Allende is one of my favourite authors. Ripper, her first crime novel, is not one of her best but is still worth reading. One of Allende’s strengths is her capitivating characters and Ripper abounds with these. Healer and tantric therapist Indiana, is the heart of the novel. Her daughter Amanda is a geek wizard whose on-line friends tackle the task of uncovering the identity of the serial killer stalking San Francisco. At the first murder, “The Case of the Misplaced Baseball Bat”, where a school security guard is found dead by a class of fourth-graders, bent over a vaulting horse with a baseball bat stuffed into his rectum, she seizes on the occasion to rethink the strategy of Ripper, the interactive mystery game she plays online with “a select group of freaks and geeks from around the world.” The brainy players — including a paralyzed boy in New Zealand, a Canadian girl with an eating disorder and Amanda’s grandfather — will match wits with the real killer. Amanda’s father, bad news in high school when he seduced Indiana, is now deputy chief of police who is conducting an investigation into the serial killer but has trouble keeping up his daughter and her cohorts. Indiana has two main men in her life, one an ageing playboy, the other a disabled ex-navy Seal – are central players in the drama too, one ending up a murderee and the other a suspect for the series of deaths.

Lots of fun. Great writing.


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