I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter

Synopsis: In the fall of 1888, Jack the Ripper slaughtered five prostitutes in London’s seamy Whitechapel District. He did not just kill—he ripped with a butcher’s glee—and then, after the particularly gruesome slaying of Mary Jane Kelly, he disappeared. For 127 years, Jack has haunted the dark corners of our imagination, the paradigm of the psychotic killer. We remember him not only for his crimes, but because, despite one of the biggest dragnets in London history, he was never caught.

I, Ripper is a vivid reimagining of Jack’s personal story entwined with that of an Irish journalist who covered the case, knew the principals, charted the investigation, and at last, stymied, went off in a bold new direction. These two men stalk each other through a city twisted in fear of the madman’s blade, a cat-and-mouse game that brings to life the sounds and smells of the fleshpot tenderloin of Whitechapel and all the lurid acts that fueled the Ripper headlines.

Review: When I saw this book, I was immediately intrigued. Jack the Ripper is a subject that interests me and I was curious about this new story. I was also very surprised to see at the end of the novel, a bibliography showing where the author was able to find some of his ideas. I love the concept.

We follow here two and even three characters exactly but eventually two alternately. Indeed, we can find some passages from the Jack’s diary, describing us his life, his actions, and his murders with great details. Maybe a little too much for me I admit it, but everything was quite interesting to read and to discover. Yes, because we find his meetings with each of his victims, his feelings when he discovers the articles about him or even his particular madness. In addition to this character, as I said we follow another person, a reporter, Jeb. He is a man who is determined to understand who Jack is and to write everything that is happening. He will gradually move closer to the truth, sometimes mistaking the identity of the culprit but it’s true that we can only be surprised at the end when we learn who he really is. I told you about three characters, is not it? Initially we do not understand very well how this woman really fits into the story and with her letters to her parents, but it allows us to see the climate of the time and the opinion of the population compared to all that is happening in society.

I enjoyed the novel in general, but it’s true that I found that the story was a little too long for me and after a while I wasn’t really interesting by the story. The mystery is intriguing of course, but I think that I was unable to hang to the characters and their search. And even in the end, when we learn the identity of the killer, I did not have this satisfaction that we can have when the story is finally resolved. Yet the author’s ideas are very good and all is well led. Perhaps I missed something to really fit in the life of each protagonist emphasized.

In conclusion it was therefore an interesting book, although I think I expected a little more.




35 thoughts on “I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter

  1. I’ve always been sort of morbidly fascinated by Jack the Ripper as well Melliane, but it’s too bad this book felt a little too long and wasn’t able to hold your interest throughout despite the subject matter. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. sorry it turned out to be a book you don’t like. i like retellings and so far this is the best retelling i read (well, just from the synopsis only). the idea is so unique – hey, it’s jack the the ripper. unlike others that are from disney stories and like duhh. great review btw!

  3. Nice, a Jack the Ripper story? Like you, I’m also very interested in those too. I imagine it’s so hard to write a good Ripper book though, because I’ve found so few that I love. This one seems like it had a good concept, sorry to hear it didn’t work so well for you.

  4. Bummer that this one is a miss. I think we are all still fascniated by Jack the Ripper but there are so many ripoff tales out there that I am steering away from book on Ripper.

  5. Well, it does sound like a marvellous idea – writing a book from the Ripper’s perspective. Daunting, for me anyway… I think that, like you, I would struggle with the murder descriptions, especially if they’re so graphic. Wonderful review 🙂

  6. I’ve read a few fantasy novels too that were way too long like some chapters needed to be chopped because it dragged the plot down. And I am not a good skimmer! I either read it or skip it totally. I feel your pain, lady!

  7. I’m intrigue by the case of Jack the Ripper and this sounds intense with part of the story being told through his pov! I’ve been very curious about the book for sure. I’m sorry the ending was a little less that what you had expected, but it sounds like the author carried the idea and mystery well.
    Great review, Melliane – thanks 🙂

  8. This is a neat idea and subject to write, but there is a balance that’s tricky here too. Thanks for sharing. 😀

  9. It sounded good until you said it was too long. I find stories about Jack the Ripper to be pretty interesting as a rule. Sorry it just didn’t work for you.

  10. I’m with you. I find the storyline of Jack the Ripper fascinating. I’ve read a couple different ones now with that as a part of the story and it’s interesting to see how the author will handle that. One I read had him as an almost zombie in present day Canada. Very odd. lol Sorry to see this one didn’t really pull through. Hopefully the next will!

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