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Ripper: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 28, 2014
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*Starred Review* In her last novel, Maya’s Notebook (2013), Allende illuminated a criminal underworld. Now she nimbly joins her detective novelist husband, William C. Gordon, in writing crime fiction. Given her signature combination of bewitching imagination and social gravitas, Allende creates a compassionate and gripping mystery stoked by the paradoxes of family and community and the consequences of abuse. Super-smart high-school senior Amanda Martín is obsessed with an Internet role-playing game, Ripper (as in Jack), and oversees a group comprising four other brilliant misfit teens from around the world as well as her grandfather, who raised her after her very young parents divorced. Amanda’s father, Bob, is a deputy chief of homicide in the San Francisco police department. Her mother, Indiana, is a healer too kind for her own good who is romantically entangled with a former navy SEAL and a wealthy dilettante. As Amanda and her cyber-brigade investigate a series of ritualistic murders no one else believes are connected, Allende richly portrays a range of intriguing characters, from Ayani, a famous Ethiopian model and women’s rights activist, to Attila, a heroic war dog. Sensitive to inequality, injustice, and psychological complexity and touching on everything from aromatherapy to illegal immigrants to PTSD, Allende’s tightly plotted tale of crimes obvious and masked is sharply perceptive, utterly charming, and intensely suspenseful.HIGH-DEMAND BACK STORY: Best-selling Allende’s leap into crime fiction will be energetically promoted with a national author tour and a publicity blitz directed at both her fans and mystery enthusiasts. --Donna Seaman
“Allende’s tightly plotted tale of crimes obvious and masked is sharply perceptive, utterly charming, and intensely suspenseful.” (Booklist, starred review)
“The novelist’s charming first murder mystery features an irresistible teenage sleuth.” (New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice)
“[A] rip-roaring, entertaining crime novel… Allende remains a remarkable spinner of stories. Her prose is sparkling and graceful… her ability to portray passion and action undimmed. “Ripper” grabs you, toys with you, amuses you…” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“Thoroughly charming book… [A] lot of fun to read.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Literary icon Isabel Allende mesmerizes with her first crime novel…this race-against-the-clock thriller is pure magic.” (People Magazine, Four Stars)
“Appealing characters, a fast-paced plot, and a successfully imagined killer add up to great entertainment.” (Library Journal)
“[Allende’s] facility with plotting and pacing will keep readers turning the pages.” (Publishers Weekly)
“It must have been surprising to discover that [Allende’s] particular literary strengths - a talent for dramatization, a delight in world-building and a passion for investigating relationships between family members - lend themselves so well to a genre she’s never bothered with before. I am hoping she’ll continue her killings.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“There are deliciously creepy elements in ‘Ripper,’ much like those in the dark Scandinavian crime novels one of its characters loves.” (Seattle Times)
“Allende doesn’t miss a beat, smoothly exposing the underbelly of the city and the shenanigans of its wealthy elite. You might guess the identity of the killer before the last pages, but you won’t care-the shocks and unexpected twists will keep you riveted until the end.” (More Magazine)
“Like many of Allende books it’s a joy to read with sentences to savor and read aloud. An excellent novel, RIPPER is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.” (I Love a Mystery (Blog))
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Ripper is theoretically the story of a girl and her cohorts who, in the course of playing the game "Ripper", attempt to solve real murders: murders that eventually impact her immediate family. However, Allende establishes early in the book that she's not overly interested in the mystery (in fact, she has one of her characters disparage mysteries by commenting on how easy it is to write one). Instead, Allende is more interested in subjects that her long time readers will recognize: the power of family, the strength of women, the loutish nature of most men, and the role of the slightly supernatural in our lives. When Allende is playing in her usual sandbox of themes, Ripper holds together very well. She meticulously develops her characters, builds plausible scenes with those characters to highlight the themes, and even provides them with realistic dialogue (long a weakness of Allende's). But, so much energy is poured into the character study that the mystery becomes even more of an afterthought than Allende establishes early in the book. Consequently, the murderer becomes obvious (I almost never figure out who the murderer is in mysteries, but I was able to spot the murderer upon their first appearance in Ripper), the method for solving the crime becomes too coincidental for belief, and the ending is simply outlandish. After seeing the slapdash way the mystery is handled, one realizes that they are reading a book that's a "mystery" in marketing only.
Ripper feels like two stories uncomfortably fit into one. One story is a thoughtful character study where a woman tries to decide between two lovers while still maintaining a relationship with her family and friends. But, it seems Allende couldn't figure out where to take that story. So, she tacked on a second story: a mystery involving the woman's daughter and her daughter's friends who attempt to solve crimes. Unfortunately, the mystery does nothing to enhance the character study; and, in fact, weakens it. Again, Allende deserves some credit for trying a new tact in her writing. But, after seeing the results of that attempt, Allende should find an avenue other than mysteries to further develop her skill.
I've read 2 other books she wrote. One I liked , the other not so much.
RIPPER was all over the place. Lots of weird characters, weird situations, jumped from person to person, situation to situation, place to place.
It was hard to even want to finish the book. If I hadn't paid for it I would have returned it (after reading a few chapters) to the library or to whoever loaned it to me.
I would not recommend it to anyone.
positive who did the murders nor why.
If I don't have it solved by now, you can bet it's a really well written mystery. The clues,(and I'm sure there are some I've missed),
are well concealed
I would have given it five stars, but there are a few too many characters who are fleshed out enough to keep them straightened
out.Ripper is a near five