The action of this novella picks up nearly seven years after the end of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by R. L. Stevenson. The book is told from the point of view of Jekyll’s honorable, devoted lawyer, Mr. Gabriel Utterson. Just as time is about to elapse on officially declaring alter-ego Hyde dead, a man shows up claiming to be Jekyll. But Hyde was Jekyll… and Hyde was most certainly dead.
He has details and mannerisms like Jekyll. Many of his old acquaintances claim he is the missing man. Yet, Utterson is unconvinced. As he visits Jekyll’s closest friends and relatives, looking for a fellow doubter who will stand up to the imposter, the potential naysayers begin to die — one by one.
A storehouse of indian tea near the river had caught fire, the air was filled with fragrant smoke, and flurries of roasted leaves, like clouds of black pollen, were settling on every projection.
Hudson Spurlock, looking remarkably at home in a filthy broadcloth tunic and moleskins, had already warned Utterson he would not be lingering after the job was done: ‘I’ve got no love for Newgate,’ he said. The two men were lurks in the shadows across the square from the Jekyll home, waiting for the house lights to dim, retreating deep into the darkness whenever constables appeared, peeking out whenever it was safe, puffing, stamping, and waving away the thickening drizzles of aromatic ash. But it was not until midnight that the last light in the place was extinguished, and even then Spurlock did not move at once. ‘A thief’s most important tool is patience,’ he whispered. ~Loc. 1054
The book is short, like its inspiration. In this case, it is almost too short. The story reaches a fever pitch and then ends rather abruptly. Where the book really shines is in the stylistic prose. O’Neill is admirable in finding the right voice and tone for the Victorian mystery with a delicious twist.
My thanks to Lina at Black and White Publishing for the e-galley.
DR. JEKYLL & MR. SEEK
By Anthony O’Neill
Publisher: Black and White Publishing (1 Sept. 2017) in UK
Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.9 x 5.2 inches