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496 pages, Hardcover
First published December 3, 2013
They referred to the first murder as the Case of the Misplaced Baseball Bat, so as not to insult the victim by giving it a more explicit name. “They” were five teenagers and an elderly man who met up online for a role-playing game called Ripper.Instead of keeping to her online game acting out in London of 1888, she moved the game to San Francisco, 2011, never suspecting that her mother, Indiana Jackson, would number among its victims, and the game would turn violent and deadly. The game became a serious real life criminal investigation. To top it off, her godmother, Celeste Roko, the most famous astrologer in California, made a 'bloodbath' prediction for the last day of September 2011.
"Mom is still alive, but she’s going to be murdered at midnight on Good Friday,” Amanda Martín told the deputy chief, who didn’t even think to question the girl; she’d already proved she knew more than he and all his colleagues in Homicide put together. The woman in question was being held at an unknown location somewhere in the seven thousand square miles of the San Francisco Bay Area; if they were to find her alive, they had only a few hours, and the deputy chief had no idea where or how to begin.The way she talked and addressed her grandpa, Blake Jackson, had me rolling my eyes as well. Cultural difference. So yes, for some people she probably was cute, but for others, like yours truly, she was pirouetting on thin ice :-)
In his novel, he described his granddaughter Amanda as “idiosyncratic of appearance, timorous of character, but magnificent of mind”—his baroque use of language distinguishing him from his peers. His account of these fateful events would end up being much longer than he expected, even though—excepting a few flashbacks—it spanned a period of only three months. The critics were vicious, dismissing his work as magical realism—a literary style deemed passé—but no one could prove he had distorted the events to make them seem supernatural, since the San Francisco Police Department and the daily newspapers documented them.(Ms. Allende reacts here to the media's criticism of her work)
Furthermore—now in direct breach of the rules—she created for herself a henchman named Kabel, a dim-witted but loyal and obedient hunchback she tasked with obeying her every whim, however ridiculous. It didn’t escape her grandfather’s notice that the henchman’s name was an anagram of his own. At sixty-four, Blake Jackson was much too old for children’s games, but he agreed to participate in Ripper so he and his granddaughter would have something more in common than horror movies, chess matches, and the brainteasers they set each other—puzzles and problems he sometimes managed to solve by consulting a couple of friends who were professors of philosophy and mathematics at Berkeley.Through her father's job as Deputy Chief of the homicide division of San Franciso's Personal Crimes Division, Amanda discovered the evil in her idyllic city as well. San Francisco was no different from Sweden or Norway. The city was after all founded by rapacious prospectors, polygamous preachers, and women of easy virtue, all lured by the gold rush of the mid-nineteenth century.