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Ripper: A Novel

Ripper: A Novel

3.3 25
by Isabel Allende

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Isabel Allende—the New York Times bestselling author whose books, including Maya’s Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, and Zorro, have sold more than 57 million copies around the world—demonstrates her remarkable literary versatility with Ripper, an atmospheric, fast-paced mystery involving a brilliant teenage sleuth who


Isabel Allende—the New York Times bestselling author whose books, including Maya’s Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, and Zorro, have sold more than 57 million copies around the world—demonstrates her remarkable literary versatility with Ripper, an atmospheric, fast-paced mystery involving a brilliant teenage sleuth who must unmask a serial killer in San Francisco.

The Jackson women, Indiana and Amanda, have always had each other. Yet, while their bond is strong, mother and daughter are as different as night and day. Indiana, a beautiful holistic healer, is a free-spirited bohemian. Long divorced from Amanda’s father, she’s reluctant to settle down with either of the men who want her—Alan, the wealthy scion of one of San Francisco’s elite families, and Ryan, an enigmatic, scarred former Navy SEAL.

While her mom looks for the good in people, Amanda is fascinated by the dark side of human nature, like her father, the SFPD’s Deputy Chief of Homicide. Brilliant and introverted, the MIT-bound high school senior is a natural-born sleuth addicted to crime novels and Ripper, the online mystery game she plays with her beloved grandfather and friends around the world.

When a string of strange murders occurs across the city, Amanda plunges into her own investigation, discovering, before the police do, that the deaths may be connected. But the case becomes all too personal when Indiana suddenly vanishes. Could her mother’s disappearance be linked to the serial killer? Now, with her mother’s life on the line, the young detective must solve the most complex mystery she’s ever faced before it’s too late.

Editorial Reviews

starred review Booklist
“Allende’s tightly plotted tale of crimes obvious and masked is sharply perceptive, utterly charming, and intensely suspenseful.”
New York Times Book Review
“Thoroughly charming book… [A] lot of fun to read.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“[A] rip-roaring, entertaining crime novel… Allende remains a remarkable spinner of stories. Her prose is sparkling and graceful… her ability to portray passion and action undimmed. “Ripper” grabs you, toys with you, amuses you…”
People Magazine
“Literary icon Isabel Allende mesmerizes with her first crime novel…this race-against-the-clock thriller is pure magic.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“It must have been surprising to discover that [Allende’s] particular literary strengths - a talent for dramatization, a delight in world-building and a passion for investigating relationships between family members - lend themselves so well to a genre she’s never bothered with before. I am hoping she’ll continue her killings.”
Seattle Times
“There are deliciously creepy elements in ‘Ripper,’ much like those in the dark Scandinavian crime novels one of its characters loves.”
More Magazine
“Allende doesn’t miss a beat, smoothly exposing the underbelly of the city and the shenanigans of its wealthy elite. You might guess the identity of the killer before the last pages, but you won’t care-the shocks and unexpected twists will keep you riveted until the end.”
I Love a Mystery (Blog)
“Like many of Allende books it’s a joy to read with sentences to savor and read aloud. An excellent novel, RIPPER is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.”

For Amanda Martin and her friends, Ripper was just a suspenseful online role-playing mystery game. Then the digital murders seem to take on an alarming new real-world dimension when the group discerns that they can detect the work of a serial killer even before the police do. Isabel Allende's new novel invites you into a world teeming with possible suspects and could-be victims, all portrayed with her inimitable touch. A welcome genre leap for one of the most talented and popular writers of our time.

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Allende (The House of the Spirits) successfully tries her hand at a mystery, which features an unlikely team of sleuths united by an online mystery game named after the infamous Whitechapel murderer. High school senior Amanda Martín is the games master for a group that includes her grandfather, Blake Jackson; a wheelchair-bound New Zealand boy with the online persona of a Gypsy girl named Esmeralda; and a 13-year-old boy with a high IQ who calls himself Sherlock Holmes. Amanda persuades her cohorts to investigate real-life crimes in 2012 San Francisco, starting with the murder of Ed Staton, a school security guard. A month earlier, Amanda's astrologer godmother predicted that San Francisco would suffer a bloodbath. The prophecy seems more credible when other murders follow Staton's. While this genre outing isn't as memorable as the author's more groundbreaking fiction, her facility with plotting and pacing will keep readers turning the pages. 7-city author tour. Agent: Carmen Balcells, Carmen Balcells Agency. (Feb.)
Library Journal
As with 2013's Maya's Notebook, Allende departs for somewhat darker territory and features an adolescent heroine. Amanda Jackson identifies less with her good-hearted mother than with her father, divorced from her mother and the SFPD's deputy chief of homicide. A fan of crime fiction and the online mystery game Ripper, MIT-bound Amanda indulges in a little investigating when murder starts breaking out all over town. Then her mother disappears. With a seven-city tour.
Kirkus Reviews
A seasoned hand at the intimate Latin American literary novel and young-adult fantasy takes an ungainly stab at a page-turner about a serial killer. This loose, overstuffed crime story from Allende (Maya's Notebook, 2013, etc.) is set in San Francisco, where teenage heroine Amanda is navigating two problems. First is the split between her mom, Indiana, a gorgeous New-Age healer, and her dad, the SFPD's deputy homicide chief. The second problem is the spate of grotesque murders in the city, over which Amanda obsesses online with a group of fellow geeks with a mordant streak. (Allende refers to such Internet activity as a game called Ripper, but the "game" seems hardly distinct from a chat room.) While Amanda attempts to connect the murders to one killer, Indiana ponders whether to give her affections to a wealthy but shiftless socialite or a former Navy SEAL with PTSD. There are repeated references in the book to Scandinavian crime fiction, and Allende has clearly taken inspiration from the general outlines of the genre: the gory, imaginatively murdered corpses, the whip-smart young female hero, the cynicism about law enforcement institutions. But Allende struggles with pacing and tone. The novel is overlong and thick with clichés both in the prose and the characters; the most carefully drawn character, Indiana, is prone to a flightiness that seems largely designed to serve plot points. Allende crafts some thoughtful brief sketches of San Francisco subcultures, from high-end mansions to rough-and-tumble drag queens, and she cleverly unifies the murders in the closing chapters. But by then, the characters and plot turns feel so familiar that a late-breaking tragedy has little emotional effect. Credit Allende for attempting to expand her range, but crime fiction is plainly not her forte.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Isabel Allende is the author of twelve works of fiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Maya’s Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, Inés of My Soul, Daughter of Fortune, and a novel that has become a world-renowned classic, The House of the Spirits. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.

Brief Biography

San Rafael, California
Date of Birth:
August 2, 1942
Place of Birth:
Lima, Peru

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Ripper 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Twink More than 1 year ago
Isabel Allende's Island Beneath the Sea is one of my favourite books. (my review) I think she's brilliant when it comes to writing historical fiction. Her last novel, Maya's Notebook, (my review) was a contemporary piece with a teenage protagonist. Ripper is Allende's latest novel and is again set in present day with a teenage protagonist. Amanda and her five teenage online friends from around the world are part of a role playing game named Ripper. They investigate "fictional nineteenth century crimes in a fog-shrouded London where characters were faced with scoundrels armed with axes and icepicks, archetypal villains intent on disturbing the peace of the city." When a famous astrologer (who just happens to be Amanda's godmother) predicts a "bloodbath" in Amanda's city (San Francisco) the young crime solvers move their focus to real time cases. Okay, so that's the basic premise. It actually took me a bit to get into the novel. There are numerous characters and connections introduced in the first few chapters. I admit to feeling a bit confused as I tried to work out what the focus of the book was. Is it the murders? Or is it the story of Amanda's mother Indiana? Indi is a free spirited new ager who is torn between two lovers. There are many more storylines as the book continues - a few too many in my opinion. I usually enjoy Allende's in-depth study of her characters, but in Ripper I just felt overwhelmed. Some of the relationships seemed odd, stilted and convenient. Amanda's father just happens to be the Deputy Police Chief of Homicide. Much of the Ripper players' knowledge is freely and easily obtained from him. ( I just never really bought the Ripper players - they seemed more of a prop than an effective part of the book.) Many of the (numerous) other characters are clichéd and overdrawn. From the author's acknowledgements: "This book was born on January 8, 2012 when my agent, Carmen Balcells, suggest to my husband, Willie Gordon, and me that we cowrite a crime novel. We tried, but within twenty-four hours it was clear the project would end in divorce. So he stuck to his own work - his sixth detective novel- while I shut myself away to write alone, as always." I appreciate that an author would be interested in exploring something new and applaud Allende's foray into new genres. But, for this reader, Ripper was a bit of strange read. It was just way too busy and tried to do too much. There's the murder mystery, social commentary on war and the legal system, history, a love story, exploration of alternative therapies, new ageism, and more. The identity of the whodunit is well telegraphed despite the twist that Allende employs at the end. And the murderer's motive has been done many times before. (And the publisher's blurb of 'fast-paced mystery' misses the mark completely) I still think Allende is a wonderful writer, but Ripper missed the mark for me.
The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
Prior to reading Ripper, the only Isabel Allende book I had read was House of Spirits. It was back in high school so, while I don’t remember much about it, I do remember that I enjoyed it more than most assigned books. That said, I was pretty excited to get my hands on her new novel, Ripper. I largely ignored the mediocre reviews because the ones I had come across were written by long-time Allende fans and, unlike them, I had no loyalty to the author. Turns out, however, they were correct in their assertions that this isn’t her best work. Granted, I haven’t read any of her books (other than House of Spirits), but I have to assume that they are much better than this one because she’s such a beloved author. Ripper is a murder mystery and Allende’s first foray into the thriller/mystery/suspense world. The story centers around Amanda, who runs an online murder-mystery game called Ripper that steps offline and into the real world as she and her online friends start investigating a string of real-life murders. Her mother, a free-spirited holistic healer, isn’t thrilled with Amanda’s morbid curiosity but her strong-willed daughter continues her investigations, anyway. Turns out, Mom had good reason to be concerned. Soon, Amanda is off to investigate the disappearance of her own mother and figure out whether it’s linked to the murders she had been investigating. While I have no doubt that this book could have done well (the premise has promise), I was disappointed by it. The writing was choppy and the characters were predictable and embodied stereotypes: the hardened Navy SEAL, the free-spirited Reiki healer, and the impotent rich guy, to name a few. So while I didn’t dislike the book, I didn’t enjoy it, either. There were some good parts and I tore through certain sections, but overall I was pretty ambivalent and disappointed.
ABookishGirlBlog More than 1 year ago
My Thoughts: Allende has a way of just plopping you right in the middle of some family’s life and luckily she does it at the most interesting moment! Every time I read one of Allende’s books I become completely engrossed in the characters and their sometimes complex relationships with each other and how it corresponds to the events transpiring in the story. Allende doesn’t leave out the mundane parts of life that still occur even when your world spins upside down there is still laundry to do, kids to feed, litter boxes to empty and this lends to the authenticity you feel from reading this story, this is so true to life it could actually happen, and if you read my reviews you know I like this type of fiction to be as close as literally as is figuratively possible. My Likes About This Book: 1.)The family dynamic. Even though most of what the Jackson family, well considered family, were not actually blood related Allende wove so many varying, complex characters together to make up this family and they fit just perfectly together each complimenting the other in some way. 2.)Ripper, the game. Very cool way to bring characters together and to be able to bring Amanda, a teenager, into the criminal investigation. I also liked how different all the other players of Ripper was, but they were all needed in some way to help solve the crime. 3.)Attila. Who could resist this dog? I wanted to go out and buy him a mammoth bone! Loyal, kind, and brave; if only most men could have these traits, sigh, lol! My Dislikes About This Book: 1.)Amanda’s inability to see things right in front of her face. This irritated me to no end especially when the killer is revealed after working so closely with two people how can you not tell. No girl living in a big city such as San Francisco would ever be that naive, it just didn’t seem really true to life in my opinion. 2.)Amanda’s access to police files. Again another not really true to life moments in the book, some talk and exchange of information  I see but actually getting autopsy records, no way. 3.)That not relevant parts could be dry sometimes. I know I like that Allende puts in the mundane events with the bizarre events but sometimes I just wanted to skip over them, particularly the ones about Keller.
Angela_J_R More than 1 year ago
This is a crime novel, but still undeniably and wonderfully Isabel Allende. It's a good story, but lots of time is spent in filling out the characters, which usually doesn't happen in the average crime novel. So that leads to a pace that is more typical of Allende than of crime novels, but the book is the better for it. The canvas may be a little too wide -- for instance, I'm not sure what the title game was... There are moments when Allende's voice comes in loud and strong as the narrator -- or perhaps it's the grandfather -- and those are delightful for me, but this is in the context of her other work, which I enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tried five times to read it. Too many names. I could not get interested. Very, very disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This e-book was expensive, but I could get through only a few chapters. Her husband is a mystery writer, and she should leave the genre to him. Save your money. Stick with her other books.
Chelseagirl1 More than 1 year ago
Suspenseful! The one thing I love about Ms. Allende is she is willing to take a gamble and write outside what may be her comfort zone. I was entralled by this book from the start. A talented, multifaceted writer and author, I always look forward to the next book she has to offer. I know I am always entertained.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
It's been many years since I first read and enjoyed an Isabel Allende novel. She is best known for magical realism in her literary novels, so I was surprised to find that she tried her hand at the mystery/thriller genre with her latest work, Ripper. Ripper has a serial killer at work in San Francisco, but no one know it yet. Amanda, a high school senior at a nearby boarding school run by feminist nuns (very cool!), is kind of nerdy and smart and spends time with other smart, nerdy teens in an online role playing game called Ripper. They are intrigued by an astrologer (and friend to Amanda's mother Indiana) who predicts a bloodbath of murders will take place in San Francisco, and when a high school security guard is found brutally murdered, they have their first case. Amanda's father is a police detective, so Amanda tries to get information for her team from him. Amanda's grandfather (Indiana's father) Blake is part of team Ripper, and I loved his relationship with his granddaughter.  They love each other fiercely, and Blake spends as much time as he can with Amanda. The story opens with Amanda telling us that her mother is being held by the serial killer, so we read the rest of the rest of the story waiting to find out why and how this happens. This conceit ratchets up the tension dramatically. Other murders occur and the police don't believe they are connected until team Ripper puts all the pieces together. Amanda's father does not like his daughter's interest and involvement in these murders, but at least Blake is there to keep an eye on things. Indiana Jackson is a holistic healer, a real crunchy-granola type. She is also knockout gorgeous and can get men to do whatever she asks, but she doesn't take advantage of that. She is in love with Alan Keller, who is from a wealthy family but doesn't like to work. Ryan, a former Navy SEAL who lost a leg in the war and now works for the CIA in some kind of clandestine manner, is a client of Indiana's. They are good friends, but he would like to be more than that. As I was reading the story, I thought there were too many characters to keep track of- Indiana's many clients, the Ripper team, police, murder victims- it felt overwhelming. But as the story got rolling, I saw how everything came together and it worked. Allende gives a few clues as to who the murderer may be, which I picked up on, but I had no idea how or why the murderer killed. The final resolution was a little hard to swallow, although the action scenes at the end were nail-biting. The characters in the story are well-drawn and interesting, and I was particularly interested in Ryan's backstory. If the mystery's resolution stretches credulity a bit, I am willing to go with it because I liked the characters so much. The book is translated from the Spanish by Ollie Brock and Frank Wynne, and they did a marvelous job. I would have never guessed that the author wasn't from San Francisco herself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Isabel Allende and have read nearly all of her books. While I enjoyed this new venture of hers, it is not her best one. But still I am glad I read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed most of Allende's books, but this one was hard to finish. The portrayal of the young characters read like a young adult book. The rest of the book fell a bit flat and read like a TV show. I guess they can't all be winners.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this one. The plot, twists and turns had me hooked!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting premise and overall a decent story. However I agree with some other reviews that there are too many character names and descriptions to keep up with. It's disorienting and detracts from the main plot. Also, all of the characters are vaguely off putting, even the ones you are supposed to like. I actually quite disliked Amanda and the ripper players were generic at best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read interestiing enough to hold your attention
LindaCAPA More than 1 year ago
Always descriptive and great to read but not her best novel.
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This book stinks
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Hi fireclaw
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of course!