November 26, 2003

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed, by Patricia Cornwell

First, I have to say the only reason I picked this book up is because I enjoy the Kay Scarpeta thriller series by Cornwell. It's a closet pleasure and one I usually donít tell friends who know my normal reading tastes, but there it is. So, when this one came out I browsed it a bit and decided to wait for paperback before reading it

And I found I didnít like it. At all. First, the book is badly written. Really badly written. I had a hard time following her line of reasoning because she jumps from one scenario to another with no logical path or connecting point. She's purporting to examine the remaining evidence and yet she occasionally lapses into a fictional mode when describing the victim's thoughts. My biggest problem is with her analysis of her suspected killer, an artist named Walter Sickert. With no real evidence, she tries to build a profile of the adult based on some childhood operations that, again with no evidence, traumatized him sexually and turned him into a psychopath. And she uses his art as further proof of his mental state which seems to me to be iffy at best. She makes glaring suppositions about his ability to fake the various handwritings in the Ripper letters. She can't actually put him near the scene of any of the murders and since his body was cremated after death, there is no possibility of using real DNA analysis of his DNA vs. what is left on envelope flaps or licked stamps. How she could title the book "Case Closed" is beyond me. She raises a few questions but really has no decisive evidence one way or the other.

I also should have realized that the reason I donít usually read true crime novels or books is because I donít generally care for the genre. Authors include photos of crime scenes that are gruesome at best and Cornwell felt it necessary to put photos taken of the Ripper victims in her book. They were not pretty though thankfully fuzzy and in black and white. I have too vivid an imagination to read books like this. I was expecting something a little deeper and found instead something that is supposed to titillate in a sick, twisted way. No thanks.

Posted by Deb English at November 26, 2003 10:01 AM

Jack said:

hey, im writing a term paper for my forensics class on Jack the ripper and i'd really appreciate any pictures of his victims, particularly anne chapman and mary kelly, thank you. If u can send them to me please email them to me at d0omsdayjesus@aol.com the first "o" in doomsday is a zero. thank you
-Jack