Upon arriving in London from Louisiana for the school year, high-school senior Rory is told that someone “pulled a Jack the Ripper” the night before. She assumes the phrase is some quaint British colloquialism she has yet to learn, not an actual reference to a gruesome murder committed on the same date — August 31 — and in the same location. The smart, breezy, self-deprecating narration and textured boarding school atmosphere provide easy entrance to this increasingly eerie murder mystery in which the only sure thing is the schedule — Jack’s. On September 8, the anniversary of the Ripper’s second strike, police find another body near Wexford, Rory’s school. Johnson raises the stakes even further after Rory has a near-death experience, starts seeing people her classmates don’t, and falls in with a ragtag undercover group investigating the possibility that the murders have a paranormal explanation. Suspenseful and utterly absorbing, this first book in the Shades of London series will leave readers glad that Johnson, like her copycat killer, plans to return to the scene of the crime.
From the September/October 2011 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.