“We lose ourselves in books, we find ourselves there too."

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Yes, that’s right, i’m back!

Remember that train journey I wrote about in my last review? Well I still had a few of those left when I found myself in need of another read. And so, Jack the Ripper found its way into my hands…

Ironically one of the tube stations that I went through on my journey was Whitechapel. It felt appropriate to read this. As humans, we find ourselves less fascinated with the known facts and more intrigued about the unknown. Yes we like a good dinosaur but how did they die? The princes of the tower died but did their uncle murder them? Jack the Ripper committed unspeakable crimes but who was he?

“It was a myth, a fantastical portrayal of my mentor himself, his legend forever anchoring itself to history in a way mine will never be. Spring Heeled Jack, the boogeyman with eyes like fireballs who could jump unnaturally high. Breathing blue flames he’d ravage women with his claws.”
― Ilse V. Rensburg

The Whitechapel murderer…Jack the Ripper. We all recognise his name and not just that but we recognise the abhorrent crimes he committed and the fact he was never condemned for those atrocities. Despite this, clues were left, theories compiled and many tv series, documentaries, films and books have been made in the 135 since his reign of terror. 

“…unfortunately you’re also breathing the same air that once circulated through the body of Jack the Ripper…”

This book in particular reviews the evidence: from the murders and the victims themselves to reports and newspapers and finally to the letters sent to the police by the Ripper himself! It evaluates the evidence and the suspects and forms a conclusion on who the most likely of the suspects the author believes was in fact Jack the Ripper.

Whilst I was interested in the chapters about each victim in particular – giving them a name, that’s kind of all they were…victims with a name. They weren’t expanded on and not given a voice of their own.

“The victims of Jack the Ripper were never ‘just prostitutes’; they were daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and lovers. They were women. They were human beings, and surely that in itself is enough.” – ― Hallie Rubenhold

The author even went as far to debate if they were even a victim of the Ripper.  For the most part, the book was dull and written in a nature which doesn’t draw the reader in. Most of the book wasn’t objective either, with the author voicing their thoughts and feelings on everything from if one of the victims did belong to the Ripper killings to if Jack the Ripper wrote a note to the police. I felt unable to formulate my own opinions. I feel some things were wrongfully dismissed by the author – some letters which were supposedly written by the Ripper were dismissed for the reason that he’d stated in the letters he’d kill again but didn’t. Despite the Ripper remaining elusive, it doesn’t mean he didn’t die before he could kill again or he moved or was imprisoned. 

H. H. Holmes
H.H. Holmes

One final thing that should have been even looked into was a potential suspect who went by the name of H.H. Holmes. I myself love a good mystery and as humans we are all drawn to the unknown. I also know about H.H. Holmes after his character directly inspired the character James March (played by Evan Peters) in American Horror Story. But for those that aren’t aware of him, let me educate you further…

Chicago Hauntings: The Story Of H.H. Holmes' Murder Castle, And Sightings  In The Basement Of The Englewood Post Office Standing In Its Place - CBS  Chicago
The outside of the Murder Castle.

H.H Holmes was infamous in America – he was a con-man but worse than that he was a serial killer; operating the Murder Castle in Chicago during the World’s Fair in 1893. The Murder Hotel as its sometimes otherwise known,  from the outside looked like any normal building but inside, it was a house of horrors. Holmes created asphyxiation chambers, mazes, and hidden stairs.  There were hinged walls and false partitions with some rooms had five doors and others had none. Secret, airless chambers were found underneath floorboards — and iron plate-lined walls appeared to stifle all sound. He hired multiple different builders so no-one could suspect the gruesome scheme he had planned. His plan was ruined by him being arrested for theft and whilst in custody, the police started to link him to murders. He was sentenced to death for one murder despite confessing to at least 27 murders in his small Chicago hotel; however some historians think the numbers could be as high as 200 murders. 

Floor Plan Of H. H. Holmes House

So why is my babbling relevant? Well someone who was a relative to H.H. Holmes had a sample of his handwriting and the police in London had samples of the Rippers handwriting from the letters he sent. A handwriting analysis was carried out which proved the handwritings match or at very least are very very similar. Add to that the fact that during the times of the Ripper murders, H.H. Holmes was in London and he returned to America straight after the last murder. Whilst the modus operandi of the Ripper and Holmes differs, you cannot deny there is cause for suspicion with this suspect and feels odd that this wasn’t included in the book. 

“At its very core, the story of Jack the Ripper is a narrative of a killer’s deep, abiding hatred of women, and our culture’s obsession with the mythology serves only to normalize its particular brand of misogyny… In order to keep him alive, we have had to forget his victims. We have become complicit in their diminishment.”
― Hallie Rubenhold

Whilst parts of this book are interesting, it is not a 5 star from me!

Until next time,

Keep reading,

D x

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