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Spotlight: Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil

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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?


THE SULTRY FRIDAY evening had enticed the inhabitants of the Irish Channel out of doors, and young Liam gamely maneuvered between men, women, donkeys, and dogs as he led Fanny and Olive through the soft darkness. Fanny had never been in this direction from Wisdom Hall, and quickly inventoried the new landscape: the battered old mansions that were as large and imposing as Wisdom Hall; the tall brick warehouses that were built almost into the streets; the slight shotgun houses that seemed to sink into the soft soil; and…was that a church steeple?

After five blocks and one near-miss with a pair of drunken roughs, Liam pointed toward a swelling of gaslight coming from between two saloons. “There!”

As Liam led the women forward, Fanny saw dozens of men and women crowded together, staring into the dimly lit space between the saloons. Just beyond the crowd, the doors and windows of both saloons were pinned open to the warm evening. Lights bounced from lamp to mirror in the saloons, illuminating tables of card players, drinkers, and the women who entertained them.

Conner’s Court, New Orleans, America ~ Irish Only was painted in broad strokes on a wall. Even from the calmness of her father’s downtown law office, Fanny had heard about Conner’s Court, a well-known enclave of New Orleans’ depravity. Could it really be as evil as it was reputed to be?

Liam grabbed Olive’s arm and plowed through a hole in the crowd. Fanny followed, but Olive turned and commanded, “Not you; this is doctor’s work.”

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About the Author

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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.

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