Jack the Ripper has to be one of the most famous - or should I say infamous - criminals in British history. Also known as The Whitechapel Murderer, he wreaked havoc on the streets of Victorian London, killing and mutilating a series of women, typically by slashing their throats and removing some of their internal organs. He was never found and even now, almost 130 years later, many people have a morbid fascination for his murders and trying to piece together his identity.
There have been numerous books written about Jack the Ripper, based on both fact and fiction, and Graeme Taylor's novel, Time Has Past, gives it an interesting, paranormal twist. I'm no expert on Jack the Ripper but the author seems to use the details of the genuine murders and victims in the narrative. He also introduces us to two characters, ex-soldier Peter Haines and policeman DI Knowles, who both, completely separately, stumble across a portal down a back alley in the heart of London, that magically transports them back to the same date and the same place but in the year 1888, in the midst of Jack the Ripper's bloody killing spree. The duo end up in a time-travelling cat and mouse game, with both aware of each other's presence in both worlds and wondering if they are Jack or one of his acolytes. What starts off as a morbid but fun jaunt into the past to witness the historical crimes and try to solve the mystery soon takes on a darker and more dangerous edge.
I found the concept of the portal between the two time periods intriguing but I thought that the plot and above all the characterisation needed to be further developed. All of the victims were reduced to names and a brief and sketchy paragraph giving a little information about their background and how they found themselves at the murder scene. I didn't feel particularly sorry for any of them because they were just ghostlike figures from the past, never fleshed out into living, breathing characters that I could empathise with. Similarly, the two time-travelling men had me feeling slightly confused about their motives and whether or not they were good guys or villains.
I wasn't expecting to come away from the novel with all of my questions about Jack the Ripper answered because generations of amateur detectives have tried and failed to pin him down, but I was hoping to have a much more in-depth knowledge of and feel for the victims, the atmosphere of Victorian London and the man himself and this wasn't really the case. The end was a bit of an anticlimax and I didn't get a sense of closure. It's only a short book (138 pages) and I would have preferred a longer novel with much greater detail of the people and places involved. It's an interesting read though, whether or not you're already interested in Jack the Ripper and his reign of terror.
star rating : 3/5
Disclosure : I received the book in order to write an honest review.