Petrucha (Split) breathes new life into the oft-visited Jack the Ripper genre, transporting the killer to New York City and using some well-chosen historical figures to flesh out the tale. In 1895, seven years after the Ripper's killing spree in England, 14-year-old Carver Young's place in an orphanage is threatened due to financial crises, and he becomes apprenticed to a Pinkerton agent, Albert Hawking. Carver gets caught up in the politics of the agency and the rise of a mysterious murderer in New York City, one whose motif resembles that of the famous killer, and whose writing style implies that he might be Carver's long-missing father. Along with fellow orphan (and aspiring journalist) Delia, Carver investigates the case and his own background. Petrucha's story hits the ground running and doesn't let up, the brisk pace making the inevitable twists effective; he also incorporates some fun steampunk-style gadgetry (an author's note discusses his choices). Appearances by the Pinkertons, the Ripper, and then New York City police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt add flair to the historical setting. Ages 12-up. Agent: Joe Veltre, the Veltre Company. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gr 6-10-Petrucha combines historical fiction with a classic detective story and even some hints of steampunk. He paints a detailed picture of late-19th-century New York, featuring reform-minded police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt and Pinkerton Detectives. Carver Young is desperate for information about his father-desperate enough to risk death-by-meat-cleaver (a not so subtle allusion to the Sword of Damocles) and break into the orphanage's files. For his efforts he is rewarded with a single, cryptic, hand-written page from his father. The would-be sleuth then begins an exciting investigation that takes him all over New York City, from the sewers to high-society soirees, from an insane asylum to an underground crime lab, and from the relative safety and boredom of the orphanage to life-or-death, high-speed chases. Could Jack the Ripper really be Carver's father and is the teen up to the task of catching him? While the dialogue is sometimes inconsistent, there is plenty of action and suspense to keeps teens reading. Fans of Arthur Slade's "The Hunchback Assignments" (Random) will tear through this one.-Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
When New York City orphan Carver Young begins searching for the father he never knew, he attempts to enlist the help of police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt. Instead, he gets adopted by a brilliant, eccentric ex-Pinkerton whose mission is to pass on a lifetime's worth of detective knowledge to his young protege. Meanwhile, a killer stalks the city's upper crust in a manner eerily similar to the killings in London eight years earlier. Though it takes Carver half the book to figure out what the reader knows from page one (namely, that dad, the killer, and Jack the Ripper are one and the same), from that point on, this is a roaringly good adventure, with a diabolical twist or two awaiting the young detective. Some near-steampunk gadgetry, a secret underground crime lab, razor-sharp splashes of bloodletting, and a widely entertaining cast of characters (Roosevelt is especially zesty) all help to push through some repetitive plotting and outfit this historical mystery with loads of modern appeal. While more is likely in store for young Carver, this stands just fine alone.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist