07 January, 2015

Ripper: a novel by Isabel Allende (Biddy, Highland Park)

In this novel Allende strays from her traditional voice of magical realism into the crime/suspense genre. Engaging from the start with interactions between a cast of disparate and intriguing characters, the book moves into a nail-biter in the last hundred pages.

When Celeste Roko, celebrated Californian astrologist, predicts that "There will be a bloodbath in San Francisco", her goddaughter Amanda Jackson joins the majority who hear her prediction, in labeling it nonsense. Amanda is a bright teenage sleuth whose favourite occupation is playing Ripper, an internet game, with five children and one adult-her grandfather.

Amanda's mother, beautiful Indiana, is a bohemian alternative therapist and healer, described by her father as "idiosyncratic of appearance, timorous of character, but magnificent of mind". Amanda's view of her mother's occupation is disparaging but their bond is strong and they lead their very different lives harmoniously.

The novel moves from a pleasant narrative in Allende's trademark style with detailed and fascinating characters dominating the tale to a tense, race-against-time thriller as the members of Ripper progress from their game of solving the Whitechapel murders to a series of real murders in Amanda's hometown.

Recommended to all Isabel Allende fans and anyone who enjoys mystery and would like an entertaining read.

Title: Ripper: a novel
Author: Isabel Allende; translated from the Spanish by Oliver Brock and Frank Wynne
Publisher: Harper Collins, New York, N Y
Date: 2014

ISBN: 9780062325921

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