I stumbled on Jackaby at a book signing that I was doing in Winchester, Va. A placard described it as Doctor Who meets Sherlock Holmes. Being a fan of both Doctor Who and the Sherlock, I was intrigued. I thought my youngest son would enjoy it since he is even a bigger Doctor Who than I am. I bought him a copy since I keep trying to get him to read more when all he wants to do is play Five Nights at Freddy’s.
I still don’t think he has read the book, but I bought a ebook novella about R. F. Jackaby called The Map. I really enjoyed that story so I decided not to wait for my son to give me his opinion of the book. I decided to read it.
I loved it. It is definitely a cross between Doctor Who and Sherlock, and you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Abigail Rook, a young woman who comes to New Fiddleham in New England looking for work in 1892.
She meets R. F. Jackaby, a quirky individual to say the least. He is in need of an assistant. All of his previous assistants have quit on him, except the for the one that was turned into a duck. Yes, a duck.
Jackaby investigates the supernatural, unexplained and unusual. He understands the supernatural and can see mythical creatures that most others can’t. However, sometimes, he’s not so good about the details.
That’s where Abigail comes in. She catches the details at a crime scene. Together, they begin to work together to solve a series of murders that Jackaby believes is leading to something much larger. They are aided by a young detective named Charlie Cane, who has his own secret to hide.
The similarities to Sherlock Holmes are easy to spot. Detective and assistant, who tells the story. Victorian era setting, although this story is in America. Attention to details, although Abigail has this talent.
The Doctor Who similarity comes from Jackaby’s personality. As I read the book, I couldn’t help but picture Matt Smith’s performance as The Doctor. I could even picture Jackaby dressed as The Doctor did in the Christmas special episode “The Snowmen.” The Doctor also has clever assistants who are generally females. Plus, the supernatural monsters are more the style of Doctor Who.
Jackaby is a fun story filled with action and mystery in a very unusual, yet familiar world. I will say, guessing who the killer was, wasn’t that hard, though I had no idea what the killer was.
Besides this book and the short story, there is also a sequel that I haven’t read yet and a third book on the way so Jackaby is turning into a nice series that I will be following.