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L'Affaire Jack l'Eventreur
Christian Coudurier
Publibook, 2004. 56pp., illustrated.
French language.
ISBN: 274830676-7

Casebook Review:

This is a short little French-language book, the text of which only goes for approximately forty-five pages. Coudurier covers many aspects of the case - the police, social conditions, the victims, the suspects, witnesses, etc. - but in the end, narrative feels somewhat fragmented. A season Ripperologist would be able to follow the text, as all of this material would be more or less old-hat to them, but the casual reader with little or no previous knowledge of the case would likely find it difficult to follow. Names and events are often mentioned without sufficient explanation to put them into any sort of context. There are also a handful of errors, mostly spelling-related, but overall Coudurier has a firm grasp of the basic facts.

Courdurier covers the major suspects and provides pros and cons for each of them. He doesn't necessarily put forward his own suspect, though he does suggest that the killer may have been connected in some way with the local mortuaries - he sort of half-heartedly singles out James Hatfield as a possible killer and/or accomplice, though in the end he admits there will never be a "final solution."

A handful of sepia and color photographs are included at the end of the book - two turn-of-the-century shots of London (the Thames, and Petticoat Lane) as well as a handsome reproduction of a colorized 1897 map. A short bibliography follows. There is no index.

Overall this is a difficult book to recommend. It is apparently meant to be a quick introduction and overview of the case for those with little or no previous knowledge, but the text seems to jump around a bit too much for the novice reader to follow. More experienced Ripperologists would find very little new or revealing here, though Coudurier's suggestion of a mortuary attendant does raise some interesting points. Nicely produced but a bit pricey (16 Euros) for a softcover book of this size.