they’d relied on the resources of their own G.P. and the local NHS hospital to care for their son, it soon became clear to them that the overstretched resources of the National Health Service would never provide either short or long term relief for their son’s condition, nor would the ministrations of a general practitioner with limited knowledge of psychiatric disorders. They made the expensive decision to seek private care for Jack.
Thankfully, Tom’s job with Beaumont Industries provided them with a more than adequate income, and though the family’s finances were at times stretched to breaking point, Jack was soon under the care of both a child psychologist, a Doctor Simon Guest, and a psychiatrist, Doctor Faye Roebuck. Between them the two noble members of my profession did their best for the young boy. Both concluded that Jack suffered from a personality disorder, but one which, with treatment, could be controlled and eventually eradicated. Their methods differed, of course, as befitted their different fields of medicine. As a psychiatrist, Doctor Roebuck had tried to work her way into the mind of young Jack, and attempted to control his urges by placing him a regime of medications that she hoped would temper his unusual desires and feelings. Doctor Guest, on the other hand, tried simply to identify anything in the boy’s background or home life and upbringing that might have led him to his unusual fixations. He spent hours talking to Jack and his parents and despite finding little to suggest that anything in his environment had caused Jack’s aberrant behaviour, tried to instil a new and regimented system of life upon the young man in the hope that continuity and stability in his daily life could be used as a tool to regulate and control Jack’s feelings, to clarify things in his young mind, and slowly bring about a change in his mental attitudes resulting in a healthier and more rational outlook by the boy.
Years of treatment followed, and appeared to have been successful when at the age of fourteen Jack was considered well enough to leave the special school to which he’d been allocated after the incident at his junior school, once more to enter the world of regular education, this time at the local Comprehensive school where he settled in nicely and with no further incidents of violence. Jack seemed happy and well-adjusted, and his doctors, and more especially his parents, breathed a sigh of relief.
The teenaged Jack was a popular boy, and his circle of friends thought highly of him. He was academically bright and excelled on the sports field, being a capable footballer and an excellent wicket-keeper and batsman on the cricket pitch. Indeed, so adept was he at the game of cricket that he was selected for the local county schools association team, playing in competitions with other county associations. Jack eventually left school with a clutch of GCSE examination passes to his name, and moved onto the local college, where he began a course in graphic design, hoping to qualify and become a book illustrator. Halfway through his first year at college however his focus changed and without warning he gave up his studies and found himself a job as a trainee nurse at his local hospital.
His parents were at first horrified at the thought that his close proximity to the sick and infirm, and more especially to his being exposed to almost daily exposure to those suffering from open, bleeding wounds, might bring about a recurrence of his earlier problems. Jack was able to mollify them, however, when he explained that one of his friends from college, a young woman no less, had also begun the self-same nursing course. As Jack put it to his parents, he had already received enough treatment from the health services and, as a qualified nurse, he would be able to give something back to the system that had helped cure him of his earlier childhood affliction.
His mother was quite delighted to think that her son had become so responsible and mature in his outlook on life, but his father proved a little more sceptical about the whole affair and decided to reserve judgement on his son’s sudden change of career path. Hindsight would apparently prove his reservations to be well-founded.
Initially, though, all appeared well and Jack was a diligent student, attentive to his teachers and scrupulous in his studies. All of his written work was handed in on time and his ‘hands-on’ practical work under supervision on the wards was reported as being exemplary. In his first six months, Jack Reid earned a reputation as a model student, and his nurse tutors reported in writing that he would, in time, become an excellent and valued member of the nursing profession.
As his eighteenth birthday approached Jack presented himself for his first official assessment of his training. After receiving a glowing report from all of his tutors he returned home that evening to inform his parents that he was considered to be one of the top two students on his course. His mother and father were elated at the news and agreed that at last they could feel a real sense of pride in their son’s achievements. Even his previously sceptical father felt sufficiently pleased to crack open a bottle of his very best Chablis, which the small family of three consumed with delight over dinner that evening.
Over dinner his mother tried to draw him to speak on the subject of the girl who’d enticed him to join her in the nursing fraternity. Jennifer thought that if perhaps a relationship was developing between Jack and the girl, she might consider inviting her son’s new friend, his first girlfriend as she put it, to dinner one evening. Jack, however, had totally rebuffed any questions from his mother on the subject. Apart from telling his parents that the girl’s name was Anna, that she was nowhere near as clever as he was and not worth investing any more of his time in her, she became a closed subject. Jennifer Reid was disappointed, believing that if her son could achieve some sort of normal relationship with a member of the opposite sex, it would be another step towards his total rehabilitation from his earlier, juvenile problems. Perhaps, in the light of events that were soon to follow, Jack’s failure to cement any sort of relationship with Anna, who would later testify at his trial, was a blessing in disguise.
Two weeks after that first assessment Jack reached his eighteenth birthday. His parents had asked if he would like to invite any of his friends or fellow students to a celebratory dinner at a local restaurant, but Jack declined the offer. A meal with his parents would be enough, so he informed them. Sadly, his parents, tutors, and fellow students had failed to recognise the gradually expanding bubble of isolation in which Jack was cocooning himself. Something had occurred within his mind that saw him withdraw more and more into himself, and though his studies hadn’t become affected, the once gregarious and popular student began to shut himself off from those around him.
Later, statements from his parents would confirm that the evening of Jack’s eighteenth birthday was perhaps the last really happy occasion they enjoyed together as a family. Though not particularly talkative, Jack had been in a fairly bright and happy frame of mind and grateful to his parents for the gold watch they’d bought for him to celebrate his birthday. The back of the watch had been engraved with the words, To Jack T Reid with much love on your eighteenth birthday, Mum and Dad. Jack loved it, and the evening of his birthday meal passed off amicably and with much good humour in the Reid household. No-one could have foreseen what lay ahead, just beyond time’s immediate horizon.
For now though all was well, at least on the surface, and it wasn’t until the Reids received notification through Tom’s late cousin’s solicitor that a package was being held in trust for their son, to be given to him after he’d reached his eighteenth birthday, that events escalated towards the calamity that awaited the family.
From the day the family visited the solicitor and the package was placed in the hands of their son, no-one’s lives would ever be the same again. A seed had been planted that was about to bear fruit, and for Jack Thomas Reid, the ripening of that seed would prove to be the harbinger of his own downfall, and the precursor to murder. The storm was about to be unleashed!
Naya was afraid. She didn’t want to stay in this hospital. She thought it seemed different from the other, regular hospitals, even though she had never stayed in any sort of hospital before. This hospital didn’t seem at all like the hospital her classmate had described after having her tonsils removed. Besides, Naya didn’t even feel sick.’
The hospital Naya has been admitted to is the psychiatric section of the Newbury hospital. Naya was taken to the hospital’s emergency room after what her parents believed to be a suicide attempt. What would cause a 7 year old to attempt a jump off the balcony of her room? That’s what Dr. Peter Gram must find out before she tries it again.
While working with Naya, Dr. Gram finds that while sleeping, Naya goes into a trance like state. In her dreams she carries on conversations with someone that only she can see. Upon waking, Naya draws pictures of her dreams including the person she talks with. In one of her pictures she draws an elephant and a young girl who’s body has been dismembered. When Dr. Gram questions Naya about the picture she tells him about the girl, the conversation she had with her and the even the girl’s name. But what do these disturbing pictures mean and who is the girl?
In an area not far from the hospital, 5th grader Janet Troy is missing. When her book bag is found on the property of Senator Thomas Bailey, the FBI sends in their best agent Leia Bines to direct the search. When Agent Bines and Dr. Gram come together they discover a connection between Janet and Naya’s drawings giving them the clues needed to hopefully find out what happened to the missing Janet.
A Circle of Souls was not only a book that kept my attention from beginning to end but also a book that enlightened me in the care of children in the psychiatric units of these special hospitals. And who better to write this story than a doctor devoted to the care of these special children… Dr. Preetham Grandhi