Leah Greenblatt
January 22, 2014 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Ripper

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Isabel Allende
publisher
HarperCollins
genre
Thriller

We gave it a C-

Crime writing may be the supermarket-checkout stepchild to ”real” literature, but it’s still a serious craft — one that Allende, alas, hasn’t mastered. The descriptive gifts that serve the Chilean-bred author so well in her lyrical memoirs and historical novels largely abandon her here: The characters in The Ripper’s San Francisco serial-killer tale, including a kooky aromatherapist and her teen daughter, an aging playboy, and a gruff Navy SEAL, are exhaustively curlicued and speak in awkward exposition. The book’s prose is marbled where it should be lean, and the big reveal comes far too late for us to care. C-

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