Release Date: August 19, 2014
Format: Paperback, 402 pages
Genre: Science Fiction/Steampunk
Sorcery. Treason. Madness. And, of course, murder most foul...
Archibald Clare, mentath in the service of Britannia, is about his usual business--solving crimes and restoring public order until a shattering accident places him in the care of Emma Bannon, sorceress Prime, who once served...and now simply remains at home, tending her solarium in reasonably quiet contentment. What Clare needs now is time to recover, and not so incidentally, a measure of calm to repair his faculties of Logic and Reason. Without them, he is not his best. One could even say that without them, he is not even properly a mentath at all.
Unfortunately, calm and rest will not be found. There is a killer hiding in the sorcerous steam-hells of Londinium, stalking the Eastron End and unseaming poor women of a certain reputation. A handful of drabs murdered on cold autumn nights would make no difference...but the killings echo in the highest circles possible, and threaten to bring the entire edifice of Empire down in smoking ruins.
Now Emma Bannon, once more, is pressed into service and Archibald Clare, once more, is determined to aid her. The secrets between these two old friends may give an ambitious sorcerer the means to bring down the Crown. And there is still no way to reliably find a hansom when one needs it most.
Britannia is threatened. Londinium quakes. Sorcery births an unholy monster.
The game is afoot.
The Ripper Affair is the third installment in the Bannon & Clare series by Lilith Saintcrow. The series features Archibald Clare, mentath in the service of Britannia, and Emma Bannon, sorceress Prime, who once served the Queen as her go to point of contact. Emma hasn't left the house, and has ignored the Queens dispatches for assistance ever since The Red Plague Affair nearly killed her. The Red Plague Affair definitely caused major cracks in the relationship between Emma and the Queen who she is supposed to defend.
That all changes when Queen Victrix and the spiritual entity known as Britannia, arrive on Emma's doorstep and asks Emma's help in solving the brutal murders of women in Londinium which are draining Britannia of her powers. The Ripper Affair is an obvious play on Jack the Ripper, but with a magical villain who is just as vile and disgusting as the original Ripper. This is a twisted story on so many different levels and it really exposes rifts between Clare and Bannon who has had to look at things differently, instead of being all logical and reasoned.
I can tell you truthfully that I allowed my displeasure to show itself with some of my ravings while reading the book itself. Previous books have shown that Bannon and Clare work well together, and I had hoped that there was something more between them than just being friends. I was apparently wrong all along. Emma is a cold, cold character who shows no remorse at how she treats Clare or her Shield Mikal.
She is NOT the same person she was in the beginning of this series. She feels hurt, and lost, and uses her arrogance to ensure that Clare is nearly indestructible, while also keeping Mikal at a distance. She misses important clues to the identity of the villain, when it should have been clear as day who was responsible. I did like that there were some background information revealed about Emma that makes her a bit more human and not so righteous. I do like that Emma has a tendency to take in broken people and make them part of her family.
The Ripper Affair has the distinct feeling of being the final novel in this series, but there is no indication if that is in fact, factual or not. If so, it's too bad since there are more than a few questions that haven't been answered, especially when it comes to Mikal, and what he really is and how he is able to do the things he does. Guess it's all a matter of prospective. I do have hopes that if there is another book, that Clare is able to understand what Emma has done for him. It might have gone against his pleasure, but in the end, it does help him survive what's to come.