Hayley Peterson's Reviews > Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed

Portrait of a Killer by Patricia Cornwell
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May 09, 11

Read in May, 2011

** spoiler alert ** It is absolutely amazing to me that the author of this book could have the audacity to claim to have solved the case of Jack the Ripper and base her crackpot theory on little to no actual evidence. It was a struggle for me to get through this book, and I was continually shocked at how she didn't even bother to fabricate decent evidence, she just excpected the reader to agree with her that a deranged mental state and need for attention will automatically condemn a man as a serial killer, even when there is absolutely no real proof.

One point in the book that absolutely horrified me was in chapter 2, where she describes a conversation with her agent (one of many points in the book where she goes dramatically off topic for no apparent reason other than to distract the reader from her lack of a substantial claim), and she says, "I am suddenly in a position of judgement... It doesn't matter if he's dead, every now and then this small voice asks me, what if you're wrong? I would never orgive myself for saying such a thing about somebody, and then finding out I'm wrong." It amazes me that she can say this and then continue to make these claims based on no more evidence than a few sketches, paintings, and letters that only prove that Walter Sickert, the man she accuses, was mentally unstable and possibly had voilent fantasies, not that he was a murderer.

It amazes me how she can manage to write so much and say so little of value. It would not be wise for anyone to approach this book with the expectation of coming away with any real knowledge of the Ripper case. She should have just published this as fiction, then no one would care she has a theory full of holes and supported by no real evidence. I have not read any of Patricia Cornwell's fiction books, but I found reading this that she should have stuck to fiction. She's not a bad writer, she just shouldn't publish claims like this without evidence and pass them off as truth.
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message 1: by Emma (new) - added it

Emma What did you expect from such a commercial writer? With such a gullible fan club? It's like asking Aghatha Cristie to do a book on the origins of World War I .. though come to think she might have made a better job of it. You are right it was not good it ended up in the bin on my side with no stars at all


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