TLC Book Tours Presents: Ripper Review


Ripper by Isabelle Allende

Release date: 2014 / 496 pages

Synopsis (from Amazon): The Jackson women, Indiana and Amanda, have always had each other. Though their bond is strong, mother and daughter are as different as night and day. Indiana, a beautiful holistic healer, is a free-spirited bohemian… While her mom looks for the good in people, Amanda is fascinated by the dark side of human nature—as is her father, the SF PD’s deputy chief of homicide. Brilliant and introverted, the MIT-bound high school senior Amanda is a natural-born sleuth addicted to crime novels and to Ripper, the online mystery game she plays with her beloved grandfather and friends around the world. When a string of strange murders occurs across the city, Amanda plunges into her own investigation, probing hints and deductions that elude the police department…

Review: When TLC contacted me about reviewing Allende’s latest novel, I was torn due to the title.  I am not drawn to the genre of crime thrillers or detective novels and really do not like reading about violence.  On the other hand, I adore Isabel Allende — and I admire her for stepping outside her usual milieu  (see my review of Maya’s Notebook). Eventually, I was just too curious to see how she would handle a serial killer.  So, I reluctantly agreed and lost three days, nose-to-book, enthralled by another other-worldly experience despite the lack of magical realism.

The focus of Ripper is a powerful woman (of course!) named Indiana and her precocious daughter Amanda.  Indiana is a masseuse and healer, while teenage Amanda follows in her police detective father’s footsteps and is enthralled with the online crime game Ripper.  Amanda and her cohorts (including her wonderful grandfather) follow a series of murders that occur in the San Francisco area, convinced they are the handiwork of one person.  Indiana has no interest in her daughter’s fascination and is instead trying to balance the affections of a number of men, all of whom are borderline obsessed with her.  Not surprisingly, the two plot lines eventually merge, but Allende does manage to keep the reader guessing until the end.

The plot is compelling and Ripper is certainly a page-turner.  I was initially dismayed to see its length of 475 pages, but this was no problem due to Allende’s masterful crafting of the storyline.  However, the great strength of this novel are the characters — beyond Indiana and Amanda, the suitors are fascinating and somehow so authentic and credible even though one is a wealthy socialite and one is a former Navy Seal.  Even Indiana’s patients and Amanda’s teammates spring off the page fully-realized and fascinating in their own right (and are not overshadowed by the powerful protagonists).

Allende’s writing is as sensuous and lyrical as her readers expect.  Here is just one passage from the beginning of the novel:

She cataloged people by scent: her grandfather, Blake, smelled of gentleness — a mixture of wool sweaters and chamolmile; Bob, her father, of strength — metal, tobacco, and aftershave; Bradley, her boyfriend, of sensuality, sweat, and chlorine; and Ryan smelled of reliability and confidence, a doggy aroma that was the most wonderful fragrance in the world.  As for her mother Indiana, steeped in the essential oils of her treatment room, she smelled of magic.

This is one of those rare novels that can be recommended to nearly every reader.  Allende has truly outdone herself this time. As an aside, be sure to read the letter to Booksellers at the start where she explains her motivation, her process, her attempt (and failure) to co-write a novel with her husband, and then signs the letter Yours in crime and punishment, Isabelle Allende Certified Assassin.

I’m not fully convinced that Allende can thrive in any genre and will not hesitate to read her next novel, even if a bodice-ripping romance!

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour:

Here’s the tour schedule:
Tuesday, January 28th: Jen’s Book Thoughts
Wednesday, January 29th: Book Club Classics!
Thursday, January 30th: Peppermint PhD
Monday, February 3rd: The Scarlet Letter
Tuesday, February 4th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, February 5th: Literally Jen
Thursday, February 6th: Little Lovely Books
Monday, February 10th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, February 11th: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, February 12th: The Book Wheel
Thursday, February 13th: M. Denise C.
Monday, February 17th: she treads softly
Tuesday, February 18th: In Bed with Books
Wednesday, February 19th: Bibliophilia, Please
Thursday, February 20th: Literary Feline
Monday, February 24th: Between the Covers
Tuesday, February 25th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Wednesday, February 26th: Under a Gray Sky
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4 Responses to TLC Book Tours Presents: Ripper Review

  1. Pingback: Isabel Allende, author of Ripper, on tour January/February 2014 | TLC Book Tours

  2. Allende is truly a gifted writer – she probably CAN write in any genre!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  3. Pingback: Allende Tries Her Hand at Mystery in "Ripper"

  4. Patti Smith says:

    Maya’s Notebook was actually my first Allende, and I loved it. My success with it was what made me so want to read Ripper. I was not disappointed. While a thriller for sure, I think Allende adds so much depth to anything she writes, and she does it so well with Ripper!!

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