Three parts historical fiction, two parts horror story, and one part adventure/thriller, The Jekyll Revelation by Robert Masello was an interesting read. Masello’s book takes a look at the Jack the Ripper murders and a popular theory at the time of those murders, and asks the author if such a theory is too far-fetched.
The Jekyll Revelation follows two stories that run parallel to each other. The first is that of the famous author, Robert Louis Stevenson. The second story follows the more modern-day protagonist of Rafael Salazar who, through a series of what seem to be fated accidents, discovers the lost journal of Robert Louis Stevenson. That journal is the first tale that follows that author’s story as he fights his lung disease, writes a world changing story in the form of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and battles both his own inner demons and the rising tide of accusations that only someone so depraved as to write such an odd story as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde could possibly be Jack the Ripper.
On the flip side of this book is Rafael’s story. He’s a ranger who’s studying the movements and population size of a series of coyotes in California’s Topanga Canyon. His grant is constantly under threat of being taken away and he’s got a crush on his landlord who’s life is dominated by a wanna-be Hell’s Angel with a moped.
The two stories help to tell you more about each other, but I found that I just didn’t care about Rafael. A lot of his problems were just that, just his problem. Stevenson on the other hand, was telling a more thrilling tale that I kept dying to get back to. Where did Stevenson get the idea for Jekyll and Hyde? If Stevenson wasn’t the killer, did he know who was? And who’s the German who keeps following Stevenson around?
The book was great and well written, but Rafael’s story needed to be fleshed out more or have more repercussions. The weight of the consequences of his actions weren’t there for the reader. That’s something that leaves the story unbalanced in the light of the Stevenson journal.
I give this one a 4 out 5 stars. It’s still a compelling read, and I recommend it for the historical facts hidden in the narrative and the great Jack the Ripper story.