Set in current-day California, environmental scientist Rafael Salazar is on a routine patrol when he finds an old trunk in a dried-up lakebed. Within the trunk is a journal written by Robert Louis Stevenson in the late 1800s. Little does Rafe realize just how amazing and ominous a tale the journal contains—a tale revolving around Jack the Ripper and the basis for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
As Rafe reads Stevenson’s journal, he begins to notice some striking similarities between Stevenson’s account and some unusual events going on around him. Unbeknownst to him, the contents of the old trunk had, along with the journal, included a flask.
Within the flask was what was left of an elixir that inspired Stevenson to write Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Rafe had not been the only person to get his hands on the trunk, and the flask has fallen into somebody else’s possession. Somebody who doesn’t intend to use it for good.
In his latest offering, The Jekyll Revelation, author Robert Masello skillfully blends fiction and historical fact together as his story switches between Rafael Salazar’s narrative and entries from Stevenson’s journal. Though there isn’t an immediate relationship made between the past and present storylines, Masello draws you in with an engaging story, especially the historical aspect revolving around Stevenson, making the wait well worth it.
The flip side, however, is that Masello’s writing, while technically solid, does start to feel a bit choppy as the narrative bounces around. Additionally, not all of the characters are as fleshed out as you’d like to see, thus making it more difficult to form a bond with them. Salazar is the exception, as he originally comes off as a down-on-his-luck scientist who’s thrust into an incredible position, and grows into a compelling character to follow.
Even when it starts to feel choppy, the plot is still lightning-fast, slowing only long enough when necessary to explain how past events affect the things happening today. Some readers might struggle to keep up with all the narratives and different points of view, but those who read historical fiction on a regular basis will find following the story to be business as usual.
The bad guys are grippingly bad, and the subject matter is nerve-wracking. Creepy might be a better word, but in a way that is much different than a horror story, which this book is not. At the end of the day, it’s a unique and engaging thriller.
Again, Masello’s only misstep is, at times, trying to do too much. He really hit his stride in the story’s final act, though, pushing the level of suspense into the red. Last minute twists and turns will keep readers guessing right up until the thrilling ending.
Author: Robert Masello
Pages: 492 (Paperback)
Release Date: November 8, 2016 (Order Now!)