Review of Stephen Hunter’s “I,Ripper,” Including Literary Tea Recommendation &Special Giveaway

CONTEST ALERT: We are giving away one complimentary copy of the following book, Details can be found below, as to how to enter for your chance to win a copy of this smashing, heart-pounding thriller, I, Ripper, featuring the iconic Jack-the-Ripper.

Amazon/Barnes& Nobles/Simon Schuster/IndieBound/Goodreads

The electrifying new thriller from New York Times bestseller Stephen Hunter takes you deep inside the mind of the most notorious serial killer of all time: Jack the Ripper.

In the fall of 1888, Jack the Ripper slaughtered five prostitutes in London’s seamy Whitechapel District. He did not just kill—he ripped with a butcher’s glee—and then, after the particularly gruesome slaying of Mary Jane Kelly, he disappeared. For 127 years, Jack has haunted the dark corners of our imagination, the paradigm of the psychotic killer. We remember him not only for his crimes, but because, despite one of the biggest dragnets in London history, he was never caught.

I, Ripper is a vivid reimagining of Jack’s personal story entwined with that of an Irish journalist who covered the case, knew the principals, charted the investigation, and at last, stymied, went off in a bold new direction. These two men stalk each other through a city twisted in fear of the madman’s blade, a cat-and-mouse game that brings to life the sounds and smells of the fleshpot tenderloin of Whitechapel and all the lurid acts that fueled the Ripper headlines.

Dripping with intrigue, atmosphere, and diabolical twists, this is a magnificent psychological thriller from perennial New York Times bestseller Stephen Hunter, who the San Francisco Examiner calls “one of the best storytellers of his generation.” – See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/I-Ripper/Stephen-Hunter/9781476764856#sthash.yPOgeheK.dpuf.

Synopsis, Courtesy of Simon and Schuster

Giveaway Details: We are giving away one copy of I, Ripper, courtesy of the publisher. Right below these instructions, there will be a tea-related image that will have a link to a Rafflecopter App embedded in it,  from where you’ll be prompted to accomplish different tasks, in order to earn entries that raise your chance of possibly winning a copy of this dark, gore-drenched Victorian thriller, written by Stephen Hunter.

**Contest Ends  Wednesday July 8, 2015 at 11:59 Eastern. At that time, the Rafflecopter App will randomly select a winner. This contest is only open to those from either the US and Canada. If you have won, you will be notified immediately via email, asking for your contact information, which will be safely forwarded to the publisher. The publisher will then be sure to mail you the copy that you have won!

**Enter the contest, by clicking the below image with the enticing cup of the Jasmine Pearl Tea, from tea company: Two Buds and a Leaf.**

Click on photo above, to acess the Rafflecopter App for this contest!
Click on photo above, to acess the Rafflecopter App for this contest!

Review:

If you are someone that is quite disposed to being squeamish when reading scenes involving graphic gore, gratuitous disembowelment of any kind, you may want to skip this book, and instead read the safe, happy Littlest Elf, something far more assuredly cloying and non-threatening..

It took me a month of deliberately slow-reading because this book really contains every minute  detail that runs through the mind of a truly depraved mind with sociopath/murderous tendencies. Stephen Hunter’s newest visceral thriller, recounting the thought patterns of the elusive late 19th century murderer Jack-the-Ripper, is written in such a intimate way that it is very overtaxing, and even exhausting for the morally-sensitive reader.  It is unsparing in its grotesqueness at times;therefore, only certain times of readers will really enjoy this work. I can understandably see some some being turned-off by this, and I respect the fact that they may want to exercise some caution.

None of this is meant to be construed as any criticism, per-say, about the quality of the writing . Rather, I wanted to first start off this review with praising Stephen Hunter for not shying away from the more unpalatable, gruesome, and downright disgusting details about the various unorthodox methods the Jack-the-Ripper killer utilizes when tearing into  a whore’s flesh with a knife, sullied by the blood of many slain whores. Also, we really get a very deep glimpse of his thought patterns, all while this is occurring on the page.

His chapters book-end some very fascinating inter-lapping perspective from a passionate Irish journalist, who envisages himself as the spiritual cousin of Sherlock Holmes.  These more domestic, less gore-drenched chapters act as an intellectual hiatus from the more grimy, primeval images that persist in Jack-the-Ripper’s chapters, all written in epistolary (mostly letter form), and it is this very active Irish Journalist who encapsulates the far-flung heroics of the straight-laced moral elite of Victorian Society, whereas Jack-the Ripper lurks in the subconscious underbelly, much in the same way that a certain figurative “black cat” used within Edgar Allen Poe’s infamous short story by the same title The Black Cat. In that story, the incessantly meowing “black cat, cleverly acts as a simulacrum (a symbol pointing to a deeper reality) of insidious nature of the omnipresent, almost cruelly omniscient sense of our darkest selves, representing our deeply repressed criminal urges. Fascinatingly, Stephen Hunter uses the very shadowy, almost enigmatic figure of the fabled Jack-the-Ripper, as a bogey, or simulacrum of English society, who clearly points deeper to an undesirable mire of sins committed by the elite class against the lower social classes. The novel contains some glimpses of social critique, enmeshed within what may deceptively seem like pointlessly gorey scenes. But they aren’t, they often eloquently point to a more somber reality about this era.

Even though it is ostensibly a Victorian Thriller, the novel is an ocean filled to the brim with motifs, themes, and images, commonly associated with well-known Victorian Classics, including Hard Times by Charles Dickens. Sometimes, Stephen Hunter doesn’t let the subtle, quieter elements of his story come to the scene, as the story is very much frenetic, dizzying, and chaotic, as it flits from the perspective of one deeply inquisitive journalist, yearning to earn a heroic honor as the one that once and for all vanquishes Jack-the-Ripper; to the more gratuitous, oftentimes verbose scenes, describing the shadowy Jack-the-Ripper’s intense murder sessions. Sometimes, the writing does get maybe a bit too unrestrained for my own personal tastes, but yet there’s something equally smashing and brilliant about this superfluity of his writing because it does perfectly mirror the tense, rapidly-escalating violent nature of a sociopath’s or murder’s mind that never has any internal moral grounding of sorts.

Without a sharp sense of a paradigm to ground someone’s wayward murderous or sadistic mindset, they are free-floating, and perhaps exceedingly unfettered to the point of being a menace to society. But yet, even the most insensible evil, as with Jack-the-Ripper, holds us in their thrall, just like the ever-attentive press, featured throughout the story, trying to shed a light on this dark world that coexists both within our own microcosm of a society, and even more disturbingly, within our own minds. This is really the trigger point that makes these stories so impossible to not read and be fascinated by them. Like one of my own personal favorite films Silence of the Lambs, the mind of the sociopath or killer, when written about in a raw, unsparing way is a strangely enthralling, fascinating experience.

Don’t expect an easy ride, sometimes this story is excessive, yet it is so richly enthralling for the right sort of reader, who can appreciate the excesses, as a stroke of effectively mirroring the psychological landscape of the ‘mind of the killer.” This is a conundrum we all wish to figure out, and perhaps Stephen Hunter’s own excessive prose at times needed this lack of restraint to give us an extremely visceral glimpse into the type of psyche that will always endlessly fascinate us: the mind of the “Hyde,” the mind of the ‘killer,” a frightful reflection of our own propensity towards uncivil evil. Evil repulses us, yet something keeps us from looking away, nonetheless.

LITERARY TEA RECOMMENDATION:

Two Leaves and a Bud’s “Jasmine Pearls”

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These are amazingly flavorful, super delicate Jasmine Pearls. When you open the bag you are enfolded with an absolutely stunning jasmine scent. Close your eyes and you are in a field of flowers. The dry tea is the classic little pearl, but the similarities to other jasmine pearls end there. The infused leaf is exquisite; when the pearls unfold you will clearly see two perfect leaves and their bud. The flavor of the first steep combines the jasmine overtone with full green tea flavor – sweet and not smoky at all. As you re-steep the second or third time, you get more and more green tea and slightly less jasmine. It’s a lovely all-afternoon cup. We expect these will be the best pearls to leave China this season.

Description Courtesy of Two Leaves and a Bud

Sometimes truly unsettling and capriciously violent reads can bludgeon the sanity out of us, leaving us reeling for something so delightfully fragrant, familiar, sweet to settle our shaken nerves. That is why the perfect tea for accompanying your intense reading of this incredibly unsavory read is a savory type of tea: like the Jasmine Pearl Tea, from awesome tea company Two Leaves and a Bud.  The tea carries a comforting greenish, almost slight yellow tight, though the careful observer will notice a lurking amber glow in the middle. This type of complexity of the very shades of colors, reflected in the tea, shows that depth belies supposed sweetness. Chillingly, sociopaths like Jack-the-Ripper are seemingly charismatic types of fellows, until they knock the wind out of you without forewarning, when they begin gruesomely, and quite frightfully, tearing into your flesh.

If you are overwhelmed and chilled to the core by such a strange paradox of character, you will definitely want to start drinking the Jasmine Pearl tea immediately, which has a significantly sweet, almost ‘tender’ jasmine taste, which compliments the slight sour tang of the Green Tea element. But both seem to mutually coexist, and this warm, reliable sweetness should assuage you of the restlessness left by those disturbing scenes you’ll witness while reading this story.

I cannot imagine a more perfect tea for benefit of surviving reading countless pages of gore-drenched disemboweling. Where was this tea when we were all collectively horrified by the infamously violent Red-Wedding scene from the Games of Thrones series?

Simply put, the art of mastering a perfectly smooth, though deliciously tangy Jasmine Green Tea (by way of pearls that bloom and unfurl within your tea cup) is one that is very hard to master. The Jasmine Pearl Tea, from Two Leaves and a Bud, is not simply recommended to endure some of the horrors of reading about a violently disposed individual, like Jack-the-Ripper, it is a must!  Otherwise, you may not not come out emotionally, or psychologically unscathed, after reading this intense, though strangely enthralling novel.

Save some of your spare pearls for another Red Wedding!

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