Monday, May 27, 2019

The Lover (Spoilerific Review)

The Lover (2004) by Laura Wilson is a historical mystery set in England during World War II and based on the true story of the "Blackout Ripper." Like his predecessor, Jack, the Blackout Ripper set his sights on women who were known or rumored to be prostitutes. He got his name because he worked at night during the blackout years of the war in London. The actual murderer, Gordon Cummins was accused of murdering four women, found guilty and hanged for the murder of one of them, and suspected of killing two more. Wilson's book fictionalizes the story--crediting her murderer with three described deaths and implying more. However, one of the murders is laid at the feet of the man who had been living off the earnings of the prostitute and the book's end seems to imply that the actual killer escapes formal justice, but is missing--presumed dead in the war. A very unsatisfactory ending for those of us who like to see the killer get his just desserts in the final chapter.

This book is a mess. It changes point of view in every chapter. Sometimes that works, but more often than not, it doesn't. And it definitely doesn't here. The reader has little chance to become comfortable with the characters and have much connection to them because as soon as you start to settle down with a character, Wilson bounces us over to somebody else. The sole exception, is the kindly prostitute Rene Tate...which is unfortunate because, of course, she doesn't survive. Poor Rene who looked like she might have found an understanding man with whom she could settle down and get herself off of the game.

The descriptions of the murders are much more violent than I expected from this sort of historical mystery. Very off-putting and it made me skim more of the book than I should have liked--but when the killer showed such glee at what he was able to do with a poker and a can opener....Well, I just couldn't do it. 

Not a book that I feel like spending a great deal of effort on reviewing and definitely not one that I can recommend. 

Finished: 5/17/19
Three deaths (unless in skimming I missed something) = two strangled, one stabbed (and all mutilated after the fact. Ick.)

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