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Jack the Ripper: Murder Mystery And Intrigue in London's East End
Susan McNicoll
ISBN: 1552659003
Altitude Publishing Canada
Softcover, 128pp.

Casebook Review:

Don't judge this book by its cover.

From the outside, Jack the Ripper: Murder, Mystery and Intrigue in London's East End looks like the kind of book you'd pick up in the "young adult" section of a bookstore, but don't let that turn you off. Although short (about 120 pages) and printed in a large typeface, this may well be the best short overview of the Ripper crimes yet published. McNicoll covers the basic details of all five canonical murders, as well as those of Tabram, McKenzie and Coles. Illustrative snippets are included from authors such as Jack London, George Bernard Shaw and others who surveyed the social conditions of the Victorian East End. McNicoll also makes extensive use of contemporary press reports to further illustrate the text.

The final chapter (actually the "Epilogue") covers a wide array of suspects including Lewis Carroll, Walter Sickert, the Royal Conspiracy, Montague John Druitt, James Maybrick and Joseph Barnett. The author believes it is "highly unlikely that we will ever know for sure the identity of Jack the Ripper," but suggests that of all the suspects named to date, George Chapman and Francis Tumblety seem to be best of a poor bunch.

Well-written and meticulously researched, Susan McNicoll's Jack the Ripper is an excellent alternative for readers who want to learn more about Jack the Ripper but don't necessarily want to pick up a full-fledged, 300+ page book on the murders. Although experienced Ripperologists would probably not find much new information here, I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a basic introduction to the case.

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