Emmanuel Ortiz holds an ancient and dark secret...
His real name is Judas Iscariot.
Forced to walk the earth as a cursed immortal, Judas' disguise as Emmanuel does little to ease his eternal loneliness. Having recovered nine of his thirty blood coins, his focus is not yet on redemption for his treacherous role in the betrayal of Jesus Christ.
Distractions come easily for the rich entrepreneur and sometimes sleuth who presently resides in England, 1888. Fascinated by the spate of murders in London's poverty stricken Whitechapel, Emmanuel soon realizes the killings resemble others he is familiar with, and the bloody signature of killing and taunts speaks to the unholy talents of yet another immortal...an enemy from long ago.
This knowledge fuels his determination to track and apprehend the infamous Jack the Ripper at any cost.
With the backdrop of a Victorian Society, rigid and moralistic, along with the plight of those less fortunate, Emmanuel seeks to align himself with Scotland Yard. With the help of his immortal pal, Roderick Cooley, and by pretending to be an American private investigator interested in the horrific prostitute killings, he sets out to stop the senseless bloodshed. But, has he bitten off more than he can chew, by immersing himself in the slums and disease of the Ripper's hunting grounds?
As the mystery unfolds it becomes the ultimate test...not only of his abilities as an immortal, but also of his very soul.
This book has an amazing premise with an execution that is...lacking. The book is just all over the place.
Judas thinks once he found the 30 silver coins his immortality will end and he will age normally. Judas tells a friend that a major injury might still kill him. Judas suddenly knows that a beheading will certainly kill him.
It makes sense that immortality doesn't come with a manual, but that was just odd. A clear explanation of what he knows for sure and what he suspects would have been nice (that would have been an occasion where I hadn't minded a bit of infodumping...the author clearly isn't averse to it since he also told us the life-story of several completely irrelevant characters).
There is some good stuff as well: Judas has a fellow immortal friend who had the misfortune of not looking like a healthy, middle-aged men. He has to disguise his paleness and his eyes constantly, but still sticks out so much that he's met with some suspicion. That's just a nice detail that isn't included in many stories about immortality (even nicer would have been if the main character would have had to deal with that problem...)
But the rest...Judas feels like a failed try at an unreliable narrator. He says he cares und is looking for redemption but then imports opium and sells it to illegal opium dens (he also imports "cotton, gold, diamonds, tea, spices" no where did that come from?
he does change his opinion on the opium but not a word about the other stuff).
There was a weird jumping back and forth between extremes going on. He can't do anything for the people in the East End. He throws money at them. Child labour sucks but happens. He feels bad about getting others in trouble. He thinks it's mostly their fault anyway...it felt like reading the First Person narration of about five different people. And not only when it come to his (lack of) guilt: the first time they get an incredibly vague description of a guy who might be the Ripper Judas immediately thinks that this sounds like a fellow immortal whom he knows to be violent and who hates woman. And then he suddenly doesn't even consider other possibilities. No, it just has to be him...later he gets a second description, that also matches and then he thinks 'Previously I had doubts but now I was sure it had to be him.' You had doubts? When?
Also he talks a lot about how this immortal is much stronger than him and he could never beat him in a fight (except a duel. Perhaps...oh ffs I'm tired of listing all the contradictions in this book). But he never explains why. It doesn't seem to be a simple case of 'he's a better fighter'. Somehow Judas considers him totally out of his league because...because...whatever
It might have made some sense if he'd been an older immortal, but he's almost 1000 years younger than Judas so what makes him so special? No idea.
I understand that the beginning of a series needs to leave some questions open but there were too many things that just did not make sense at all.
Which is sad because the bits that dealt with Judas's guilt over betraying Jesus were actually done really well (AND CONSISTENT) and showed glimpses of how this could have been a really good book but alas...
Review Copy provided by the Curiosity Quill Press.