Review: Ripper by Shelley Burr

This outstanding sophomore novel from Shelley Burr proves the Wake author is no one-hit wonder. Ripper reads like a storytelling fusion of Jane Harper and Candice Fox — Harper’s rich characterizations; Fox’s scorching narrative momentum.

Burr effortlessly conjures the personalities of a small town haunted by its tragic past. Seventeen years ago the Rainier Ripper’s killing spree ended with a third death at the teashop now owned by Gemma Guillory, who has lived in Rainier her whole life, and knows better than most how the town was affected. Her police officer husband played a key role in the killer’s capture — but really, Rainier has never truly recovered. Which makes the emergence of a Ripper copycat all the more disturbing. But more terrifying for Gemma: the murder occurred almost on her doorstep.

If the contours of this plot sound familiar — small town, old secrets, a killer on the loose — Burr packs in more than a few surprises, the most ingenious being the reintroduction of Lane Holland from Wake. Now in prison following on from the events of that book, Holland finds himself embroiled in the revived Rainier Ripper case, and sharing a room with the convicted killer.

Burr keeps the pot at a constant boil by flicking between his and Gemma’s perspectives. The plotting is airtight, the writing crisp and compelling, and the climactic twists land like thunderbolts. This is everything you want in a mystery.

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