Welcome to day one of my two day Ripper event! What’s a two day Ripper event, you ask? Well! I recently read two books back to back and both of them were called…Ripper. Both dealt with Jack the Ripper. And so I thought I’d review them back to back. Calling it an event just makes it feel more special, you know?
You thought you knew him. You were dead wrong.
Carver Young dreams of becoming a detective, despite growing up in an orphanage with only crime novels to encourage him. But when he is adopted by Detective Hawking of the world famous Pinkerton Agency, Carver is given not only the chance to find his biological father, he finds himself smack in the middle of a real life investigation: tracking down a vicious serial killer who has thrown New York City into utter panic. When the case begins to unfold, however, it’s worse than he could have ever imagined, and his loyalty to Mr. Hawking and the Pinkertons comes into question. As the body count rises and the investigation becomes dire, Carver must decide where his true loyalty lies.
Full of whip-smart dialogue, kid-friendly gadgets, and featuring a then New York City Police Commisioner Teddy Roosevelt, Ripper challenges everything you thought you knew about the world’s most famous serial killer.
Once again, I am a sucker for a book with fancypants cool designs on the pages. Ripper is just a really nice looking book. Even the cover looks better in person, the photo totally doesn’t do it justice. How does this affect my rating of the book? It doesn’t. I just like to give credit where it’s due.
I am also a sucker for all things Jack the Ripper. I always have been, ever since I was a little kid. I remember I used to lay in bed and there was a Time Life commercial for a set of their books – probably Mysteries of the Unknown – and there was a shot of a guy in a top hat & cape walking down a creepy, foggy alleyway. It used to scare the living crap out of me, but I loved it so much. So to say that I’m a huge fan of stuff about Jack the Ripper is putting it mildly.
And. And! It’s also got the whole historical fiction thing happening. With full-on name dropping – Astor, Roosevelt, Edison, etc. They’re all there.
PLUS. Carver is like my beloved girl detective except, you know, a boy. Still, he’s a kid detective and while he’s not exactly Nancy Drew or Veronica Mars, he’s definitely got a bit of a historical Hardy Boys vibe happening. Needless to say, this was basically like the perfect storm of factors that I love all coming together in one convenient 427 page package.
That said, one of the big twist of the story is pretty easy to figure out right away. There are still plenty of other little puzzles and mysteries along the way and it keeps things interesting. And then the twist at the end…holy shitbricks, I definitely did NOT see that one coming. I was actually stunned. I re-read a couple of paragraphs twice just to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding. I can honestly say that I was completely blindsided.
Carver is a really sympathetic character who you can’t help but root for. Hawking is hard to like at first – old curmudgeon would be the nicest thing you could say about him – but he grows on you. The world building is cool and there’s lots of neat little newfangled inventions like electric carriages. I’ve heard this book described as steampunk and then I’ve seen steampunk fans dismiss that idea, so you’d have to read and form your own conclusion. I’m not nearly familiar enough with steampunk to say one way or another. It had some elements for sure, though.
I really enjoyed this one a lot. Yay boy detective books about Jack the Ripper!