Book Review: THE RIPPER’S WIFE by Brandy Purdy

The Ripper's Wife
Publisher: Kensington
Released: October 27, 2014
Source: Review copy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Rating: ★★★¾

A suspenseful, spellbinding novel of love, jealousy, and murder, The Ripper’s Wife re-imagines the most notorious serial killer in history through the eyes of the woman who sealed his fate.

“Love makes sane men mad and can turn a gentle man into a fiend.”

It begins as a fairytale romance – a shipboard meeting in 1880 between vivacious Southern belle Florence Chandler and handsome English cotton broker James Maybrick. Courtship and a lavish wedding soon follow, and the couple settles into an affluent Liverpool suburb.

From the first, their marriage is doomed by lies. Florie, hardly the heiress her scheming mother portrayed, is treated as an outsider by fashionable English society. James’s secrets are infinitely darker–he has a mistress, an arsenic addiction, and a vicious temper. But Florie has no inkling of her husband’s depravity until she discovers his diary–and in it, a litany of bloody deeds…

THE RIPPER’S WIFE is a dark and gruesome story, told from the point of view of the famous murderer’s wife, Florie. James and Florence Maybrick were real people – James, a cruel cotton broker with a drug addiction, and Florie, his much younger, shallow wife. They had a troubled marriage almost from the beginning, but was it enough to drive James over the edge of sanity? This novel is an intriguing blend of historical fact and fiction, answering the question of what might have happened if James Maybrick was the deranged killer, Jack the Ripper.

It took some time for me to get into the book, but once James’s diary entries were revealed, I was hooked. This book was well-researched, and the author has a knack for including historical details – though readers be warned, some are quite disturbing. I can’t say that any of the characters were particularly likable, but maybe they weren’t supposed to be. There were a few times I wanted to shake Florie and tell her to snap out of it! Of course, James/Jack was horrible, but it was so interesting to get a peek inside his head and learn what drove his madness.

Though not for readers sensitive to violence or foul language, THE RIPPER’S WIFE is compelling historical fiction that gives a convincing argument that perhaps James Maybrick was Jack the Ripper.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.