Ripper isn't a bad book, it just isn't Allende's best book. Much like J.K. Rowling and The Casual Vacancy, Allende's adventure in the crime genre is a bit of disappointment simply because expectations are high.
As I first encountered the story of young Amanda and her online group of crime solvers, I wondered about the quality of the translation. Something seemed off--clunky. The characters are interesting, if a bit two-dimensional. Amanda's flighty mother Indiana and her cast of lovers, patients and friends is nice enough. The grandfather who accedes to the whiz kids wishes is ok. But nobody is fully drawn or comes alive beyond some occasional back story. Not what one expects from the lyrical Allende. Only toward the end, as the killer is revealed, does the story smooth out and get interesting.
The story is how the kids on-line game becomes a real life pursuit of a serial killer. Conveniently, Amanda's father is the deputy chief of police, so they have access to important data. They also get caught up in the crime, which is a bit of a stretch.
I can't wholeheartedly recommend the book. It's not bad, just not good enough.
Isabel Allende is a Chilean writer, who makes her home in San Francisco. Her works include The House of Spirits and City of Beasts. The award-winning writer is known for her "magical realism."
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