Thursday, November 7, 2013

RIPPER by Isabel Allende

Publisher:  Harper Collins
Date published:   January 28, 2014
Genre:   Mystery
Format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


A group of youth, from juveniles to their teens, each with a disability or issue that restricts them in their day to day life, find each other in a virtual game tracking a serial killer.

A Reiki practitioner who experiences events yet to unfold while using her skills to help her clients heal.

A former Navy SEAL lives a full life, yet something sinister surrounds him.

Different people, different life paths, soon find their lives entwined in pursuit of a serial killer who strikes out and kills seemingly disparate victims.

When a school custodian is found dead on school grounds the students who find him are shocked as are the authorities investigating him. While his body bears the appearance of some sort of ritual killing he was, in fact, killed in a rather mundane fashion. Tenuous links to a boy’s school in another state lead only to a dead end in trying to solve the crime.

When a judge is found dead, more questions than answers arise. And the circle of death grows. What started out as a game bringing together the group of juveniles suddenly takes on deeper proportions. From hospital rooms, homes and faraway places they delve into not only who is killing citizens on the streets of San Francisco but why the deaths are necessary.

I was so excited to receive Isabel Allende’s RIPPER for review. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with the different conspiracy theories around Jack the Ripper and what’s not to like about a story that takes place in San Francisco? 

I was sadly disappointed.  Ms. Allende is normally such a dynamic writer that more than once, I wondered if she really wrote RIPPER.  Even with her husband’s input as she mentions in her acknowledgements, the story feel far short of what I have come to expect from this ordinarily very talented author.  I didn’t find the characters particularly likeable, but a well told story can make up for lack of character connection. In the case of RIPPER it seemed like Ms. Allende couldn’t decide if she wanted to write a young adult mystery, an adult paranormal or a white-knuckled suspense.  Some authors can combine the different genres into a super multi-genre book; however RIPPER did not work out quite that way.

I’ve seen a growing trend in many contemporary books where it seems authors have been given a check list of all the politically correct and current issues they must include to be popular. I don’t know if they’ve shared this information among themselves, if their agents or editors are suggesting that these elements are needed to sell, if it is coming from the publishers or if is just happening. Whichever it is, I’m becoming more and more turned off on books set in the present day because of this seeming check list of elements which:  there has to be at least a GLBT connection if not a couple – half the time they are not written well.  There has to be an injured or at least damaged in some fashion Iraq or Afghanistan war vet and he has to have issues instead of being the strong one, who helps an otherwise damaged, not vet person out. There has to be at least one precocious child. If these elements were part of the fabric of the story and didn’t seem to be thrown in unexpectedly they would work. In RIPPER they did not work for me.

There will be long-time fans that will disagree with my review and love this book. For a story with so much potential I was, as I said, sorely disappointed.  I will read any future books written by Ms. Allende because, as I said, she is such a dynamic writer.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement this book.

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