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on 18 August 2017
Colourful and clear introduction to the Whitechapel murders. It covers the context (East End life, police, politics) before dealing with the five classic murders attributed to Jack the Ripper - and some of the other killings linked to him. The book sells itself on the computer generated images of the crime scenes (no ghoulish bodies, just the buildings), which are atmospheric and interesting but should not distract from the quality of the main information, which is authoritative and carefully presented. Thankfully free of wacky theories about motive or suspects (these are deal with on a single page near the end) this book is as one of the best summaries of the case in years.
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on 5 August 2015
“Here, life was lived – if living isn’t a misonmer for what was in truth no more than survival…” Begg and Bennett, Jack the Ripper CSI: Whitechapel

It seems wrong to describe a book on such a grim subject as beautiful, especially when there is some of the most horrifyingly brutal crime scene photographs contained within these pages. But, if truth be told, the 30 new CGI artworks of the East End of London, in 1888, are breathtakingly detailed and beautifully rendered. This is what truly sets apart Jack the Ripper CSI: Whitechapel from other books that simply detail the murders of several prostitutes that birthed a fear-provoking phenomenon.

The book is written by Paul Begg and John Bennett, both respected authorities on the Whitechapel murders with several articles to their name. Begg authored a recent documentary screened in the UK on Channel-5, which was one of the better looks (compared to many) at the ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders. Bennett is known for his tours, although I cannot comment on those as I haven’t attended one done by him.

CSI: Whitechapel attempts to re-create an accurate presentation of the East End London as it was during the infamous ‘Whitechapel Murders’. This is basically from the murder of Emma Smith to Mary Kelly, as well as later scares. In a sense, the book creates an eerie guided tour through the streets the miscreant murderer, dubbed Jack the Ripper, would have stalked. Along with the CGI illustrations, there are detailed bespoke maps, views of streets then and now, as well as cultural information and illustrations of a place, and time, where people actually wouldn’t venture, in tours, whereas they would the hot, dangerous, slums of British Imperial India.

The first chapter begins with a look at the East End distinctly as an individual place, and then by and large to London. The book has its main text, within a chapter, and then (often very detailed) side notes that discuss road layouts, the structural formation and rules of the lodging houses, while also explaining the emergence of a district through details on the matchstick girls’ strikes, et cetera.

From here the authors take a forensically solid, and historically factual, looks at the murders of Emma Smith; Martha Tabram; then the "canonical five" Mary Ann (Polly) Nicholas; Annie Chapam; Elizabeth Stride; Catherine Eddows; Mary Jane Kelly; to the latter scares, such as Alice McKenzie.

In addition, there are chapters at the reaction the murders caused, and the issues encountered by the police investigation, and then the overall search for Jack suspects. This is a succinct chapter, and includes most of the modern attempts to solve the mystery and suspects – serious and fanciful, including the ‘diary of’ James Maybrick, to Patricia Cornwell’s bizarre, self-funded ($6 million), investigation into the painter, Walter Sickert.

The text is factual and non-sensationalist. It’s not quite dissertation level, but there is a freshing and noted impartiality that many books on this subject lack. Anyone can read this, whatever your general level of expertise. As such, you get the facts, and observational analysis, which can sometimes require several books and copious note taking just to find out stringent facts about the yard Annie Chapman was found in, so all kudos to Begg and Bennett in giving this information clearly.

It is the illustrations that raise this book over others in a saturated genre. Begg and Bennett must have worked diligently with the artist, Jaakko Luukanen, to create such realistic and evocative scenes. The level of detail is quite remarkable, from cracks and moss in bricks, to the weather damaged posters littered on walls. Each murder is accompanied by a street map, which shows the site of the murder, and then places of interest (witness accounts, lodges of other victims) and so on. It’s an engrossing visual experience and one that will bring clarity, I think, to those interested.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t just recommend this book to people interested in the case; this book would interest people interested in police and social history, the East End, to general crime. On a side note, this book does contain the crime scene and morturay photographs (so it's not suitable to the very young).
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on 26 July 2014
Fantastic for beginners. Great visual reference for anyone I wish they'd been a book like this when I was just getting into the case over twenty years ago !! They's so much work done on the theories. So many reference materials on the facts. But nothing I have found with maps clearly showing the positions of key players and locations in the case as well as information like times and names etc Shown so graphically and clear Beautifully rendered cgi of locations helps take the reader see what some of the places would have looked like. I was really pleased with this book and it cleared up a lot for me about the geography . I really wish I'd read this book before visiting whitechapel for the first time last Week. I'd have substituted this book for my guide on the walk in a heartbeat !!! It' tells you enough about the victims and suspects to whet your appetite but this isn't a bad thing. It doesn't overload the readers mind with everything at once. They's lots of books to explore specifics further . Well worth the price.
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on 29 January 2013
This book is a must have. The CGI artwork is just... well.. breathtaking! In addition the book also contains many photographs. The text is well written and factual backed up with anecdotes from official documentaion, newspaper reports and comments from those involved in the investigations. Also included is trivia about life in and around Whitechapel at the time of the killings along with how the area has physically changed over time. All of this combined with the authors neutrality over the Ripper himself - they do not trumpet any candidate - concentrating instead on the victims and their lives and deaths make this a must have book for anyone interested in Victorian London as well as Jack.
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on 22 January 2016
Having recently taken an interest in the subjectrecently, I was staggered at the amount of reading material available. I bought the volume solely on the splendid reviews given by other Amazon customers. This book is a very good place to start as it is written by, apparently, one of the acknowledged authorities on the life and times of 'Leather Apron'. VBW Glenn x
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on 9 January 2018
Great read , engrossing stuff . Everything you need to know .
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on 18 May 2013
Absolutely loved this book. It's chock full of new pics, computer generated pics of the streets of Whitechapel and an interesting and informative narrative throughout. Just brilliant.
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on 9 May 2016
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on 21 May 2013
Loved the set out and the use of modern photos to give you a good idea of what the areas must have been like at such times.
Enjoyed it and wasn't disappointed.
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on 9 January 2013
If Jack the Ripper fascinates you, this book is an absolute must. Witj dark and sordid scene recreations, the Whitechapel of 1888 springs to life from the pages giving us a perspective on the case never seen before.
The book is large with lush graphics that take us back to the ''Autumn of Terror''.
An absolute must have title.
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