by Amy Carol Reeves
The Ripper is a different take on the Jack the Ripper murders in 1888. It is the story of a young lady, Arabella (Abbie), who has a mental connection to The Ripper. Abbie is a very strong heroine who is new to London. She lives with her Grandmother in a large estate. Her mother and father are dead and Abbie has only recently moved in with Granny. Abbie is impulsive, stubborn, and not the cultured young woman her grandmother wants her to be. Instead, she is what her mother raised her to be; strong, smart, and tough. After a late night romp through the east end in pursuit of a pickpocket, Abbie’s grandmother is furious. Grandmother decides to punish Abbie in order to make Abbie realize how wonderful her life of ease is. A friend of Grandmother’s, Dr. Bartlett, has asked that Abbie assist him at Whitechapel Hospital. Whitechapel is a hospital for prostitutes and other women who are poor and have no where else to go for medical care. Grandmother expects Abbie to come running back after a week of hard work, but instead Abbie is immediately hooked on the job. She has a passion for caring for others and for helping the underdog. She meets two young doctors who become very important to her: one is a possible love interest and one is more of a friend and brother figure. The first murder occurs after Abbie has worked in Whitechapel for a few weeks. The victim is a prostitute who has recently been discharged from the hospital. Abbie sees the murder happen in her dreams, but thinks it’s a nightmare. The next day she finds out it was real.
The Ripper is a great read. It grabs you almost immediately and is very hard to put down. I was very surprised by the ending. The Ripper is not easy to predict, at least not for most of the book. There are always a few things that are easy to predict in most books, but this one kept me guessing. The only predictable part was which guy she would ultimately end up with, and who her real father was. The ending was a little unrealistic, but great for showing what an underestimated tough girl can do when she puts her mind to it. I do wish that Grandmother was a little more developed. It was easy to tell that she cared a lot for Abbie and didn’t want to lose her the way she had lost her daughter, Abbie’s mother. I also would have liked to know more about the butler, Richard. There was enough of a cliff-hanger ending that there could possibly be a sequel, but it was also wrapped up well enough that there doesn’t have to be one. This is a great book for opening discussions on several social problems in the past that are still going strong today, such as medical care for the poor and inequality among different classes of people. The Ripper would be a good choice for any public library.