Set in the 1890’s in New York, Ripper follows a young boy, a young girl, and a bully-turned-friend (yes, the three-part party has been done before, but go with it) as they try to track down Jack the Ripper. The first well-known serial killer committed his murders in London, but the book theorizes that Jack made his way to the United States to cause trouble. The book is full of historical references but they do not seem like an encyclopedia entry that jars the narrative. The short chapters in Ripper benefit the pacing; the action occurs in tiny snippets. I like that. Where the pacing struggled, though, was in the scope of the mystery. Having figured it out pretty early on, I wanted more intrigue but had to settle for Ripper being more of an adventure book instead of a mystery.
Teddy Roosevelt is becoming more and more popular in fictional works and he’s fun in this one. What I appreciated was that Petrucha gave him flaws. For a historical figure who lived such a boisterous life, flaws like impatience develop him as a supporting character.
The discussion of nature versus nurture – What is it driving Jack the Ripper to kill? – is intriguing and gives some secondary motivation to Carver, the young protagonist. While I would have liked more development for Carver’s foils, the young girl and the former bully, Ripper is still an enjoyable read and worth having a copy on the shelf.