Friday, February 16, 2018

Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil - #review #giveaway

Gilded Age New Orleans is overrun with prostitutes, pornographers, and a malicious Jack the Ripper copycat. As threatening letters to newspaper editors proclaim, no woman is safe from his blade.

Desperate to know who murdered her favorite student, ambitious typewriting teacher Fanny Newcomb launches into a hunt for the self-proclaimed Irish Channel Ripper.

Fanny quickly enlists her well-connected employers—Principal Sylvia Giddings and her sister Dr. Olive—to help, and the women forge through saloons, cemeteries, slums, and houses of prostitution in their pursuit.

Fanny’s good intentions quickly infuriate her longtime beau Lawrence Decatur, while her reckless persistence confounds the talented police detective Daniel Crenshaw. Reluctantly, Lawrence and Daniel also lend their investigative talents to Fanny’s investigation.

As the murderer sets a date for his next heinous crime, can Fanny Newcomb and her crew stop the Irish Channel Ripper before he kills again?



I love a good class struggle in my fiction, and historical fiction set in the Gilded Age seems to be strewn with such struggles, no matter where specifically it is set.  I've read several set in New England, and now Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil, set in New Orleans.

When Fanny's father (a lawyer of some renown) dies, she is faced with either marrying the surviving partner (Lawrence) or getting a job.  She gets a job teaching at a school Sylvia Giddings and her sister have set up to help young women living in the "Irish Channel" section of New Orleans prepare for jobs other than becoming a domestic servant or entering the world's oldest profession.

Many of the city's Protestant citizens have very definite ideas about those living in the Irish Channel:  they're Irish (saw that one coming, didn't you?), Catholic, drunks and the women are prostitutes.  In other words, they're 'not us'; and 'not us' is bad or inferior.  Part of me would like to go slap some folks upside the head and say, "Snap out of it!"  But that would only 'make the whole world blind and toothless', as Gandhi said.

Fanny is in the Irish Channel one night when the body of a young woman is found.  Sylvia Giddings' sister, Olive, a woman doctor (*gasp*) is called to the scene and I believe declares it a strangling.  World on the street is the woman was a prostitute.  Fanny thinks it's a mistake, because the woman found dead was a promising student at her school, not a prostitute!

Then something funny (as in funny strange) happens.  For the official autopsy, the cause of death is listed as large knife wounds to the trunk and neck, a la Jack the Ripper.  But there's the problem that Olive's declared cause of death differed so greatly.  (Things that make you say, Hmmm, right?) And apparently someone has written to the newspaper claiming to be the Irish Channel Ripper and saying he wasn't finished yet.

Fanny starts investigating, for the sake of justice for her student.  This leads to her being physically assaulted in an all-but-abandoned Irish Channel building.  But what really got my back up was that the 'unsub' locked her in an apartment and set a fire to kill her AND a group of blind men who happened to be in the room with her.  Luckily, Fanny was up to that challenge.

Unfortunately, Fanny finds out the address the student gave for her home...was a brothel.  And she found several 'photos of an intimate nature' in the bedroom - which revealed a possible new motive for the murder.  Was the death Ripperesque or was it in a struggle to control the pornography produced in the area?

Fanny has several more breathlessly close-close calls while trying to figure out what she wants her relationship to Lawrence to be like, as well as worrying (with Sylvia and Olive) that the school might close if students were too afraid to attend.

This book featured several feisty female characters who wanted to have an impact on the world around them and not just react to things other people (men) did.  They did have some support in the community, but it was far from universal.

So if you are a fan of feisty females, New Orleans, the Gilded Age, and/or well-written mysteries, Fanny Newcome and the Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil should be in your collection.  And make some room - because this is one in a series of books!



A native of California, Ana Brazil lived in the south for many years. She earned her MA in American history from Florida State University and traveled her way through Mississippi as an architectural historian. Ana loves fried mullet, Greek Revival colonnades, and Miss Welty’s garden. She has a weakness for almost all things New Orleans. (Although she’s not sure just how it happened…but she favors bluegrass over jazz.)

The Fanny Newcomb stories celebrate the tenacity, intelligence, and wisdom of the dozens of courageous and outrageous southern women that Ana is proud to call friends.

Although Ana, her husband, and their dog Traveller live in the beautiful Oakland foothills, she is forever drawn to the lush mystique of New Orleans, where Fanny Newcomb and her friends are ever prepared to seek a certain justice.

For more information, please visit Ana Brazil’s website and blog. You can also find her on FacebookPinterest and Goodreads.




Click on the banner above to go to the tour page, where you will find links to more reviews of this title.  You can also find out how to become a blog host for future book tours while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review.)


This book helps me fulfill the following 2018 reading challenges:


  1. Thanks so much for hosting Ana's Blog Tour & giveaway! I am so glad that you enjoyed the read! I loved it!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

  2. "But what really got my back up was that the 'unsub' locked her in an apartment and set a fire to kill her AND a group of blind men who happened to be in the room with her."
    This part creeped me out! The description in this scene is just like something we might see on an episode of C.S.I. ;)
    Enjoyed your review!