Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Jack The Ripper... Is the Case Really Closed?

I'm not sure why my curiosity pulls my interests to such macabre subjects, but the horrific crimes of Jack the Ripper have never been solved as to who actually was the Ripper.

Until now. Or, at least we're to believe.

I bought this book about a week ago and I've been reading it with avid curiosity and interest.
Patricia Cornwell is the author of the internationally acclaimed Dr. Kay Scarpetta crime series. In this book she has revealed who she feels is Jack the Ripper, using all her knowledge and spending $$ on bringing in other experts in various fields.

I have to admit she has done a wonderful job of eliminating all of the other possible people who were thought of as suspects. Either they weren't in the area at the time of certain murders, or, in the case of The Duke of Clarence, he was--well, to me sounds as though he was slightly mentally challenged.

These murders all happened in the most disgusting places in London, the "East End" where just about anything happened and did. Murder wasn't new to this area of Whitechapel, however, these murders were unheard of. They were horrific and disfiguring. It's as if a lunatic had struck these women of ill repute.

Cornwell contends that Jack the Ripper was an artist named Walter Sickert was behind these murders, and she puts for quite a theory. Other than the artwork, she points to various Ripper letters with more doodlings than you'd think would be, or should be on a Ripper letter. In solving the cases, there is very little to go on. However, I'll say the jury is out on this for me. I have yet to finish the book, and for other reasons I'm not going to say I agree or disagree with her finger pointing at an artist. Much of the evidence could point to him, since he kept a lot of "secret" rooms, and he disappeared for long periods, where no one knew where he was. Not even his wife, or friends.

Let's examine the art

Cornwell points to the art of Sickert to make the suggestion that these paintings are oddly similar to the murdered victims. Just for the record, Sickert was quite an impressionist. Bold colors and lines are part of the impressionist's form. Below is just one of many paintings he did. He was quite good, for impressionism--not exactly my cup of tea, but then again each his own. As an artist I can understand it better than Cornwell, who began writing as a reporter, then worked in a Chief Medical Examiner's office of Virginia and then published "Postmortem" and the rest is history, as they say.

Walter Sickert’s painting Sickert’s Nuit d’ete – or Summer Night – evokes victim Mary Kelly’s death bed scene

The above is a strange angle for the pose. But possibly that was the artist being quirky. But do note that around the neck there is a string of pearls. Is it merely a string of pearls? Or does it hide the slash at the neck? This is The Ripper's "ha-ha", taunting, states Cornwell. Cornwell has explained the Ripper cut the throats of his victims from behind, first, in order to kill them, and to keep from getting blood all over himself. Then he went to town on other parts of the body. Police records have shown that he would disembowel the woman, and take a souvenir--usually her uterus.

She has learned that Sickert also suffered from some sort of deformity of his penis (you'd have to read about this for yourself), which may have given him pretty much grist for the mill, so to speak.

Sickert’s painting Putana a Casa shows a prostitute with bizarre black brush strokes on her face, which are eerily similar to the savage cuts on the postmortem picture of Catherine Eddowes’ face

The above painting, Cornwell claims she finds the black slashes on this woman's face somewhat disturbingly not unlike those slashes to a Ripper victim named Catherine Eddows. I've seen the pictures of both this one and the victim in the book. Above I only see the artist using black as the shadow. Very dramatic, and somewhat dreary. I'm not seeing what she's seeing.

More if you have interest in this:

Here is an article from The Sun about Cornwell's investigation into these murders. WARNING about some of the photos--there's one that particularly gruesome. Plus there's a video--not gruesome, but interesting as well.

There is another interesting article and this is for her newest writing about her investigations into Sickert (hah, what an appropriate name for a sick murderer such as the Ripper). This is called "A New Ripper Mystery: Why Patricia Cornwell won't stop hunting him"

I'm not quite finished with this book, "Portrait of a Killer", which was written in 2002. I must say she does a very thorough job of giving you the facts, and gives a good description of London and the times during 1888. The police, of course, were baffled, and she points out that forensic and crime labs and so forth were not even a dream. They were only just getting to fingerprints at the time. But this guy was clever, he knew how not to get caught.

As for me, I'm only partially convinced by some of the things she's brought up. I hope to get my hands on her second book, which was published this year. There was also one called "Chasing the Ripper" prior to all these.

Product DetailsRipper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert [Kindle in Motion] by [Cornwell, Patricia]

So, if this is of any interest to you, go for it. Like I've said, I just have a morbid curiosity. My murder mysteries will always have something to do with murder. I just won't put the gruesome parts on the page.

One of my books, Trill, did deal with a mother and son psychopath team, and I nearly forget about this, until this morning when it came up in my editing the 7th book in the series, Interlude.


  1. Quite a theory... though we'll never know. At this point, the Ripper's beyond earthly justice.

  2. So true. Cornwell spent $3M of her own money for experts in the field, like testing paper, etc. but to prove Sickert was absolutely, w/o a doubt the Ripper, that's impossible. He was cremated, so there can be no way to get direct DNA from him.


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