by Shelley Burr
Publisher: Hachette Australia 2023
Gemma Guillory has lived in Rainier her entire life. She knows the tiny town’s ins and outs like the back of her hand, the people like they are her family, their quirks as if they were her own.
She knows her once-charming town is now remembered for one reason, and one reason only. That three innocent people died. That the last stop on the Rainier Ripper’s trail of death seventeen years ago was her innocuous little teashop. She knows that the consequences of catching the Ripper still haunt her police officer husband and their marriage to this day and that some of her neighbours are desperate – desperate enough to welcome a dark tourism company keen to cash in on Rainier’s reputation as the murder town.
When the tour operator is killed by a Ripper copycat on Gemma’s doorstep, the unease that has lurked quietly in the original killer’s wake turns to foreboding, and she’s drawn into the investigation. Unbeknownst to her, so is a prisoner named Lane Holland. Gemma knows her town. She knows her people. Doesn’t she?
by Louise Cipta
Ripper by Shelley Burr kept me intrigued with its plot twists and turns. I could not put it down.
Ripper is set in a small town near the border of NSW and Victoria which is struggling to keep locals. It has a reputation after three murders occurred 17 years ago, reminiscent of Snowtown, and now the bypass has diverted traffic to the Hume Highway. Weary drivers don’t stop anymore, tourists rarely visit, and the town is slowly dying.
An enterprising person hatches the idea to run murder tours to help the town rebuild, a plan that divides the town. Passions are ignited, especially among the families of some of the victims.
Gemma owns the Teahouse where the third victim died in her arms all those years ago when she was barely out of her teens. That night changed her life in so many ways. The murderer, dubbed the Rainer Ripper, was caught and he confessed to all three murders and has been in prison since.
Seventeen years later another murder, supposedly a copycat, is committed right outside the Teahouse where everyone is meeting to discuss the planned tours. Gemma starts her own investigation, one that leads her to question her life choices and her ability to know who to trust.
Whilst Gemma is searching for answers another investigation is taking place inside prison. Former Private Investigator, Lane Holland, is incarcerated with the Rainier Ripper himself. His involvement has been instigated by the governor who believes his missing daughter could possibly be one of the original victims.
When the two investigations collide, the real answers begin to emerge.
There is a huge cast of characters in Ripper, and you need to keep your wits about you to remember them and how they fit within the twisty plot. The characters are easy to relate to as people you meet in everyday life. The small-town setting means that it is a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone and knows their business.
It’s hard to keeps secrets in a small town. Yet when Gemma begins to investigate, she uncovers far more than clues about a killer. People she has known all her life have locked away their past indiscretions and even as Gemma digs deeper, she encounters angry resistance.
Ripper is a story of resilience. Of dark secrets. It explores themes of inherited trauma, violence, small town politics and the struggle to remain relevant. I highly recommend it.