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The Complete Jack the Ripper

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,223 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
Few stories have fastened their claws so firmly into the public imagination as the notorious and gruesome Whitechapel Murders of 1888. They were responsible for one of the most evocative legends in English folk history - Jack the Ripper. Best of all - for the myth-makers, that is - he was never caught, and there has never been a convincing identification of this man or, as ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (first published January 1st 1975)
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Hannah
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

I originally rated this 4 stars last night after finishing it, but after a night's sleep, I lowered it to 3.5 stars. Not a big difference, but upon reflection, I think that one of the reasons I enjoyed Rumbelow's book was also, weirdly enough, why I lowered my rating. Here's why: Rumbelow isn't a writer by profession. He was actually a City of London policeman for several years before becoming a writer. His approach to Jack was from a different perspective, and I e
...more
F.R.
Feb 09, 2011 F.R. rated it really liked it
The last time I read this unsensational guide to Jack the Ripper I was a, no doubt quite morbid, teenager. Reading it as a more well rounded adult (one hopes anyway), I have to say that it holds up really well. Originally published in 1975, former police officer Rumbelow sifts his way through the evidence in a way that is dispassionate and avoids outlandish theories (which makes it somewhat odd that the introduction to my edition is by Colin Wilson, a man always fond of outlandish theories. But ...more
Siobhan
We all have those family members who like to lumber you with things once they find out about your interest.

Well this book came from my aunt when she found out about my interest in forensic psychology. Supposedly I need to become an expert in the criminal world – mainly I need to be able to recite the heinous acts of countless individuals across history.

Okay, maybe she did not put it like that but it sort of felt that way when she handed me numerous books on the topic.

Still, despite the fact that
...more
Heather
Feb 18, 2014 Heather rated it really liked it
This book was recommended to me by an odd elderly man (who seemed to know a little too much about serial killers) that I met in the True Crime section at a used book warehouse. I did not know anything at all about Jack the Ripper. I took the book home and asked my husband what he knew about the serial killer. He told me he only knew three things "for sure". One was that he lured his victims to him using grapes (which were considered rare), two that he murdered prostitutes, and three that the pol ...more
Alex
Nov 14, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing
Great book!! Made me want to keep reading even when I had no time. Lots of information but told in an entertaining way!
Carl
Oct 26, 2015 Carl rated it it was amazing
This is the definitive work on Jack the Ripper and is an excellent read. Almost every other book on Jack is trying to prove the author's point of view and so they ignore contrary evidence and slant other evidence to support their conclusions (I'm looking at you, Patricia Cornwell). Their primary interest is in selling their theory and their books. Rumbelow instead presents all the evidence impartially and discusses each suspect impartially and points out flaws in the case against each one and fa ...more
Nicole
Jun 01, 2014 Nicole rated it really liked it
Well I quite have read a few about this subject,but I still can read further on. There is so much to read, so much fascination surroundings of one of the greatest unsolved murder ever.
Rumbelow sets the crimes firmly in their historical settings,deduce and examines the evidence from the Ripper letters over the victims to the suspects.
This book took me a while, I needed some time to get used to his style of writting and his way of rolling up the story. He starts which a journey to the outcast Lond
...more
Rachel Parham
Pinpointing exactly why I couldn't finish this book is difficult because I have read Jack the Ripper histories twice the length of this one, and been as absorbed as if I was reading an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting, hair-yanking thriller.

Somehow, Donald Rumbelow here managed to remove that sense of suspense and horror I have encountered in other Jack the Ripper works. It felt like I was reading a technical manual, actually. I kept trying to soldier through it since I am fascinate
...more
Meaghan
This book is not as good as Philip Sugden's wonderful The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. It was written in the 1970s and is dated as a result; much new information has come to light since then. It also has some inaccuracies, for example repeating the old fable of Mary Kelly's pregnancy. But it was still a worthwhile read for its detail. I particularly enjoyed the section on the various improbable suspects people suggested, something which was missing from Sugden's book. This is a worthy ad ...more
Donna
Sep 22, 2013 Donna rated it it was amazing
I first read this book when I was 12 years old. Checked it out of the Scenic Regional Library every summer after that until I went to college. Visited London with my parents in the 1990's and took the Jack the Ripper pub crawl. Guess who was the guide????? Yes, Donald Rumbelow! I was thrilled. Great memory.
Nina
Jan 23, 2011 Nina rated it really liked it
Really informative. At times, perhaps, a bit too informative. It gave me nightmares. I highly recommend it for anyone with an interest in the subject. It does not provide the answer, but asks a lot of questions, and shows the flaws in many of the myths.
Deanne
Jul 18, 2015 Deanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Clear and concise, a book which deals with what can be confirmed, but also shows how some can be discounted.
Garrett Cash
While I'm not typically the sort of person that likes true crime books (the final chapter of this book was so gruesome I almost quit out on it), the case of Jack the Ripper fascinates me in a way that is different from many other serial killer sort of cases in history. Part of it is that we know so little of who he was, part of it is the time period that it evokes in London, part of it is the mythos built around it. This book was a fascinating trip the facts that we know of the murders and the m ...more
James Castle
Jan 15, 2017 James Castle rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Overall, a good overview of this topic. Rumbelow begins with a description of the grotesque poverty of Whitechapel, progresses to a minute discussion of each of the canonical murders, and ends with a survey of likely suspects.

Pros:

- intimate knowledge of English police history
- the author displays an amusing dry wit
- the first chapter is especially interesting and powerful

Cons:
- the author assumes the audience is English, and so doesn't explain anything an Englishman might be expected to know
Captmashpea
Oct 16, 2016 Captmashpea rated it liked it
I'm finished, I'm finished - that took me forever! It was an interesting book but it was not an easy or fast read. It was a casebook and as such it was long winded and filled with dry facts. I feel very well informed but I'm so happy to be finished.
(hard copy)
Rob McMonigal
Aug 27, 2007 Rob McMonigal rated it really liked it
I'm not really big into true crime the way that my mother is. She'll devour the stuff, whether the written word, a news report, or one of the many true crime shows on cable. I kinda pick at it here and there--I'll watch the shows but not so much with the books. But when this tome, said to be one of the most comprehensive on Jack the Ripper, came to my notice, I decided to give it a whirl. The results were quite impressive.

Jack the Ripper is one of those cases that, despite the fact that there ha
...more
Philomena McGirr
Jun 28, 2015 Philomena McGirr rated it it was ok
This book was a huge let down for me. Now, to be fair, I haven't yet finished it (currently in the 'Suspects' chapter which is what really did it for me) but at the point I'm at now I don't see my opinion changing.

I am baffled by the suggestion that this book offers a "complete" telling of the Jack the Ripper story. Compare it to Philip Sudgen's offering, and you'll immediately see that no, this is not complete at all. Nor is it true that "It is difficult to believe that any future Ripperologist
...more
Aaronlisa
Jan 08, 2015 Aaronlisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
I had originally read the first edition as a teenager. It was one of the only true crime books of my mother's that I reread. For a while the whole idea of Jack the Ripper fascinated me. I have come to realize that what struck my interest was partly how the case was stuck with us despite the lack of evidence and knowledge. The main interest in it was that it gave me my first look at the dark and seedy side if Victorian England. It made me aware that the "good old days" are merely a myth. And with ...more
Flew Flewelling
Apr 28, 2012 Flew Flewelling rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I must begin by saying that I wasn't sure I really wanted to read this book. I'm not into serial killings or such, but had a friend that just wouldn't take no for an answer. The beginning was a little tough as I knew little to nothing about Jack the Ripper or the streets of London where his killings took place.

What I was impressed with, was the journey that the author takes you on. He begins by setting the stage and describing what London, and more specifically, Whitechapel was like just before
...more
Pamela Simone
Sep 24, 2016 Pamela Simone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitive Study

Donald Rumbelow is the true expert on Jack the Ripper. He approaches this case with an unbiased view of the murders and suspects. His deductions are based on whether the evidence fits the suspect not making the evidence fit his pet suspect. He also does an excellent job of debunking many of the more far fetched theories and suspects.
I have the hardback of his first edition of this book and formed a lot of my ideas about the case from that book. When I read other articles or books
...more
Chiara Deathsy
Mar 24, 2013 Chiara Deathsy rated it liked it
As stated by others, Don Rumbelow is surely one of the Top Ripperologists, but no great writer. I got the latest and updated version of this book and could learn about some "new facts", as Rumbelow published some documents in full length for the very first time.

I also liked that he tried to give valuable arguments for Stride not being a Ripper victim. That also showed a development in his view of the case.

That said, I must admit that I was slightly disappointed by the short section dedicated to
...more
Samantha Greenya
Simply put, this book was amazing. I could not put it down. Crime, mystery, and horror are not generally my genres of choice, but Rumbelow could make almost anyone interested in the case of Jack the Ripper. His research is obsessive in the best way down to the most minuscule detail. He gives extensive relative back story on the area, the victims, the suspects, and the follower-murderers. He does not favor any one of the suspects, but allows the reader to decide for themselves might have done it. ...more
D.M.
Aug 27, 2008 D.M. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: true crime enthusiasts and those interested in Victorian life.
The missus picked up this revised edition on her trip to London last year, when she went on the 'Ripper Walk' hosted by the authour himself! I already owned a copy of the original hardcover, and she had to point out to me that not only was this one updated and revised, but that it was signed by Rumbelow to me. How much do I love her?
This is, simply, the best, most authoritative and readable book I've come across about Jack the Ripper. Rumbelow is THE authourity on the subject, and his contributi
...more
Karli
Jan 13, 2015 Karli rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brit-lit
If comprehensive is what you want, then you get Rumbelow. No stone un-turned, no detail slopped in and no ludicrous theory un-scoffed. The chapter on Suspects (which is a third of the book, understandably) may have a bit more detail than I wanted however this is the Encyclopedia Ripperania. It's all here, every little nugget. So finding the amount of information as potentially overwhelming really isn't the point. The word "Complete" in the title is quite accurate here.

Reading about the Düsseldor
...more
Jim Dooley
May 11, 2013 Jim Dooley rated it really liked it
Probably the greatest archivist of Jack the Ripper materials wrote the definitive book on what actually occurred during those horrifying months. He also presents the most harrowing photographs taken by police photographers, especially at the site of the final murder.

You won't find identity answers here. The author does not speculate on the identity of the Ripper, although he does provide details of the most infamous suspects.

In addition to case details, I also learned more about "class" issues i
...more
Katherine Addison
Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook) is the seminal work in the field (by which I mean efforts to understand the murders, the victims, the detectives, the suspects, the newspapers, the public, the politicians, etc., in their historical context, rather than, Hi! I have a crazy theory about the Ripper's real identity!), and it is very good, very readable and thoughtful--and unfortunately, at this point, very outdated. New material has come to light, theories and "facts" have been disproved: the ...more
Daniel Penfold
Jan 17, 2013 Daniel Penfold rated it it was amazing
By far and away the best book currently in print regarding the Ripper murders. If you pick this up expecting the solution to the murders then put the book back down again it doesn't provide it. What it does do and skilfully at that is to take the reader through all of the evidence, from a general background of the Eastend, to the nights of the murders and the blunders made by the various police forces. Finally it turns to each of the suspects and examines them in the likelihood of what is known ...more
Katie
Apr 29, 2010 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: macabre, mystery
The first of the RIpper books that I ever read, and it made me a lifelong -well, person of interest. I'm not a fan of reading serial killer books, but historical crimes, especially unsolved ones, interest me greatly and this book drew me in hook line and sinker.
Parts of the writing are a bit stiff and unemotional; however I'm not sure how that could change being that it is recounting the facts and only the facts as far as the author can tell. It is a great read, with excellent theories and pres
...more
Katrina
I'm not sure what to think of this book. While he does provide an extensive overview of the killings and possible suspects, he doesn't give a clear weight one way or another. Also there are extensive parts that are just absolutely not necessary and are just filler and it's rather annoying. Also, when he talks about people, the author's writing style makes it very hard to figure out who is who. While it may be more controversial, I prefer Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed.
Tiffany
Aug 31, 2009 Tiffany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: detectives, criminologists, historians, Anglophiles, mystery buffs
Wow, he covers everything in this book! There are photos, sketches, theories, letters, everything to make you really want to know--Who was Jack the Ripper? I read this book shortly before moving to London, and then I felt quite knowledgable whilst passing the Jack The Ripper evening tours through Whitechapel. To read it and then be IN the places where it all happened hits close to home. You hear so much about the notion of Jack the Ripper, but there are the pictures in the book and the eerie bit ...more
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