Lee's Reviews > Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed

Portrait of a Killer by Patricia Cornwell
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Apr 24, 2010

really liked it
Recommended for: People interested in Jack the Ripper
read count: 2

** spoiler alert ** Patricia Cornwell, the author of the popular Kay Scarpetta mysteries, has done some historical research and come up with a startling conclusion: that Jack the Ripper was really a famous English painter named Walter Robert Sickert.

A lot of readers and reviewers have taken Ms. Cornwell to task because she didn't write the Ripper book they wanted to read, because she can't prove by today's standards that Sickert was guilty, and because of her lack of objectivity, the last of which I agree with. Additionally, some people may have a vested interest in keeping the Ripper's identity a mystery or in protecting Sickert's image.

What Ms. Cornwell has done with her book is paint an empathetic portrait of the people involved in the Ripper case - including the victims - and try to discover possible links between "saucy Jack" and the elusive, secretive Walter Robert Sickert. There's not a lot of DNA evidence, but Cornwell has examined what does exist. Furthermore, by trying to get inside Sickert's life, she has come up with a ton of circumstantial, but horribly suspicious, evidence that points toward Sickert as either Jack the Ripper himself, or a sick wannabe.

I am by no means a Ripper expert, but this theory seems by far to be the most believable one I've read so far. If you are interested in Jack the Ripper, this book is worth reading just for the details of the lives of the victims and her descriptions of 19th century Whitechapel.
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