18 December 2023

Review: RIPPER, Shelley Burr

Synopsis (publisher)

Gemma Guillory has lived in Rainier her entire life. She knows the tiny town's ins and outs like the back of her hand, the people like they are her family, their quirks as if they were her own.

She knows her once-charming town is now remembered for one reason, and one reason only. That three innocent people died. That the last stop on the Rainier Ripper's trail of death seventeen years ago was her innocuous little teashop. She knows that the consequences of catching the Ripper still haunt her police officer husband and their marriage to this day and that some of her neighbours are desperate - desperate enough to welcome a dark tourism company keen to cash in on Rainier's reputation as the murder town.

When the tour operator is killed by a Ripper copycat on Gemma's doorstep, the unease that has lurked quietly in the original killer's wake turns to foreboding, and she's drawn into the investigation. Unbeknownst to her, so is a prisoner named Lane Holland. Gemma knows her town. She knows her people. Doesn't she?

My Take

The outback town of Rainer has been dying for 17 years, ever since a killer, nicknamed The Ripper, put it on the map by murdering 3 of its residents. Since then the highway has by-passed the town and businesses have dwindled. Gemma is in an uneasy marriage with one of the town's policemen, and is the mother of a teenage daughter.

Now a tourism operator has held out a helping hand and is offering to run a macabre tour based on the events 17 years ago. The families affected are meeting together to agree to the tour. But while they are talking, the tourism operator himself is murdered, his body left in the fountain where the first murder took place.

There are lots of little twists in the plot as Gemma tries to find out who has committed the murder. The reader has a lot to do in working out the little secrets, who is married to who, whose children are whose and so on, but I found the narrative disjointed. The problem was exacerbated by the addition of external plot strands, particularly the decision to interview the original Ripper.

My rating: 4.5 

I've also read 4.8, WAKE

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