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Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed | [Patricia Cornwell]

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed

Between August and November 1888, at least seven women were murdered in London's Whitechapel area. The gruesome nature of the their deaths caused panic in the East End for months, and gave rise to the sobriquet that was to become shorthand for a serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
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Publisher's Summary

Between August and November 1888, at least seven women were murdered in London's Whitechapel area. The gruesome nature of the their deaths caused panic in the East End for months, and gave rise to the sobriquet that was to become shorthand for a serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

For over a hundred years the murders have remained among the world's greatest unsolved crimes. Using her forensic skills, Patricia Cornwell has applied the discipline of 21st-century police investigation to the extant material, and presents the perpetrator as the world-famous artist Walter Sickert.

With her knowledge of criminal investigation and her consummate skills as a best-selling writer, Patricia Cornwell has produced a book that pays due respect to the people whose deaths spawned one of the 20th century's least attractive entertainment industries; Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddows, Mary Kelly, and others.

©2002 Cornwell Enterprises, Inc.; (P)2002 Putnam Berkley Audio and Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Kate Reading's narration helps punctuate the author's argument. She speaks with such authority that one is convinced by the second chapter. Nonetheless, one wants to hear every point Cornwall makes." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (147 )
5 star
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4.0 (68 )
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4.1 (66 )
5 star
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4 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Kathleen Canyon Country , CA, USA 06-28-04
    Kathleen Canyon Country , CA, USA 06-28-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
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    "Fascinating - BUT"

    I liked this book. Really, really liked it. Have listened to it twice and I didn't get tired of it. A little disturbing but in the truest sense of Patricia Cornwell.

    However, I also found it in paper version - and there's a lot of illustrations referenced that I didn't realize is included in the book. If you're really fascinated by the Ripper (ha!ha!) you'll want this - and the book version, too.

    24 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J Ogden, UT, United States 11-28-07
    J Ogden, UT, United States 11-28-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    7
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    "Mind Numbing o.O"

    This is the fist review I have ever wrote. I felt if I could save even one person from wasting thier time and money on this book it would be worth me coming out of my shell to do it.

    I thought of modern authers Jorden was the master of fluff. We have a new Master. Not only does Cornwell go on and on and on and on and on... (Sorry) about concepts and or facts, but Cornwell's speculation at times is disguised as a two or three word statement. I felt betrayed by this disguise. I would not suggest this to anyone for any reason. I am sorry I purchased this one.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Akron, OH, USA 06-23-06
    Anna Akron, OH, USA 06-23-06 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    6
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    "It made me want to slit my own throat"

    Two words come to mind...God awful. The sad part is, I am a Cornwell fan. In this book, however, she had a tendency to run on and on about just about anything and everything, over explaining the simplest concepts. I was also turned off by the general attitude of Cornwell. She was very condescending to the reader and other authors of the topic alike. Is is almost as if she is saying,"Good God how could the rest of the world be so stupid" and "Why do I need to explain thist to you." Well Pat you don't. The rest of the world is not stupid.

    As displeased as I am with Cornwell, I am equally dispeased with the narator, who floats in and out of her brittish accent for no apparent reason. The only thing worse than the boring lecture that this book turned out to be was the voice and style of the narrator.

    All thumbs down. A real turn off. If it would have been my first Cornwell book...it would have been my last.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip Arlington, TX 01-23-13
    Phillip Arlington, TX 01-23-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too tedious for me."

    I wanted to like this book...I really did. I've been fascinated with the story since reading "From Hell" by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell many years ago. "From Hell" is, of course, a fictional account so I thought I'd try a non-fiction account of the events. I wish I had chosen a different account. This book was B-O-R-I-N-G. I only made it a few hours in and I just couldn't do it anymore. Maybe it's a book that works better in print than in audio format. I don't know. All I know is this book did not work for me.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Cave Creek, AZ, USA 08-04-05
    David Cave Creek, AZ, USA 08-04-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Author too self-congratulatory."

    The author was too much for this book. She seemed to pat herself on the back far too often and there was an underlying "I know best" attitude that took away from what was obviously a well-researched book. I couldn't finish it for that reason.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Klubell 02-09-05
    Klubell 02-09-05 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "not as convincing as the author would like"

    I listened to most of this book on a long car ride and I have to say, it definitely kept my interest. Since I knew little about the Ripper legend, when I got home I searched around for more info on the web. My understanding of the book really changed. As much as Cornwell would like to think her book represents THE definitive case for who Jack the Ripper was, it really is little more than one of several competing theories, and a rather swiss-cheese one at that. Her prose makes it seem as if one should be amazed that the world hasn't come to understand the villainy of Walter Sickert sooner. In the end, many of her pieces of "evidence" seemed to be pure conjecture. I guess I also expected that the concluding chapter would contain some additional discussion about the fact that Ripper-ologists are far from unified behind the Sickert theory. But there was no such discussion and I found the end somewhat unsatisfying.

    It's a minor point, but I also didn't care for the narrator's style or inflection. Her accents were inauthentic and a little grating.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deana Carson City, NV, United States 12-09-10
    Deana Carson City, NV, United States 12-09-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Good, but Better in Print"

    While the reader does a good job with the book and it is interesting to listen to, I prefer the print version. There are details you just can't get in audio format. Some of those details and visual aids help support Cornwell's theories and strengthen her case. Still, even in audio format it's a thought-provoking book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Ohr Huntington Beach, CA 12-30-04
    R. Ohr Huntington Beach, CA 12-30-04 Member Since 2003

    hbRN

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Extraordinary literary work."

    For a few years my friends have been telling me to read anything by Patricia Cornwell. Ironically, I picked this book for my first exposure to her. Thinking I was getting a novel, I was a little surprised to learn I was reading about a real case. But now I know what all the excitement is about this author's writing. She writes with such richness and depth that every word is a delight. Since I am in the medical field, I especially enjoyed her detail to the physiological aspects of the cases she was reviewing. It all makes perfect sense and I agree that the subtitle "Case closed" is appropriate. I will be reading more by this author!
    I can't say enough about Kate Reading as a narrator for this book! A short way into the book, I suddenly realized that I recognized the reader from the "Shopaholic" series. She is excellent in both and is a reader I look for now in Audible books. She adds so much to the book through her delivery.
    For all those who have heard of Jack the Ripper over the years and saw him more of a romantic figure thanks to the inadequate coverage of his many crimes, I highly recommend this book. The pure horror of what this man did is a story that needs to be told because it not only corrects a faulty history heretofore, but it also gives a good view into the psychopathic killers mind. Awesome work.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Fort Worth, TX, United States 05-04-14
    Jennifer Fort Worth, TX, United States 05-04-14

    I'm a writer and I love books of all types

    ratings
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    "compelling investigation"

    compelling case for who the " ripper " could've been great investigation and telling of the details even a century later

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Georgie-girl Las Vegas, NV, United States 02-17-13
    Georgie-girl Las Vegas, NV, United States 02-17-13 Member Since 2012
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    "At Long Last...Mystery Solved..."
    What did you love best about Portrait of a Killer?

    This was well written, well researched and documented book. I liked the fact that there was some scientific evidence to back up what was written. After reading it, I do believe this case is indeed closed.


    Any additional comments?

    If you have ever read any books, watched any movies and/or television biopics, and/or watched any documentaries on Jack the Ripper, you will find this a fascinating listen. Ms Cornwell presents her research and builds a case, both circumstantial and forensic, against Walter Richard Sickert, a famous artist and painter of the day. I do believe this is one of the great mysteries solved. I wonder if Ms Cornwell would turn her attentions to another great unsolved mystery: The Black Dahlia.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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