TW: past burglary, rape, and murder
TW: past burglary, rape, and murder
TW: serial murders and mentions of strangulation, dismemberment, and necrophilia (although not in graphic detail)
I’m going to start with this caveat first. If you have no prior knowledge on the Ripper murders, do not start here.
This book is more of a historical literary analysis of books that have been written about Jack the Ripper and who he is. Literally, there is about pages of information about the murders. This doesn’t include the suspects. Odell is an established Ripperologist and this is written for those with a serious interest in the crimes. (But, if this whets your appetite, I’d be happy to direct you to some books I personally liked and gave me a grounding!)
Luckily, I have a huge interest and knowledge base about dear old Jack.
I’ve read quite a few books, read shows, watched movies, did some tours, etc. Basically, I’ve been interested in Jack since I was nine. Yeah. I was a weird kid. But, that’s for another time.
As I said, this book is more of a historical literary analysis, following the trends through the years and Ripperologists. Odell had more to say about people from the 1960s and on, but this book cuts off in the early 2000s so new evidence that has come to light wasn’t included.
I loved how thorough Odell was. He covered serious theories that I’ve heard many times, ones that are serious but I haven’t heard of too much because books I’ve read dismissed them, and the crack pot theories that I love. Such as, the Duke of Clarence (Queen Victoria’s grandson) was the cause of it — and the basis of From Hell, both graphic novel and movie — and that it wasn’t Jack the Ripper but Jill the Ripper.
Odell went through it all, combing the evidence that was available to him and all the books that made a mark on history. For good and for bad, too. He treats it all evenly, which I really like. While Odell is dismissive of the more ridiculous theories, he still examines all the evidence and then shows how it doesn’t quite work.
The only downside is that this doesn’t account for some recent advancements. Mainly, I’m referring to the book Naming Jack the Ripper. I read this back in 2016 and was impressed by it because it brought in DNA evidence that linked one of the prime suspects to the history. I would have loved to see Odell’s thoughts on it since it sounds like Cornwell’s book, Portrait of a Killer, which he examines in lots of detail. Aka, he tears it down.
While this book is for a very specialized group of people, it was very interesting. You just have to know your stuff already and have read some of the literature. Unless you want to do a bunch of Googling while reading.
Thanks to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my rating.
This kind of book isn’t my usual type of thing. I don’t usually like reading about rape, and this book is all about a serial rapist and how they caught him. It’s about rape culture inside the police and in the world in general. It’s about the aftermath of rape in the lives of the survivors. It’s about the way the police go about finding rapists and solving (or abandoning) the crimes.
Really, it’s not my type of book yet it totally was.
“All I did was survive, and I was criminalized for it.”
The story starts with the story of a woman who had been raped. The police didn’t think her story added up, so they completely dropped the case and, in the end, charged her for wasting police time. And then, across the country, there were other women being assaulted in the same way and the hunt for their rapist continued.
It’s told in chapters that go back and forth in time, from the initial report to the other survivors to the rapist’s life to the various investigators. I thought it was impressive how all of those lines were balanced. Despite how similar they were, I never lost track of the story being presented to me and all of the people involved in it.
It also focused on showing the failings of the police with investigating rapes. First, it gave the statistics as things stand and just showed how rape survivors are prosecuted for false reporting, then exonerated for it. Next, it gave the historical perspective of how hard it is for the survivors when it comes to trial because of the things the defense says and uses.
While this isn’t an easy book to read, it’s a very satisfying one. It was masterfully told, interesting the whole time, and made you sick that something like this happened yet hopeful that it won’t again. All in all, a very strong true crime book.