Top critical review
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Disappointing and unconvincing
on 14 July 2014
I was really disappointed by this book. When I first chose it, I found myself intrigued by the theory; I’ve read other theories where Jack the Ripper has been a woman, but this was a new one. To be honest, I never expected it to fully convince me, but I had hoped that it would provide an interesting argument.
I read it quite fast. That was a good point of the book, it was reasonably well written and was quite easy to read. However, its contents left a lot to be desired. One point was the author’s insistence that this was the only correct theory. There was no room for doubt in his writing, which became incredibly irritating, particularly when it felt like his argument was spreading rather thin. If he had said that this is “possibly” what happened, I may have liked the book more.
There were some good points made in this book. The main one being the testimony of Caroline Maxwell, which is a large basis for the author’s argument, and the burned clothes found in Mary Kelly’s home. This was a detail that I found interesting.
However, other suggestions made just didn’t work; his suggestion that scratch marks found on Annie Chapman’s body could only have been caused by a wealthy Victorian housewife didn’t sit right with me, and I almost laughed out loud at the suggestion the inverted V marks on Catherine Eddowes’ face were a reference to a specific line from the Bible which happens to begin with a letter V (bizarrely, the author didn’t feel this was the most far-fetched of his theories concerning the inverted V’s on Catherine’s face).
The main issue is that there isn’t any real evidence that backs up his theory. Despite his claim at one point that he did not twist any of the events to match his theory, that is overwhelmingly what seems to have happened. Another issue which I found rather grating was this notion of needing a “proper motive” to commit these murders. The proper motive he comes up with is jealousy, and at times seems rather obsessed with the idea of Lizzie Hughes being jealous of Mary Kelly’s beauty because she was “plain”. I’m not sure what I’d like a “proper motive” to be, but personally I found the jealousy over her husband and Mary Kelly’s physical attractiveness a weak motive.
Overall, I’d say this is worth reading if you want to learn some alternative theories for the Jack the Ripper case. However, the argument it made was not at all convincing, and by the end of it I was feeling irritated by the notion that this theory is the only possible answer for what happened. If the theory had been dealt with better, maybe with an acknowledgement that it might not be true, I may have preferred the book better, but as it is I’m a bit disappointed by it.