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Friday, July 27, 2012

Hardcover Review: Ripper by David L Golemon

The Event Group is a secret US government agency, led by Major Jack Collins, that has been tasked with eliminating those threats that many of us dismiss as myth, conspiracy, or sheer fiction. Having first appeared in Event, where the aliens of Roswell were the focus, the team has carried on through to this, their seventh adventure. In Ripper, as the you may guess from the title, David L. Golemon has made Jack the Ripper (or, more accurately, his legacy) the focus.

It's always dangerous to mess around with world history, especially when you're embellishing it with fictional history, but Golemon takes a smart approach here. His book is equal parts science-fiction drama, comic book adventure, and blockbuster action flick. Unlike so many authors who try to imbue these kinds of stories with some sort of artificial significance, or thought-provokingly topical relevance, Golemon simply invites us to grab a bag of popcorn, suspend our disbelief, and enjoy the ride.

The novel begins by introducing us to the 'real' Jack the Ripper, an American scientist who is both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In fact, it's Robert Louis Stevenson himself who tips off Scotland Yard as to the Ripper's identity, much to the displeasure of the Americans . . . and Queen Victoria. Skip ahead a hundred years or so, and we meet the members of the Event Group working to recover the lost notes and samples of the Ripper - who, as it turns out, was largely responsible for shaping the latter stages of Patton's career. In terms of sheer audacity, it's one hell of a way to begin a story, but I loved it.

Detractors of the series will complain that the heroes and villains here are somewhat stereotypical, and that the dialogue is definitely cheesy at times. So what? This isn't high literature, it's the literary equivalent of a summer blockbuster! The heroes are likeable, admirable, and well-worth rooting for. Similarly, the villains are absolutely despicable, but they're damned entertaining. I daresay I can recite more lines of dialogue from this book than any I've read this year, and fellow readers recognize them immediately.

This is a story that's full of action, imagination, and even some morbid humour. The writing is solid, the pacing is quick, and the twists are almost as much fun as the cliffhangers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am definitely ready for more.

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