The Jekyll Legacy

~ A Novel by Andre Norton

Written with Robert Bloch


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The Jekyll Legacy

 

 

Synopsis ~

Write-up from an old Amazon.com posting ~

Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of the great masterpieces of psychological horror - and a hard act to follow. Though interesting, this odd hybrid isn't quite up to the challenge. Hester Lane is the "missing" Jekyll's niece and heir to his fortune. Hyde's body is missing from his grave - is it possible the awful creature is still alive? While Stevenson's story still holds suspense even though readers know the ending, this "sequel" doesn't build up any tension or sense of dread until the final quarter. Much of the book focuses on Hester's introduction to the now-familiar street life of 19th-century London. By the time the mayhem starts, it's almost too late. Suffice it to say that the conclusion is typical Bloch: contrived, a little silly, but undeniably amusing and clever. The best thing the publication of this and other Jekyll-inspired books might do is to get people to read the fascinating original.

 

Write-up from an Ebay posting ~

Giving Dr. Jekyll a niece to inherit his estate and dread secret, veteran storytellers Bloch ( Lori ) and Norton ( Dare to Go A-Hunting ) build a tale about the horrors inflicted on Victorian London's poor and helpless. Orphaned and nearly penniless, Hester Lane comes from Canada to London and applies for a job on the British Lady , a mildly radical publication that combines society chitchat with social commentary. Over the objections of the editor's nephew, rising young politician Albert Prothore, Hester is assigned to cover the despised Salvation Army but writes instead about Gertrude Kirby, who takes in abused and abandoned children from the noisome city streets. Her article rejected, on the verge of despair, she is summoned to an attorney's office, where long-lost documents disclose her relationship to the infamous doctor. She goes to live in Jekyll's house, taking with her two of Mrs. Kirby's waifs. But strange and unpleasant events follow, including murder, and Hester and Albert join forces to solve the crimes. While lacking the power of the Robert Louis Stevenson work, this lively historical romance cum mystery provides a realistic view into the dichotomies of Victorian England.

 

Write-up from the front flap of the 1990 dustjacket ~

Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde.
Recent years have seen a renewal of fascination with these dark figures—and a steady stream of re-tellings of Stevenson’s original tale.
The Jekyll Legacy is not a recreation of that classic but a brand-new sequel written by two master storytellers: Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, and Andre Norton, Life magazines grande dame of Science Fiction.
Hester Lane, recently arrived in Victorian London, eagerly accepts a potentially dangerous assignment for a fashionable ladies’ magazine. She is to report on the newly-formed Salvation Army, an organization attracting much attention—and much trouble—in London's slums.
When her article is rejected, the penniless Hester fears that she will soon need the help of the strong-willed women of the Army: Captain Ellison, whose composure remains intact in the midst of a street brawl; and Mrs. Kirby, a wealthy matron who trains former prostitutes as household servants.
Then a newspaper advertisement leads Hester to the offices of Mr. Utterson, solicitor to the missing-and-presumed-dead Henry Jekyll, where Hester is revealed to be the doctor's long-lost niece... and only heir.
Amazed at her good fortune, Hester is shocked to learn that her visit to Utterson's office has made her the prime suspect in Jekyll’s disappearance! Inspector Newcomen of Scotland Yard is convinced that she conspired with Hyde to murder Jekyll and has carried through their plans to claim the estate despite Hyde's apparent death.
Hester’s attempts to adjust to her new life of wealth and leisure are closely watched. Jekyll’s servants are suspicious; Inspector Newcomen follows her everywhere, waiting for a fatal error; even her friends from the Salvation Army seem distant.
In Dr. ]ekyll’s abandoned lab a light flickers briefly. A mysterious, misshapen figure glares at Hester from the shadows. Are its burning eyes those of Dr. Jekyll... or Mr. Hyde?

 

Write-up from the back of paperback edition ~

Mr. Hyde is dead – Or is he?

When Hester Lane arrives in England. She swiftly discovers her true identity as Hester Jekyll, niece of the respected Dr. Henry Jekyll. But the inheritance she thought she could claim easily proves to be elusive… the friends she thought she had made are suddenly untrustworthy and aloof… and she finds herself entangled in the frightening mystery of her uncle’s past. And as a series of brutal deaths begins and Hester is haunted by a dark, terrifying figure, she is forced to ask a new question:

Have we truly seen the last of Dr. Jekyll … or Mr. Hyde?

 

Write-ups from fans ~

Hester Lane comes to London seeking a livelihood, since her father has dies and selfishly left no provision for her, and had her educated only to help him in his research.  Her one "legacy" from her father is a book of Greek poetry--printed in the native Greek, naturally--with a newspaper clipping hidden in it.  The clipping is an advertisement for the "discovery of one Leonard Jekyll, or his descendants."  Since she did not think her father would have saved it if not in some way relevant, she contacts the lawyer who inserted the ad, and discovers that she is the missing heiress to the Jekyll Estate.  While the investigation is going on, Hester seeks employment with a ladies' magazine publisher and contacts the early Salvation Army group; she also becomes involved with a woman purporting to train young orphan girls as housemaids--actually selling them into prostitution, though.  After she is proved to be the heiress, it begins to seem that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde aren't dead after all, since the same style of brutal murders have started up again. ~ SL

 

Robert Bloch, a longtime friend of the great lady, teams up with her to pen a sequel to R.L. Stevenson's classic tale of horror--"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". This is set in Victorian London
Hester Lane was born and reared in Canada. Her mother died when Hester was young. After her father died, she traveled to London as a chaperone to a young lady. When she was dismissed from her post, she started to work at a ladies' magazine. Her first assignment was a report on the newly-formed Salvation Army, a dangerous subversive group meeting in the worst parts of London. After a hair-raising adventure, she writes her article and is told that it as garbage and that she was out of a job.
A personal ad leads her to the law offices of Mr. Utterson, solicitor to the missing and presumed dead Dr. Henry Jekyll. He finds documents showing that her real name is Jekyll and that she is heiress to the Jekyll fortune. But--also in the office is Inspector Newcomen who is obsessed with finding the missing Jekyll and now considers Hester to be the prime suspect. As she tries to settle down into her new life, the suspicious inspector, her nervous servants and mysterious break-ins of Dr. Jekyll's Laboratory and sudden brutal deaths of two people connected to Jekyll have her nerves on edge. Then, on top of all that, Mr. Hyde's corpse is missing from his grave. Just before his murder, Utterson told Hester that Jekyll and Hyde were the same person, something that he never told Inspector Newcomen. ~ PG

 

KIRKUS REVIEW ~ Kirkus Reviews Issue: 1990
Mock-Victorian sequel to the Stevenson classic, by the author of Psycho and veteran fantasy writer Norton. Echoing Jane Eyre, Dickens and even Anonymous' erotic classic My Secret Life, the Bloch/Norton team has a fine time indulging in London dialects and lowlife scenery following the suicide of Edward Hyde and disappearance of Dr. Jekyll. In Canada, prim Hester Lane, now an orphan but with her first sales established with The British Lady magazine in London, leaves Canada for England. The British Lady decides to hire her to investigate the newly formed Salvation Army--whose activities with the underclass, drunkards, prostitutes and waifs has England in an uproar and which gives Bloch/Norton a shot at street-life at its grimmest. Hester is approached by an inspector following up on the disappearance of Jekyll; he thinks she may have murdered him, for Jekyll's lawyer has revealed that Hester is Jekyll's niece and stands to inherit 50,000 pounds--which is all news to Hester. Meanwhile, white-slavers have been operating through the Salvation Army at procuring young girls to satisfy the needs of salacious gentlemen of means. Who is operating this ring? None other than a Mrs. Kirby, who has come under the influence of Jekyll's potion for isolating the criminal element in man. As a ""good"" woman, she drank the potion by mistake, then found herself changing into a Hyde-like criminal. When Hester moves into Jekyll's abandoned mansion, she also falls prey to Mrs. Kirby, who wants her to sign over the mansion and inheritance to herself--lest death come to the young virgins she has kidnapped. The novel's virtues come largely in looking at Victorian morals and the works of the Salvation Army, with the horror lightly handled.

 

Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles about Andre

1990 Kirkus Reviews
1990 by Scott Winnett in Locus #357, October
1991 by Baird Searles in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, March

 

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Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

For Ingrid with gratatude and admiration.

 

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Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1990) Published by TOR, HC, 0-312-85037-9, LCCN 90039228, $17.95, 248pg ~ cover Photo by Doug Fornuff {Brown Paper Boards}
  • (1991) Published by TOR, PB, 0-812-51583-8, $4.99, 248pg ~ cover Photo by Doug Fornuff
  • (2017) Published by Worldbuilders Press, DM, no isbn, $3.99, 312pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth

 

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Non-English Editions ~

  • (1992) Published in Paris, France; by Éd. J'ai lu, PB, 22-772-3329-3, 313pg ~ translated by Xavier Perret ~ French title L'héritage du Dr Jekyll
  • (1993) Published in Germany; by Bergisch Gladbach: Bastei-Verl. Lübbe, 34-041-3454-0, Bastei Lübbe 13454, 218pg ~ translated by Reinhard Wagner ~ German title Dr. Jekylls erbe: ein historischer Schocker

 

View the original contract

View the original copyright app.

View the original French & German contract

 

 

 

 

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