Hands of the Ripper. Book Review


Hammer Books, p/b £6.99

Reviewed by David Brzeski

When I reviewed Shaun Hutson’s X The Unknown from this series, I watched the film version first, to better compare the two. I ended up regretting that. I found I’d have preferred not having all the suspense ruined by more than my vague memories of having seen the film over 30 years prior to reading the book.

This time I decided to leave watching the movie until after reviewing the book.

I’m pleased to say it works well enough as a novel without relying on any affection for any previous version of the story. Although Jonathan Rigby’s notes in the forward, about the original version of the novel, by Edward Spencer Shew intrigued me enough that I now want to track down a copy of that long out of print book.

Guy Adams’ greatest strength as a writer is his flair for natural dialogue. No doubt this stems from his years as an actor before switching to writing. The reader gains such a clear image of the characters from simply reading how they talk that they are pulled into the book very quickly. I had planned on just starting the book, but ended up finishing it in a single sitting.

Given the instruction from the publisher to update the story, Adams is pretty much forced to sever any ties with the original Jack the Ripper. Instead he uses a contemporary serial killer he dubs ‘The East End Ripper’.

The author pitches the story in such a way that the reader can make up his/her own mind as to whether or not any supernatural influences play any part in the proceedings. Dr. John Pritchard is half-convinced his dead wife is haunting him, which is how he becomes involved in the whole sorry mess in the first place. He imagines her guiding him at the end, but there’s certainly no hard and fast evidence that this isn’t simply his own subconscious at work. As for the tragic Anna, Adams makes clever use of the fact that multiple personality disorder was associated with demonic possession in less enlightened times.

I’m again pleasantly surprised to be able to recommend a film novelisation so highly.