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The Bell Tower: The Case of Jack the Ripper Finally Solved ... in San Francisco [Hardcover]

Robert Graysmith
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 May 1999
London, 1896: The Jack the Ripper murders have stopped as mysteriously as they started. Five years later, in San Francisco, brutally murdered bodies begin to appear. In a gripping tale based on historical fact, the author who solved the Zodiac murders reveals the true identity of Jack the Ripper. National TV tour.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 552 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing Inc; 1st Edition edition (31 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895263246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895263247
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,184,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Publisher

From BookList
In an age that has produced Jonestown, Jeffrey Dahmer, and high-school shoot-ups, we hardly need Jack the Ripper to stimulate our baser curiosities... Graysmith, a respected journalist with a particular interest in sensational crime stories, has proposed a link between the East End murders and some San Francisco murders five years later. Of course, he has no more "solved" the Ripper mystery than any of the hundred other would-be sleuths making similar claims. But Graysmith is a gifted writer whose rat-a-tat, driving style is ideal for a true-crime narrative. If his claims are exaggerated, he has nevertheless provided an exciting, gripping thriller that will be appreciated by Ripper buffs and those who enjoy a fine nail-biter.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There Was No Bell In The Tower! 7 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Graysmith's book provides the basic story in more generous detail than anyone else this century, and he should be credited for that, however, as one who is also familiar with the case I was disappointed to see him swallowing the defense's position that Theodore was innocent. Then that business about Jack the Ripper being responsible: Ooo, I cringe. Even Graysmith's title "The Bell Tower" signals trouble, for anyone who's ever seen the newspaper drawings on the story knows there was no bell up there. Crime writer Colin Wilson made the same error. In 1895 the steeple was ominously referred to by reporters as "the place where no bell ever tolled." That's the reason no one bothered to go up there for the ten days that it took to find Blanch Lamont's body. And one last thing, for now, Blanch Lamont's tombstone does not use the "Blanche" spelling Graysmith uses for her name. But don't get me wrong, you should still buy the book. The Durrant case was the most interesting murder story San Francisco experienced at the turn of the century. In fact, it virtually brought this city to a halt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars interesting, but has a few problems 25 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
As always, Graysmith's research is thorough, and while I don't completely believe his "solution" to the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was, he does present a good case for his theory.
It seems, though, from reading this book, that Graysmith originally intended to write a couple of different books and merged them together into this book. A narrative about a dual murder in San Francisco's Mission district is awkwardly interrupted by a retelling of the Ripper murders and an over-long tale of two warring newspapers in the early years of The City. Had he focussed on just one of these stories, instead of trying to merge them into one book, the flow would have been greatly improved and each resulting separate book would have been much stronger.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Utterly unconvincing 23 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Graysmith didn't even convince me that there WERE two murders at the church or that the church even existed! If a book purports to be "true crime," please don't make guesses at what the thoughts of the principals might be! Refer to your sources! Use footnotes! Were there any photographs of San Francisco from at or near the time of the murders? If I can see photos of Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper's victims elsewhere, why do we just get illustrations (most without source citations) in this book? Evidence of this kind would make the book much more credible and convincing. I didn't pick the book up to read about the newspaper wars, either! The story of the Bell Tower would have been interesting as a novel if the secondary plot lines were abandoned. But if it's going to be written in narrative style, PLEASE tout it as fiction it is!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply facinating book..... 22 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book there are no words to descibe it, In the 9th grade I did a 30 page report on Jack the Ripper. Since then I have continued my study of the killer. I drive my self crazy thinking ofwhat it wouldbe like to go there and follow the paths that the killer took, just so that i canunderstand him more. I am 21 years old and i have been out of high school for 2 years. This bookwas very intriguing. I strogly incourage everyone to read it.....
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.1 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Bell Tower: The Case of Jack the Ripper Finally Solved 28 July 2000
By Evan A. Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is without a doubt the most poorly written and researched book on Jack the Ripper that I have ever read, and I have over sixty volumes on the subject in my personal library. Hard facts are ignored in order to bolster the author's preconceived theory.A series of "Ripper" letters long considered fakes are presented as factual and loose ends are tied to other loose ends, in a willy-nilly fashion, whether they belong together or not. Perhaps the most tawdry scholarship (in a book filled with tawdry scholarship) is the series of totally false "deathbed confessions" which the author would foist upon his readers. This book adds absolutely nothing of value and little of truth to the on-going "Ripper" scholarship. I'm glad I bought it used! It's certainly not worth the full price. All of this is too bad; I did so want it to be a useful addition to my library
Darrell Baker Irvine, California
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars All Style and No Substance 18 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've read short accounts of the Emmanuel Baptist Church murders over the years, so I was pleased to see that someone had finally done a full-length book on the crimes. Unfortunately, Robert Graysmith has turned out a sloppy, badly-researched book with a completely unconvincing theory. He piles on lots of atmospheric descriptions of old San Francisco to hide the fact that he has nothing to back up his claim that Theo Durrant was innocent of the murders of Blanche Lamont and Minnie Williams. There isn't a shred of evidence to connect anyone other than Durrant with the crimes. His claim that the church's pastor was the real killer doesn't hold water and the idea that the pastor was really Jack the Ripper is nothing short of ludicrous. Making wild claims is nothing new for Graysmith; the book jacket calls him "the investigator who identified the Zodiac killer". In fact, the Zodiac has never been caught or identified. Graysmith just targeted one suspect, with no more proof than he offers here. A great book could be written about Theo Durrant, unfortunately, this wasn't it. For a much better (if shorter) account of Durrant and his victims, see Dorothy Dunbar's 1964 book, "Blood In The Parlor".
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the Jack the Ripper Subtitle 18 Feb 2004
By Rachel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am a Jack the Ripper buff, and that is why I got this from the library, but I found it more interesting if I didn't think about the Jack the Ripper subplot. It is written well, and an interesting case. If you're only interested in Jack the Ripper, go elsewhere. But if you're interested in William Hearst, San Francisco in the early 20th century and well-written "true"-crime, this is a great example.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There Was No Bell In The Tower! 7 Aug 1999
By Gift Card - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Graysmith's book provides the basic story in more generous detail than anyone else this century, and he should be credited for that, however, as one who is also familiar with the case I was disappointed to see him swallowing the defense's position that Theodore was innocent. Then that business about Jack the Ripper being responsible: Ooo, I cringe. Even Graysmith's title "The Bell Tower" signals trouble, for anyone who's ever seen the newspaper drawings on the story knows there was no bell up there. Crime writer Colin Wilson made the same error. In 1895 the steeple was ominously referred to by reporters as "the place where no bell ever tolled." That's the reason no one bothered to go up there for the ten days that it took to find Blanch Lamont's body. And one last thing, for now, Blanch Lamont's tombstone does not use the "Blanche" spelling Graysmith uses for her name. But don't get me wrong, you should still buy the book. The Durrant case was the most interesting murder story San Francisco experienced at the turn of the century. In fact, it virtually brought this city to a halt.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Totally Confusing 26 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
By the time I finished this book I couldn't figure out whether Graysmith believed Reverend Gibson or William Randolf Hearst was Jack the Ripper. He simultaneously showed the newspaper accounts of the day to be, at best, heavily predjudiced accounts of the crimes, and then depended on them for his research. His reconstructed diary of Theo Durrant was the last straw--it was written by a character he had invented! I'm going to avoid Graysmith from now on.
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