The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Published by Harper Collins.

I’m a bit of a sucker for most books which make some comment or have the most tenuous link to the Jack the Ripper murders and have already read the best of these from this year’s batch: Now You See Me by SJ Bolton.

Having said that, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson came as a very pleasant surprise to me.  With a blurb by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments) and cover art which suggested a more romantic YA title, this first ‘Shades of London’ book manages to traverse the divide between YA and mainstream adult fiction very nicely indeed.  Despite the book’s opening with young Louisiana High School student, Rory Deveaux, settling into her London boarding school dorm and all of the ‘getting to know you’ banter between her and the other girls, this early forties male found the tone and the story very entertaining as Rory finds her way through her early days at school against the backdrop of what appear to be a series of copycat Ripper killings.

And then, Rory becomes directly involved in the case, being the only person to witness a man who appears to be the killer, despite the fact that nobody else with her saw the man who passed right by her.

She begins to discover that nothing is quite as it seems, dorm-mates might not be who they claim to be, and the Police – well, they are something else entirely.  Rory has skills she is unaware of until the ripper killings begin to reveal them to her, and the Police – or the Ghost Police (the Shades) – want her to help them put a stop to the slaughter that appears the work of a phantom.

The Name of the Star delivers both as a nice twist on a modern Ripper tale and as a new supernatural crime book which spells great things ahead for a series and will make you consider those foggy London streets this winter in a disturbing new way.

Keith

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