My Grandfather Jack the Ripper

Claudio Apone, Author Herodias $19 (200p) ISBN 978-1-928746-16-4
With its atmospheric setting and spooky subject matter, this odd story a strong seller in its original Italian edition starts off with a great deal of promise, only to be dragged down by an awkward narrative style and a coincidence-heavy plot. Andy Dobson, 13, lives with his mother and grandfather in the Jack-in-the-Box, the ramshackle guesthouse in London's scruffy East End that the Dobson family has owned for nearly 150 years. A new boarder, Massimo, lets Andy know that the Jack-in-the-Box was the site of Jack the Ripper's final murder. When Massimo discovers that Andy--conveniently enough--has psychic gifts, he suggests exaggerating these powers with the help of a mildly hallucinogenic compound. Bound to an armchair and injected with the drug, Andy travels into the past and witnesses the events surrounding the Ripper's last killing, a crime described in grisly detail. Meanwhile, in the present day, a copycat killer prepares to strike at those near and dear to Andy. The present-tense narration and a stilted (uncredited) translation give the story an unintentionally eccentric quality (""She has secretly decided that she will marry this impudent yet sweet prankster with the freckled face""; ""Andy finds him to be looking really very nice in his tweed suit"") and undercut Apone's attempts at building suspense. Ages 13-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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