Author: Isabel Allende, 2013. Translated from the Spanish by Oliver Brock and Frank Wynne, 2014.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Thriller. Serial Killers.
Other Details: Softback. 496 pages.
For Amanda Martín and her friends, Ripper was all just a game. But when security guard Ed Staton is found dead in the middle of a school gym, the murder presents a mystery that baffles the San Francisco police, not least Amanda’s father, Deputy Chief Martín. Amanda goes online, offering ‘The Case of the Misplaced Baseball Bat’ to her fellow sleuths as a challenge to their real-life wits. And so begins a most dangerous obsession.
The murders begin to mount up but the Ripper players, free from any moral and legal restraints, are free to pursue any line of enquiry. As their unique power of intuition lead them ever closer to the truth, the case becomes all too personal when Amanda’s mother suddenly vanishes. Could her disappearance be linked to the serial killer? And will Amanda and her online accomplices solve the mystery before it’s too late? - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
I loved this novel. While it is crime fiction there were elements that were reminiscent of the character-based story telling of Arimistead Maupin's 'Tales of the City' series, which are also set in San Francisco. I found it an engaging crime novel though one perhaps with sensibilities closer to Eurocrime. That its main character, Amanda, is addicted to Scandinavian crime novels may indicate that Isabel Allende was also influenced by these as she made this venture into crime fiction for the first time in her career.
It appears from scanning reviews to be a Marmite book - people seem to love or hate it. While I admired the focus on a diverse cast of eccentric characters this seems to have been what disappointed some readers who perhaps prefer more gritty action-based crime fiction.