Monday, October 03, 2011

Books: Portrait of a Killer

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed
By Patricia Cornwell
Copyright 2002
522 VERY LONG pages

For my Detectives in Film and Literature class we are reading detective books, of course.

This is one of those books.

I hated it.

Patricia Cornwell is a good writer, don't get me wrong. But I am not a fan of the content of her novels. I don't like blood and gore. I like my entrails inside the body, and I'm not keen on reading about the mutilation of women's genital areas.

And that's just the first few pages of this particular book.

I will have nightmares for weeks.

Anyway, Patricia Cornwell "applied the rigorous discipline of twenty-first-century police investigation" to all the material she could find about Jack the Ripper. She offers up a zillion reasons why she thinks a man named Walter Sickert was the psychopathic nut who went around cutting women's throats and mutilating their bodies in the last decades of the 19th century in London, England.

I know there are people who enjoy this type of thing, and if you are one of them, then I highly recommend this book to you.

If instead, you prefer a lot less blood and gore, then this is not the book for you.

For those who don't know, Jack the Ripper is the name given to the unidentified person who killed these unfortunate women way back when. The criminal was never caught.

Many other books offer up theories as to the identity of Jack the Ripper. Those theories include medical students, mentally ill persons, and a member of the royal family.

Walter Sickert was a London artist of some note at the turn of the century.

Did Cornwell prove her case? I don't know. She had a lot of circumstantial evidence, some DNA stuff, and much speculation. Does the fact that someone painted a picture of a murdered person make him a murderer?

She did prove to me that Sickert was most likely mentally ill and that he could have been Jack the Ripper.

Somebody give me a handi-wipe for my poor brain. It will never be the same.


  1. Egad.... I'll stay FAR far away from this one! I'm not one for the gory stuff either.

  2. Doesn't sound like a book I would enjoy.

  3. I'm guilty of liking the Scarpetta series (except for the past few years -- she has ran that character into the ground) Anyway, I made it through the Ripper book by reading the first and last paragraph sentences. Anyway, the conclusions seemed too circumstantial or that the way she presented them made them seem naive. I can't believe she paid to take the time to fly over there and do the study1

  4. someone should invent a brain scrub for real. i'm guessing some brains just don't get the same trauma from violence-consumption. some wiring issue. I wouldn't want to hold a 10-foot pole from that.


I enjoy your comments and always appreciate the opportunity to visit the blogs of my readers. I hope you have a great day!