Minerva Press, 2002. Softcover. Illustrated.
You won't find any new information on the Ripper in this book. There are no bombshell discoveries, no radical new interpretations or intricate theories. Everything that's covered in this book has been said before. And yet Hodgson's Jack the Ripper: Through the Mists of Time feels fresh and generally entertains the reader - not so much from its content, but rather from its presentation. Reading Hodgson hardly feels like reading at all. Its more like spending a few hours with a friend over pints at the corner pub, chatting about all things Ripperish.
Hodgson begins with a fictional short story of his own - which didn't really work for me - about a time-travelling experiment to unmask the Ripper. From there he opens on a very basic non-fictional overview of the crimes, and a review of the literature surrounding the case. Hodgson covers non-fiction, fiction, film and theater treatments, with separate chapters focusing on Holmesian adaptations and the controversial Diary. I particularly enjoyed his fiction and film review chapters, where Hodgson gave brief overviews of each piece followed by his own personal ratings. The author retained throughout a most pleasant, convivial tone, free of pedantics and criticism, that I found particularly refreshing. His prose became somewhat more disjointed in later chapters when Hodgson reverted back to the facts of the case, unfortunately, and readers familiar with the Ripper case might find these a bit more tedious. Ultimately, Hodgson suggests that Thomas Cutbush is one of the more likely suspects, but of course he wouldn't be surprised if the Ripper's true name was not to be found among the current long list of candidates.
I should make note that Hodgson includes an original pencil-portrait of Mary Jane Kelly, based on her profile in the infamous photograph of her in Miller's Court, which seemed eerily familiar to me. I'm not sure what exact methods were used to create the image, but it seems to be an excellent conception based on the photograph and various witness descriptions - perhaps the best I've ever seen.