cover image I, Ripper

I, Ripper

Stephen Hunter. Simon & Schuster, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-6485-6

Set in London in the fall of 1888, Hunter’s intriguing standalone provides fresh insights into the Jack the Ripper case through three different, though not always coherent, perspectives. An opportunistic reporter, who refers to himself as Jeb, gets a break when he’s promoted from being a substitute music critic to being the lead journalist on the Ripper killings. Interspersed with Jeb’s narrative are extracts from the killer’s diary, whose mannered language (“Truly, no creature can understand its own obliteration”) requires a hefty suspension of disbelief. The third voice is that of a prostitute, who describes the atmosphere in the East End in unsent letters written to her estranged mother. For the most part, Hunter (Dirty White Boys) sticks closely to the historical record. The eventual revelation of the serial butcher’s identity may stretch credulity, but details such as the ingenious speculations about the graffiti message that the murderer left on the night he slaughtered two prostitutes are sure to fascinate Ripperologists. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (May)