Huck Finn Meets Professor Moriarty

The novel based on the shocking true story: New York, 1846. Albert Jarvis befriends Edward Rulloff, a physician, lawyer, professor, inventor, linguist fluent in 27 languages—and serial killer. 


Albert Jarvis is an unusually bright boy—a tragic temperament for the jailor’s son in a gritty 1840s town at the edge of the American frontier.


Desperate to belong, he fails repeatedly to prove himself worth his salt, until a captivating stranger offers an enchanting vision—a world where the path to heroism lies in words. The place is New York City. The stranger: Edward Rulloff, an accomplished physician, lawyer, professor, inventor, linguist fluent in 27 languages—and serial killer.

Soon caught up in an epic test of loyalty and betrayal, Albert must wrestle with the meaning of justice, and decide for himself whether Rulloff is a genius or a madman—all while trying to survive his thrilling, shameful, and dangerous adventures. 

Based on the shocking, true story of the Educated Murderer that riveted 19th-century America and England, drove editorials by Mark Twain, and may have inspired Sherlock Holmes’ most notorious nemesis, The Prisoner’s Apprentice has all the makings of a classic. In a compelling twist on most detective fiction and true crime drama, we learn whodunit at the start. The genuine mystery teased out through this unforgettable psychological thriller is why.

A must-read for anyone who adored Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, Lindsay Faye’s The Gods of Gotham, or Robert McCammon’s The Queen of Bedlam.

Praise for The Prisoner's Apprentice


The Prisoner’s Apprentice grabbed me on page one and swept me up into a rich tapestried world of mystery and intrigue that kept me turning page after page well into the night. Cheyenne Richards writes with such clarity and beauty that this novel cartwheels along, raising questions, and opening up a world that is sure to delight book clubs.”

Lolly Winston, New York Times bestselling author of Good Grief, Happiness Sold Separately, and Me For You



“This novel marks the debut of a gifted new writer. In The Prisoner’s Apprentice, Cheyenne Richards tells the astonishing story of a young boy who befriends a brilliant murderer in 1846. She writes with a fresh voice that is both energetic and engaging. The story is part thriller, part psychological study — and completely riveting storytelling.”

Ellen Sussman, New York Times bestselling author of A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night Like This

Want to Read More?

Wet your appetite with a taste of sample chapters from the novel.

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About the Author

Cheyenne Richards is a writer, sailor, and coach who loves everything on the planet except Swiss cheese.

A tomboy who loves polka dots, a Palo Alto native drawn to the past as much as the future, Cheyenne is an outdoors-loving bookworm who’s most at home under a cozy blanket with a good book. 

She's lived in California, Australia, Singapore, and most recently Mexico, with her boyfriend, aboard a small sailboat named Pristine.

Cheyenne is also the great-great-grand-niece of Edward Rulloff.

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