"Blue Serge" is a new short story of mine, which has just appeared in an anthology compiled by the tireless Maxim Jakubowski. The title of the collection, published by Robinson, is The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories, and the numerous other contributors include Barbara Nadel, Peter Guttridge, and Michael Gregoriou.
My story has a connection with a real life case other than the Ripper murders - the almost equally famous case of Hawley Harvey Crippen, and features one of the leading characters from the Crippen case. I've long been intrigued by both cases, and I really enjoyed writing this particular story.
I tried to stick to the facts of the Ripper case so far as they are known, but in an afterword to the story, I explain that the part of it which pins villainy on a particular person is very much the product of my imagination. That individual is long gone, and I don't think anyone would have a moment's doubt that this is a work of fiction, solely intended to entertain. I'm conscious, however, that stories often represent long-dead people as misbehaving in all sorts of ways which have in fact been invented. To my mind, it's important to spell out the fact that they have been invented. Otherwise - especially in film screenplays which claim to be faithful to the facts, but which actually take liberties with them - reputations can be posthumously damaged without cause.
My thanks go to Maxim Jakubowski, who has edited a great many anthologies and included stories written by me in quite a number of them. Unless you've edited an anthology yourself, you tend to under-estimate how much hard work is involved. I take my hat off to the likes of Maxim and Mike Ashley, and in the US Otto Penzler, who have produced so many anthologies of such high calibre. Long may they continue to do so.