There was a pain, a terrible empty, lonely ache of sorrow and loss, within my ribcage while my heart felt like it had turned to ashes. This then was the end of my journey, this then was the answer that I had sought for so long, this then was the secret that Whitechapel had been withholding from me.
Alice Redmayne, beautiful daughter of a famous artist, has been haunted since childhood by the mysterious disappearance of her sister Beatrice but when she resolves to discover what happened all those years ago she finds herself enmeshed in the dark secrets of the past and caught between two very different men.
Emma Johnson was working in a brothel in Calais when a terrible mistake turned her whole world upside down and forced her to go on the run to Whitechapel. There she believes herself safe from the horrors of the past until her pursuer reveals his murderous intent and puts everyone she holds dear at risk.
Cora Lee is the youngest daughter of a H Division Sergeant, living above the Whitechapel Police Station on Commercial Street. Bored with her life and longing to escape, she makes a split second decision that will change everything.
Set against the infamous Jack the Ripper murders of autumn 1888, From Whitechapel is a dark and sumptuous tale of bittersweet love, friendship, loss and redemption.
I’ve been a Ripperologist, taking a decidedly feminist slant on the murders in that I focus on the victims and not the culprit, since I was fourteen and got caught up with the utterly bizarre fuss that surrounded the centenary of the Whitechapel Murders in 1988. Although I was born in the Scottish Highlands, my mother’s family came from the East End of London and so I’d always felt a special connection to the Whitechapel area and indeed have for a long time considered myself to be a ‘cultural Cockney’ albeit one in exile.
This book was probably always inevitably going to happen, considering my deep interest in the case, but came into full and proper being after I discovered a few years ago that my great-great-great grandfather was a Sergeant in Whitechapel’s H Division in 1888 and was very likely involved in some way with the case – certainly he was based at the Commercial Street station and would have known Abberline and Reid among others. When I found out that he lived with his family in the police quarters behind the station I inevitably found myself wondering what life must have been like for his adolescent daughters to be living at the very heart of the Whitechapel Murders and those rather morbid ponderings eventually took flight and became the basis of this book, whose heroine Cora is based on one of my own ancestral aunts, Clara Lee, who was born in Poplar on the 15th of December 1865 and lived to the grand old age of ninety before dying in April 1956 in Whipps Cross Hospital.