From New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell comes Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert, a comprehensive and intriguing exposé of one of the world's most chilling cases of serial murder - and the police force that failed to solve it.
Vain and charismatic Walter Sickert made a name for himself as a painter in Victorian London. But the ghoulish nature of his art - as well as extensive evidence - points to another name, one that's left its bloody mark on the pages of history: Jack the Ripper. Cornwell has collected never-before-seen archival material - including a rare mortuary photo, personal correspondence and a will with a mysterious autopsy clause - and applied cutting-edge forensic science to open an old crime to new scrutiny.
Incorporating material from Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed, this new edition has been revised and expanded to include eight new chapters.
©2002, 2016 Cornwell Enterprises, Inc. (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all right reserved.
I was most disappointed to find that this book is basically just a reprint with a little extra material from Ms. Cornwell's book "Portrait of a killer" which I already own and loved.
Not really happy with this turn of events.
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
Beginning in the year 2000 my wife and I would listen to audio books in the car while driving 400 miles each way to and from visiting our daughter and her family. One day late in 2002 my wife excitedly told me she had a new Patricia Cornwell book not in the Kay Scarpetta series to listen to on our next trip. The title was Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed. Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert is a re-release of that 2002 book with 8 added chapters and a different narrator.
To state it succinctly, Cornwell does not make a believable case against Walter Sickert as Jack the Ripper. She builds guess after guess and assumption after assumption into a totally implausible case. Although this book is classified non-fiction, it is clearly fiction, horrible fiction. I am unsure which is the worst book of over 10,000 I have ever read or listened to during my almost 74 years, but Ripper is in the running. It cost only $1.99, so it is not worth the effort to return it.
I simply do not understand how in hell this book gets a 3.8 star average rating at Audible or a 3.4 rating at Amazon or a 3.67 rating at Goodreads. It is in the most literal sense literary garbage.
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
What starts as an engaging listen quickly turns exasperating. Cornwell paints a vivid portrait of Walter Sickert as a deeply unsound individual with a horrific childhood (a series of operations for fistula that ended with a third at the time he was only five years old; a disturbed father and unreliable mother) that makes him... troubled. There. That's where it all ends. After that, "Ripper" is a series of purely speculative statements that wind up being yawn-inducing and almost farcical.
She constantly states that he cannot be pinpointed near the scene of any of the crimes: sometimes he was within a few miles, sometimes he was miles upon miles away but... he could've traveled! Then there's the paper of letters to the police and newspapers: It was the same brand of stationery that Sickert and his wife were using at the time! Possible witnesses noticed a man with a wrapped package: He was known to wrap his paintings in newspaper! There are more than the five or six women (tho' truly, as many as eleven definitely) attributed to him: Why, there could be as many as a dozen! Maybe more than twenty! Never mind the fact that none of the other victims she reports have the same signatures as his earlier works...
I was hoping that she'd address some of the other suspects, particularly Kosminski but, after dismissing the DNA evidence (which I agree, is ludicrous), she simply states that he was a violently insane man with a hatred of women... Wait, what?!? Why doesn't she expound on that rather than devoting an entire chapter to proving that the Royals had nothing to do with the murders?
Don't waste your time, and for heaven's sake, don't waste your credit on this book. The only reason I gave this two full stars was because the Afterword is the most interesting part of the book. It's how she got involved and has some of the things that have happened during and after: Techno-glitches, lightning strikes causing house fires, paintings that shift and move. Perhaps it's not so much the wicked soul of Walter Sickert causing her distress as it is the victims saying: You're barking up the wrong tree!
Just the single worst audio book ever.
Parts of this did not even sound like a real person.
I love audio books, and i love this author but i will avoid any more books read by this person.
For years Patricia Cornwell has been an amazing author, so I was excited to find this book. Words can not even express how bad and terrible this book is. I would of given it a 1/5 of a star if I could. Save your money
If you have read the first book don't waste your credit, think twice if you haven't,
Patricia Cornwall brings a reasonable argument for sickert being the author of the ripper letters but not the. Identity of the ripper himself , as John Douglas ( the founding head of the fbi behavioral science unit whom Benton Wesley , Jack Crawford and criminal minds Gideon is based on) asserts it is unlikely that a compulsive killer would quit and go back to a normal life , more likely he (the overwhelming majority are male) is apprehended and institutionalised , dies or moves on to new pastures , neither Sickert or Bruce Robinson's Maybrick Do this after the final murder , more likely that Sickert was the dear boss writer as he would have had plenty of access to the crime scenes/autopsy in the free for all that was east end London at the time.
"Sloppy performance, book lacked clear structure"
Patricia Cornwell's novels are set in The USA and an American narrator adds to the ambience. This book is set in the U.K. so an English narrator would be better. The narrator should have taken more trouble to check pronunciation of place names.
The book doesn't follow a clear path - it's not chronological and so it has a tendency to repeat material already covered. There is a lack of information about Walter Sickert's later life, which left me wondering about when and why he retired as a serial killer.
The speculation about the precise nature of Walter's early surgery and any subsequent physical effects seems laboured, unnecessary, and in poor taste, given the total lack of information.
Possibly organise the material more like a case for the prosecution.
Of a subject set in the USA, perhaps.
No, unless radical new information becomes available.
The author appears to have prejudged the previous books on the subject as not worthy of consideration. That being so, she can hardly complain that 'Ripperologists' have similarly prejudged her work.
"An objective account of murder"
Detailed characterisation of Sickert and his mind as well as the mind of a serial sexual killer. Drawing parallels between Sickert and modern day serial killers with detailed accounts of murders during the period of the Ripper. Great listening to the narrative on audible, really enjoyed it.
I love Patricia Cornwell novels and I like anytime crime related, especially non fiction. I found this every interesting, well researched and brilliantly written.
Once again, p Cornwell is the undisputed queen of the gory genre. Only suitable for those with a strong constitution.
"A penny dreadful"
It's a pretty ludicrous theory. Sweeping generalisations and conjecture take the place of research and facts. I wouldn't bother with this; instead I'd buy Donald Rumbelow's comprehensive tome on the subject. Sickest is as likely the ripper as James Maybrick.
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