Wednesday, September 5, 2012
A Ripping Good Time: The Rhondda Ripper by G.M. Dobbs
What’s it got?
1. Murders - and plenty of them - committed mostly with knives.
2. A unique setting (1903-04 Wales).
3. An engaging detective.
4. Buffalo Bill Cody, complete with horse, guns and bigger than life personality.
5. A Jack the Ripper connection.
Any two of those elements could be counted on to deliver an entertaining story, but all five add up to a ripping good time.
This novel was first published in early 2011 as A Policeman’s Lot. I bought a copy, but had no device to enjoy it on, so it languished until I got a Kindle, and discovered I also had the revised (and retitled) version, The Rhondda Ripper (named for the River Rhondda, which flows through the area). So the revised version is what I read.
Frank Parade is a long-suffering police inspector trying to bring law and order to the Welsh town of Pontypridd. Making his job difficult are incompetent underlings, a superior who cares more for appearances than for justice, and a populace jealous of their right to hedonistic pleasures.
Into this mix comes Buffalo Bill and the five hundred cowboys, Indians, Cossacks and carnies that comprise his Wild West Show. And right away, people start getting their throats slit.
Buffalo Bill is a major character in the book, sometimes as an obstacle to Parade, sometimes an ally, and always as an irritant. But Bill, like Parade, comes across as a real – and genuinely likeable character.
And did I mention the Jack the Ripper connection? Yes I did, and that’s all I’m going to say about it. For the rest, you’ll have to read it yourself.
RACIAL DISCLAIMER: My father was Welsh, and his family hailed from Aberdare (a town not far from Pontypridd, and also visited briefly in the book). Did that influence my opinion of the book? Nah. But it does make me wonder if my grandfather – or some of his kinsmen – attended one of the Buffalo Bill shows in the area.