Crime & Thrillers ripper

Published on February 10th, 2014


Ripper by Isabel Allende

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Blurb: For Amanda Martín and her friends, Ripper was all just a game. But when security guard Ed Staton is found dead in the middle of a school gym, the murder presents a mystery that baffles the San Francisco police, not least Amanda’s father, Deputy Chief Martín. Amanda goes online, offering ‘The Case of the Misplaced Baseball Bat’ to her fellow sleuths as a challenge to their real-life wits. And so begins a most dangerous obsession. The murders begin to mount up but the Ripper players, free from any moral and legal restraints, are free to pursue any line of enquiry. As their unique power of intuition lead them ever closer to the truth, the case becomes all too personal when Amanda’s mother suddenly vanishes. Could her disappearance be linked to the serial killer? And will Amanda and her online accomplices solve the mystery before it’s too late? (Fourth Estate, February 2014)

Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times

“Allende blithely dispenses with the more restrictive genre conventions to get to the fun parts — narrative timeouts in which she lingers on the romantic adventures of Amanda’s free-spirited mother, the delectable Indiana Jackson, or stops to construct detailed back stories for colorful secondary characters like Doña Encarnación, Amanda’s formidable grandmother, and Danny D’Angelo, a chatty drag queen who waits table at Cafe Rossini.”

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John O’Connell, The Guardian

“The Scandi-influenced result is idiosyncratic, unflinching, glaringly contemporary (it is about a bunch of online gamers who end up tracking a serial killer in San Francisco) and obviously much better written than it needs to be. Allende excels at exacting portraiture and barbed asides.”

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Lucy Denyer, The Sunday Times

“The plot takes a while to settle in, the style is clunky, and various plot devices don’t quite ring true. But, as it gathers pace, the tale becomes gripping, and delivers a clever final twist.”

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Sophia Martelli, The Observer

“Hard-boiled detective story this ain’t: once into the novel proper, Allende’s distinctive characterisation methods come into play – detailed, extreme, each with a lengthy backstory, the result is a selection of characters that can strain the boundaries of reality. However, true to form it is Allende’s women that engage: Amanda’s mother, aromatherapist Indiana, is the heart of the novel. Amanda, although the engine of the plot, is less well drawn and substantially less sympathetic. It is only towards the middle of the novel that Allende gets into her stride and the interweaving threads begin to gain narrative drive and tension.”

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Jake Kerridge, The Telegraph

“We know, thanks to a teasing auto-spoiler in the novel’s first paragraph, that the killer will eventually target Indiana, and after 300-odd pages the Ripper finally gets personal, with the style morphing from Anne Tyler to Patricia Cornwell. The extended race-against-time denouement is well handled, but the melodramatic tropes – we are suddenly treated to monologues from the killer, in the customary italics – jar in a book whose tone has been predominantly comic-realist.”

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Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post

“Spice, not suspense, turns out to be Allende’s signature contribution to the standard serial-killer tale. Indeed, so hot and heaving are the love scenes in “Ripper” that “Bodice-Ripper” would have been a more apt title … there’s a heck of a lot more Harlequin than Hammett to be found on the pages of Ripper. Allende does conjure up a genuinely surprising twist at the end”

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Andrew Taylor, The Spectator

“Considered purely as a thriller, Ripper is cliché-ridden and predictable. Corpse follows corpse; the police are baffled; Indiana vanishes and is held in durance vile, facing a ghastly fate dripping with grand guignol symbolism.”

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