I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter (Book Review)

i ripper

I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter is not what I expected from this bestselling author of fast paced thrillers. I, Ripper drips red with history, fictional and factual characters thrust into the darkest and bloodiest time in the alleys of Whitechapel. This is perhaps, one of the most original and creative stories I have ever read in the lore of Jack The Ripper.

It is 1888 and five prostitutes are murdered in the filthy dark corners of London’s Whitechapel district. But this serial killer is not content with just murdering his victims; his gruesome displays of lurid surgery sicken both veteran policeman and reporter alike. The press quickly deems him; Jack the Ripper.

“…He was what we left behind when we moved indoors, he was the beast of the heart, he was a creature of pure will without interest in, much less an obedience to, all those rules we agreed upon when we put ourselves under roof. Mercy? Pity? Cooperation? Civility? Brotherhood? The hallowed temple of the soul? Bah, he pushed them aside with a single brutish swipe. He was out of the Cimmerian darkness, mangy, hairy, quick to slash and cut and exult in the spillage of blood. He cried havoc, he let slip the dogs of depravity and murder, but even more loudly he cried– Not so fast. With your modern age, your railways, your steel ships and machines of war and deep penetrations under the earth for fuel to drive it all–not so fast, you blighters. Here is the message I deliver for you to contemplate. I am anarchy. I am fear. I am carnage, slaughter, destruction for its own sake. I will remind you: It is your vanity to believe you have come so far and left me behind. You will never leave me behind. Don’t you see it yet? I am you.
That, really, is why I knew he’d strike again.
And he did…”

Jeb Horn is a reporter for The Star who rises to notoriety during this time. his uncanny ability to read into what the Ripper is doing and the failures of the police, make him a force to be reckoned with. But Jeb wants more than readership, he wants the Ripper. As he investigates the murders he begins to draw together a picture of the man who murders so violently. Aided by his new friend, Professor Dare, they believe they know who Jack the Ripper is. But knowing and catching him are two very different challenges.

Secrets and clues unfold in I, Ripper at a rapid pace and the picture Hunter paints of nineteenth century London and the seedy underbelly that is Whitechapel will stick with you for a long time. Hunter has researched the Ripper killings impeccably and the details he brings to the characters and the murders will make you feel that you are there, in the blood and the smells and the hypocrisy of the time. He has a love and passion for it and it comes through. What is different, what is original, what makes I, Ripper really tick are the characters. Jack. Jeb. And Dare. And everyone else in between and all around. That is what makes this so good and the worse part is that I cannot really share because that would be spoiling it for you. But it will surely change how you view some very well known cultural icons of this time.

I, Ripper moves fast. It is rich in intrigue and mystery. Told both through the eyes and thoughts of Jeb the reporter and the diary of Jack the Ripper himself. This is one Ripper story not to be missed.

A really great read!

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