Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Ripper by Stefan Petrucha

By Stefan Petrucha

To Sum It Up: All his life, Carver Young has dreamed of becoming a detective and finding his biological father. Carver studiously reads crime novels, perfects his lock-picking, and even finds stolen items for the fellow children at his orphanage. When Carver comes across a supposed letter from his father while snooping around, he goes out on a limb, writing to the present Police Commissioner, asking to be taken on as an apprentice. The orphanage is moving to a different location anyway, and any children over the set age are required to be turned out. Carver is over the restricted age and has nothing left to lose; he needs the Police Commissioner to adopt him. Instead, Detective Albert Hawking of the famous Pinkerton Agency takes up Carver's offer. Carver's first case as Hawking's apprentice is to find his biological father. Carver is more than ecstatic with his first assignment, but when his first case starts to intertwine with the investigation of New York City's most recent serial killer, things become much trickier.

Review: I've always been oddly fascinated by Jack the Ripper; he is a weirdly interesting historical figure. I guess like everyone else, I want to know what made him tick. I also admire detectives and the way they have to think like the psychopaths they're up against. So when I saw this book tucked away on the shelf, I knew I had to have it!

Ripper takes place in New York City during the 1890's, so the setting was right up my alley. Petrucha did a great job of setting the scene. Everything was quite believable, so imagine my surprise when I caught of whiff of steampunk. There were secret underground agencies, a highly tech-savvy library, and gadgets galore! It was a surprising delight. It made the detectives seem all that more kick-arse. The action was non-stop. Whether Carver was sneaking into upscale parties, running around the city looking for dear ol’ dad, or fighting off the psycho serial killer, I was on the edge of my seat. It was even interesting when Carver was in the New Pinkerton library doing book work. I feel as though I've learned a lot about being a detective; it's kind of like I took a course on it or something.

Carver was a great protagonist. He was admirable while also being believable; there were enough flaws to make him seem real. Carver was pretty smart and brave, but he also got terribly jealous and frustrated when things did not go his way. I also enjoyed reading about Carver's friends, Delia and Finn. They always had Carver's back. Detective Hawking was pretty cool, too. As for Jack, I think that Ripper portrayed him quite differently from the average Jack the Ripper story.

A couple of things did bother me about this book, one being the chapter lengths. The chapters were so short; there were around one hundred in the whole book. I have nothing against short chapters; that kind of thing is totally up to the author. But I felt that sometimes the abrupt ends of the chapters disturbed the flow of the story, and at other times I felt like I was reading a middle grade book. Another thing that bothered me was the inconsistency throughout the book, for example, Carver 's detective skills. Sometimes Carver would be a pure genius and figure things out that I hadn't even begun to imagine, and at other times I was screaming at the poor lad to pull this or that lever. The ending killed me! It was so confusing and random that no amount of detective skills would have given you even the slightest chance of seeing it coming. It was like getting hit by a bus. Some elements of this book could have used more thought and work, but despite these flaws, I still really enjoyed reading Ripper and would recommend it.

All in All: Ripper is an amazing book. I was on the edge of my seat during the whole ride. I'm so glad that I gave this book a chance, and I hope more people will give it a chance, too!

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