Part of the Mystery Library Series
Natalie M. Rosinsky
Lucent Books, February 2004.
110pp. Illustrated, bib, index.
ISBN 1590184440. Hardcover. Juvenile non-fiction.
Part of the Mystery Library series, published by Lucent Books, Jack the Ripper by Natalie M. Rosinsky is geared toward the young-adult crowd. Although the publishers don't mention a specific target age-group, the book would probably be most appropriate for children over 12. Parents should understand that the author does include some graphic details, including wound descriptions and two contemporary drawings of the bodies of Polly Nichols and Catherine Eddowes. No mortuary photographs are included. Discussion also includes prostitution in Victorian times.
Rosinsky covers the five canonical victims first, including abundant details on police investigation, letters received from "Jack the Ripper", and intimate testimonies from inquests and witnesses. The text is well-sourced with nearly 100 foot-notes. A few mistakes creep in (such as the acceptance of the 17 September "Ripper" letter, which most researchers believe to have been a modern hoax), but on the whole the text provides a strong overview of the main facts of the case.
The author next focuses on a wide array of suspects, including Druitt, Kosminski, Ostrog, Pedachenko, Barnett, Hutchinson, Pizer, Tumblety, Klosowksi, J.K. Stephen, David Cohen and Sir William Gull. Next is a chapter, "Does Science Have the Answer?", which provides an in-depth view at the testing of the Maybrick Diary, the mtDNA evidence Cornwell uses against Walter Sickert, and the profiling techniques used by John Douglas. No conclusions are made against any suspect - Rosinsky simply provides the major evidence for and against each suspect, and allows her reader to decide their guilt or innocence.
Teen-aged children should have no problem reading and understanding the text, which is written mostly in simple, easy-to-understand English. There are occasional extracts from Victorian literature which might prove difficult for young children to fully comprehend without some adult guidance. Numerous black-and-white illustrations and photographs can be found throughout the text.
Mystery Library: Jack the Ripper is well-researched and very up-to-date. Rosinsky even sources material from such recent books as Begg's Definitive History (2003) and Cornwell's Portrait of a Killer (2002) - she even includes contemporary press reports and other research materials sourced from the Casebook: Jack the Ripper web site. All-in-all, an excellent, well-rounded summation of the case, perfect for parents who wish to introduce their children to the mystery of Jack the Ripper.