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Publisher's Summary

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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    274
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    35
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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

I usually stay up late to finish books by Cornwell but this one beats Ambien

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

I thought this was a new book.

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.

37 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring & Tedious

This book is not what I expected. Just a long string of facts that the narrator delivers with lack of tone or inflection.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book!

This is such a great interesting book to read. Not only does the author give you all sides, the investigative work was amazing. The story is riveting and includes historical detail like what it was like to be rich or poor then and also surgeries (yikes!) at the time. Great fascinating book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 03-02-17

'It Could Be That', 'Maybe', 'Perhaps'

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!

32 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Impeccably researched and compelling.

I don't understand a lot of the criticism this audio book has received. Some people take issue with some of Ms. Cornwell's speculation, but they seem to mention some of the least compelling evidence she presents. She has done incredibly thorough research on a killer whose crimes date back almost 130 years, and with original investigations that preserved very little and ignored what was likely crucial evidence. I found her account and case to be quite convincing, and some of the evidence she managed to find is shockingly compelling. I also liked the narration done by Masterson. This isn't a crime novel, it's a systematic analysis with detailed information supporting the author's theory. If you are interested in true crime, forensic examination, Jack the Ripper, or Victorian era crime and police procedure, I think you will definitely appreciate this work.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Walter Sickert was evil: case closed

Not sure where to start, I could go on for days about the plethora of evidence that Walter Sickert was a man of bitter, manipulative morbid cruelty. He destroyed lives and joy wherever he went. Who knows whether he was Jack the Ripper, but he can't be ruled out based on Cornwall's extensive and intuitive research. Certainly, Jack the Ripper may have been someone else, but he couldn't have been anymore more vile than this so-called artist, Walter Sickert.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

an amazing read

I enjoyed this book just as much as I did the first Ripper book. thank you for continually keeping my curiosity satisfied once again an amazing book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Redundant Ripper

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It was a repeat of a previous Cornwell book, just added some details. Disappointing and boring, did not follow the sequence of the murders but jumped around a lot.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Will try Dead Run, like who done its.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Hahn
  • Stillman Valley, IL, United States
  • 05-31-17

Wooden

I could barely force myself to finish. The author's writing is wooden and self-referential. The narrator is merely wooden.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 03-25-17

Sloppy performance, book lacked clear structure

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

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.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Possibly organise the material more like a case for the prosecution.

Would you be willing to try another one of Mary Stuart Masterson’s performances?

Of a subject set in the USA, perhaps.

Do you think Ripper needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No, unless radical new information becomes available.

Any additional comments?

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • bri6942
  • 03-03-17

Nothing New

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.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Kanterla
  • 05-18-17

Not convinced.....

I rated the narrator as 3, but in honesty there isn't much more she could have done to improve.

It's the content of the book that I take issue with.

So, Walter Sickert may have written some of the Ripper letters, he may have been a terribly unpleasant person, and he may have had some extremely scarring experiences in childhood. However, I am not convinced that the links to the horrific murders which took place in the "time" of Jack the Ripper have really been made in this book.

A lot of the evidence refers to undated letters and speculation regarding such things as Sickert's artwork, and it's all just a little bit too tenuous to be believable.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • ABC
  • 08-19-17

Don't bother!

Well, we now know what went wrong with the Scarpetta storyline - PC has lost her mind! This is the worst thing I've ever listened to. The narration is robotic and place names are mispronounced, why use an American to read an English history? The subject matter itself? Where do I start.. If I were Walter Sickerts family I'd probably sue. This is character assassination without the flimsiest piece of proof. I think everyone is agreed he wrote some of the Ripper letters. Writing Ripper letters was a national pastime and half the country was at it. There is nothing here to remotely suggest he was responsible and the way PC blackens his name is disgusting. I'm glad this was a Daily Deal, I'd be asking for a refund otherwise. This is just more of the same insufferable PC nonsense which is a shame as she was a decent writer - once.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • geoff
  • 07-25-17

Ruined by ridiculous 'spooky events'

this was generally a good listen and quite compelling argument. Unfortunately it was ruined by trying to link disasters, technical glitches and a terrorist attack to some kind of ghostly jack the ripper!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Katie
  • 07-06-17

an American crime novelist failing

if you have read the work by Cornwell you will recognize that many of her murders salaciously copy those of the real life Ripper crimes...her arguments are not in any way sound

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • c
  • 04-25-17

Poor

Awful robotic American narration spoilt the audio book. Still not convinced of the outcome. No conclusive evidence provided by the author.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew Cassidy
  • 03-15-17

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Colin D.
  • 10-19-18

Interesting Listen

This was an interesting update to the original title. It is well narrated and makes quite a compelling case against Walter Sickert being Jack the Ripper.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sue Smith
  • 03-04-18

Well researched but let down by poor narration

I love Cornwell’s book as they are so well researched as is this one. Sadly it’s badly let down by the narration which is stilted and wooden to say the least so much so that I couldn’t finish it