5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Here's a new novel that delivers a great new take on Jack the Ripper. Right from the very first page, I knew it was going to be good. Here's the opening paragraph, which to me perfectly sets the tone and scene: London. 1888. The Whitechapel district...
"The guts of London are laid out as if on a surgeon's table. The narrow streets surge with pedestrians, tramps, carters and children flitting on mud-flecked lets - denizens of the great coal-gray smudgery piss-pot. Slip down through the smog, over hovels with garbage strewn across tar-papered roofs, down to the locals at their windows. Marionette arms test stiff laundry wings. The sound wafts up, the snap of umber linen on the wet, but no on rises above the cornices".
Part 1 of the book - approximately 3/4 of the total - covers the Ripper murders. And the murderer himself. Because this is no whodunnit. We know, quite early on, exactly who the Ripper is. The twist here, however, is that we get inside the Ripper's head. We visit his past, his upbringing, his family, his training... what led him to become the heartless murderer that reaches out across history? This is a take on the Ripper that speaks to the Hannibal Lector generation, we who are fascinated with profiling our serial killers. The Passion of the Ripper is a psychological take on Jack the Ripper, one that is unlike any I've encountered before.
And although I'm certainly no Ripperologist - merely someone who's familiar with the murders and the setting - this novel reads and feels as if everything is rooted in fact. All the details are correct. The chronology is spot-on. The victims are rendered true to life. Even the Ripper here is based on an actual real-life suspect, a man whom the investigating officer became convinced years later was, in fact, the actual murderer.
The character of the Ripper here is so good, that I found myself getting a bit bored with the prattlings of Mary Kelley, and wishing we'd get back to the Ripper. Perhaps that's why I felt the strongest part of the book is the last part - Part 2, the final quarter or so of the book.
In Part 2, we see what became of the Ripper in the years after the murders. And, in a great showcase of thriller writing, a satisfying ending is delivered. One that leaves the reader nodding and smiling, secure that justice was served in the end. An ending that, as it turns out, threads the needle between fact and fiction almost perfectly.
Maybe Jack the Ripper got his just reward after all? By the end of The Passion of the Ripper, you might think so.
This is a short but powerful novel, a perfect read for a few hours during this hot summer. I highly recommend it.
And if you have a Kindle, it's a marvelous bargain at just $4.99. The Kindle version is well-formatted, with bold text done correctly throughout, and both a forward and afterward by the author. It lacks an active table of contents - but I suspect from the structure of the book itself that the printed version might not have one either.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The Jack the Ripper story has been worked over so many times that it would appear that there's no more gold to be mined from it. This book, however, does so. Instead of trying to 'solve' the murders and unmask the killer, it simply tells a story about the ripper, and does so in an engaging way. It gives a lively view of life in 19th century London and the milieu in which the ripper lived and murdered. The familiarity of the names and places that surround the Jack the Ripper murders come in handy here, as there is a certain frisson as each of them is introduced to the story. Of particular interest is the latter (sadly shorter) section, in which the post-murders life of the ripper is examined.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book differs slightly on traditional Jack the Ripper views. It is a fictional work loosely based on fact, but the "voice" of the novel is as distracting as the main character. Transitions between time periods are sloppy, almost intentionally blurred, and serve to needlessly complicate the story. Motivation for the main character is excellent, however, and glimpses into his personality, while disturbing, are the saving grace of this book