Most helpful critical review
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining, but ...
on 22 September 2011
After developing a morbid fascination with the infamous Victorian serial killer, I searched Amazon for a detailed and authoritative account of Jack the Ripper's dispicable crimes during that Autumn of 1888. I came upon this book, noticed the positive reviews and unadorned title and decided to give it a go.
Overall, I was content with the purchase. Paley has, it seems, pinned the crime on a single man (who I won't name, although he is revealed almost straight away) rather than offering up a checklist of likely suspects, and his book lays out the facts as he sees them, convinced that only one man fits the bill of a killer.
And the argument he gives us is, it must be said, convincing. In fact, after finishing the book I'm baffled as to how the man in question was overlooked by the police, overly keen as they were to collar the Ripper. Also, the descriptions Paley gives us of the dirt-filled, disease-ridden East End of London are vividly effected.
So, why just three stars? Two reasons, really. The first is the endless, unforgiveable stream of mistakes and misprints. These aren't, of course, attributable to Paley's lack of skill with words, but more just what seems to be a lack of effective proofreading. I read the kindle edition, and on occasions there were five or six faults on a single page, from words bunched together to form one beffudling whole to misspelt words to symbols added in sentences for no apparent reason other than sloppy editing.
The second reason is the tunnel-visioned approach to the subject matter. I, mistakenly, took this book to be an all-encompassing tome on Jack the Ripper, every aspect of the case explored. In many ways it was, but its insistance that only one man could be the killer detracts from other aspects of the case, so much so that once I'd finished I felt a trifle short-changed. For instance, a further look into other possible suspects would have been welcomed. If you're looking for a complete history of the killer, you may need to try elswhere.
Overall, Paley has created a readable, even page-turning, account of Jack the Ripper and his victims, replete with colourful depictions of the grime-strewn existence that was life in the Victorian East End. At the heart of the book is Paley's unshakeable belief in the true identity of the killer, a belief you, as I, may well come round to sharing with him.