There's a blurb on the front cover of my copy of Jackaby that describes it as Sherlock Holmes crossed with the Buffy Slayer. Its two principle characters, R. F. Jackaby and Miss Abigail Rook are clearly inspired by Sherlock Holmes and there's enough of the supernatural thrown in to make the Buffy comparison fitting. Jackaby is the quirky detective who is always ten steps ahead of everyone else. His "Watson" is a young lady named Miss Rook. She has a thirst for adventure, having recently run away from home to chase dinosaurs and excitement. Miss Rook also has a talent noticing the ordinary and deducing details about a person or a situation, much like the legendary detective. Jackaby, in turn, has a talent for noticing the extraordinary. Of course, most of the townspeople think Jackaby is mad, or at least a little odd. It doesn't help that he has tendency to speak bluntly and without tact. Miss Rook is warned more than once against taking a job as Jackaby's assistant. But newly arrived in New Fiddleham and short on funds, Miss Rook can't afford to turn down the job. Even better, she finds she quite enjoys it! How could she not when her first mystery brings her fact to face with a banshee, a goblin, and other mystical creatures.
Jackaby was so much fun! It took just enough inspiration from Sherlock and then did something new with it. Hands down my favorite character is Miss Rook. I loved how independent and brave she is. Everyone, especially the men and even Jackaby, warn her that detective work is too much for the female temperament. Miss Rook makes it clear to them how she feels about that, standing her ground and proving herself to be more than capable of the job.
I would recommend this to anyone interested in historical mysteries with a paranormal twist. I know Mr. Ritter has written another book with these characters and a novella/short story. I hope there is more to come.