Rating: 3 stars
Title : I, Ripper
Author: Stephen Hunter
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
The mystery of Jack the Ripper has been around for 127 years. The man was never caught and continued to walk amongst civilians until his death. Stephen Hunter takes the infamous story and creates a tale of what would possibly been the thought process of Jack. The story is written from the perspective of Jack the Ripper and a reporter writing under the name of Jeb. A majority of the story is written from Jeb’s perspective. It is his memoir and thoughts that are driving the story. This is my first time reading a book by this author, and I must say, I was pretty impressed with his writing.
What stood out to me the most was his style of writing. As I have seen in the past, there are times where the author deviates from the language that they started with. Hunter maintained the English style of writing and language. From common words such as coppers, hansom, bobbies, and Judys, he used them all consistently in his story. It made the writing very realistic, often feeling as I were reading an actual memoir written in the late 1800s. It was fascinating how he also was able to incorporate the incompetency of cops during this time. Characters in the story were often angered by Jeb’s accusations, but they held much merit, something that we would be able to understand today in our modern times. The constant trampling and lack of belief in the sciences led many clues to go unnoticed. It was because of the time and lack of science that Jack the Ripper was able to go undetected. I think the biggest surprise of the story is when the true identity of Jeb is revealed. With research on the famous writer, there was a great balance between fact and fiction.
Although Jack the Ripper’s portion was entirely fictional, in his thoughts and feelings, with the study of psychology and serial killers, Hunter was able to accurately assume what drove the famous killer. One does not kill at random without reason. Although the crime scenes were completely destroyed by the police, Jack’s possible motive and beliefs were evident in the victims he picked and the consistent way they were cut and treated. Hunter takes what is known and humanizes the man behind Jack the Ripper.
The reason I only gave it 3 stars is that I began to lose interest in the writing. I believe this has more to do with me, than the writing of the author. It was unable to hold my interest after some time. I found myself more interested in Jack’s perspective then that of Jeb’s. It did not end when the killings ended, but continued as Jeb continued to pursue the killer. It become somewhat of an obsession for him. Luckily for him, the end result leads to a very famous publication that would make him a household name. All in all, I would read the work of Stephen Hunter again.