Cops chase a killer targeting female college students and emulating the murders of Jack the Ripper in this thriller.
When the mutilated body of university student Jessica Hayden turns up, homicide detectives Mike Delaney and Dan Griffin are on the scene. Sgt. Victoria “Vicky” Bailey of the Violent Crimes Unit subsequently joining the case, however, will not make things less challenging for Mike. The couple’s relationship is currently on the skids, with Vicky wanting more emotion from Mike than he’s willing to give. But the investigation changes drastically once Mike receives a letter from the killer, signed Jack the Ripper and promising more murders to come. The cops have a heap of suspects from which to choose, though Mike favors professor John Foster, who reputedly had an affair with Jessica. After a second murder claims another female student, Vicky surmises that the killer has a link somehow to the university. Another letter follows as well, this time the writer sending visceral proof that he is indeed the murderer. It likewise seems he isn’t merely adopting Jack the Ripper as a name but duplicating his homicides, right down to the five deaths attributed to the infamous London serial killer. Certain that the new Ripper will soon be prowling the campus again, Vicky acts as a decoy, putting herself in danger to stop a vicious murderer. The story’s influx of suspicious characters makes pinpointing the guilty party exceedingly difficult—but undeniably fun. John, for one, is seeing psychiatrist Dr. Noel Oliver for, among other things, blackouts, happening roughly the same time as the murders. Similarly, campus security officer Armand Calo creepily leers at and occasionally approaches female students, while phys ed department director Alex Pollard is, rather ominously, growing bored with his extensive porn collection. Anez (The Blue Mirror, 2016, etc.) offers no relief with a sympathetic protagonist; Mike’s emotional detachment ultimately lumps him in with the other suspects, and it’s not clear how or why Vicky’s fallen for someone so cold. Nonetheless, scores of sordid, potential killers make for a truly unsettling experience and a genuine mystery, while a smashing twist in the latter half will stun some readers and upset most.
A dark and often grim homicide tale, but unrelentingly tense and never easy to predict.