A highly regarded author internationally in the United States, her native England and elsewhere, S. J. Bolton revisits one of history's most confounding and baffling series of murders in a contemporary setting, with a number of unexpected twists and turns thrown in for good measure. Presented in the form of a first-person narrative told by someone who knows much more than she's telling, NOW YOU SEE ME will keep you guessing and leave you thinking.
Presented in the form of a first-person narrative told by someone who knows much more than she's telling, NOW YOU SEE ME will keep you guessing and leave you thinking.
The book centers on Lacey Flint, an up-and-coming detective constable in London who literally stumbles upon a murder victim mere seconds after the attack took place. An enigmatic but well-known reporter receives a letter about the murder barely a day later, drawing comparisons between the killing and first canonical murder of Jack the Ripper. The letter also mentions Lacey by name. Lacey, as it turns out, has had an almost lifelong interest in the Ripper killings. It soon becomes clear that an extremely disturbed person is on the loose, bent on replicating the Ripper's bloody acts of almost a century previously. As more victims are discovered and the investigation proceeds, it's obvious that a tangential connection links the murdered women. Yet the link hardly seems to constitute a motive for the murders, leaving the police at something of a loss.
It is in fact Lacey who slowly becomes aware of who is committing the murders and why they are taking place. A superior officer assigned to the case suspects that Lacey knows much more than she is saying and that she may be the cause of the killings. He may be right, though not in the way he suspects. As the killer continues to strike on the anniversary of each of Jack's murders --- and notes are sent to potential victims --- the police find themselves in a race in which they are pitted against a wily and brilliant adversary, who in fact may be one of their own.
Bolton herself seems quite the expert on the Ripper exploits, and all but the most schooled in the lore of the Ripper will find much to learn here through the encyclopedic mind and disturbed emotions of Lacey. Bolton drops hints here, there and everywhere as to what is occurring, but anyone guessing the end may find themselves wrong once or twice as Bolton turns things upside down before revealing the sudden and jarring conclusion. The position of headliner, however, is shared by Lacey and the city of London itself, as Bolton takes on a geographical and historical tour of the city and its environs, jumping back and forth in time and space.
Mystery lovers and anglophiles will find much to enjoy and embrace here, as will those for whom the mystery of Jack the Ripper lives on.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 26, 2011