The fascination with Jack the Ripper, who terrorized London’s Whitechapel area beginning in 1888, never seems to wane. For more than 120 years, facts and myths about the deranged killer have melded until even Ripperists find separating reality from fiction difficult. Jack the Ripper, who was never caught, has spawned a plethora of nonfiction books about who he might have been and just as many novels that use those crimes as a background.

While S.J. Bolton uses the Ripper legend in her excellent fourth thriller, this British author succeeds in ways that many authors have not. In Now You See Me, Bolton parallels Jack the Ripper’s crimes with the string of insidious gang rapes of young girls in some of South London’s poorest neighborhoods. Bolton delicately weaves these contemporary crimes throughout the plot, illustrating that the new victims felt as powerless and invisible as did the prostitutes that Ripper preyed on.

But Now You See Me also works as a complex psychological tale about a young woman rebuilding her life, trying to find her identity and come to terms with her past. Det. Constable Lacey Flint has just finished interviewing a teenage rape victim when she finds a woman left to die on the young cop’s car on the anniversary of the Ripper’s first reported killing. The connection to Jack the Ripper is obvious, especially when a journalist receives a letter similar to what Scotland Yard received in 1888. Lacey is a Ripper expert and she is assigned to help a task force that is frustrated by the increasing violence. While trying to solve the crimes, Lacey also begins to worry about her own fractured past becoming public when she notices an unusual pattern to the murders.

Although Now You See Me deals with the violence that Jack the Ripper rained down on London, Bolton is careful to concentrate more on the plot’s psychological aspects. Now You See Me is a cerebral thriller that avoids clichés. Each twist and turn is unpredictable as are the fully drawn characters’ actions. Bolton’s other three novels have explored the chilling emotions that seethe beneath the surface of small British villages. The urban setting of Now You See Me expands Bolton’s noir storytelling.

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