Having moved to London to live with her grandmother following her parents’ deaths and now facing another break in the family as her sister drifts further and further away, there are a lot of things Katie would change about her life if only she could find a way. Getting the chance to travel back to London, 1888 to witness Jack the Ripper’s killing spree first hand was not on the list.
Katie knows she can never bring her parents back. Nevertheless, when a visit to Madame Tussaud’s lands her at the heart of the action, Katie wonders if saving these women will help ease the pain of her parents’ passing. Armed with a 21st century understanding of the Ripper’s crimes, surely unmasking the infamous killer won’t be that difficult, right?
I admit it took me longer to get into this book than others I’ve read recently. I found the frankly gruesome exhibit described at Madame Tussaud’s a bit much (though, to be honest, I am more squeamish than the average reader!) and the transition between the twenty-first century and the Ripper’s London was a tad clunky for my liking. But. I, for one, will happily hold my hands up and say that, when the story picked up and the main plot got underway, it was absolutely worth the wait.
Nineteenth century London through Katie’s eyes is portrayed with just the right amount of detail to make you feel at home but not overwhelmed, while the mix of Katie’s own experiences in society (one of my favourite scenes – Katie and Oscar Wilde at the theatre!) and her search for the truth about Jack the Ripper flows well with Toby and Collin along for the ride. And though I initially thought I would get annoyed at all the cockney rhyming slang being thrown about, I have to say that, in the end, it certainly added a charming element to both the setting and the characters.
Overall, Ripped is a book builds into a gripping thriller. While I have no idea how many others books have taken their inspiration from Jack’s crimes, I highly doubt there’s another that takes this angle. If you’re sitting on the fence thinking about whether or not to give it a go I wholeheartedly suggest you jump in with both feet, because Shelly Dickson Carr really does save the best ‘til last with this one. The more people read, the harder it is to surprise them but with me at least she managed it! That satisfying moment when everything clicks into place just so makes for a surprising, gut-wrenching ending that has stayed with me longer than I thought it would. Very happy the gore didn’t put me off!