Wendy (here_be_dragons) wrote,

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Book #4 - "Portrait of a Killer"

Book #4 - "Portrait of a Killer; Jack the Ripper - Case Closed" by Patricia Cornwell

In this book, Cornwell (who writes the Kay Scarpetta books which I *love*) examines forensic evidence in the Jack the Ripper case, and comes to the conclusion that Walter Richard Sickert, a European artist, was really Jack the Ripper. On the whole, while this book was interesting, I was also somewhat disappointed by it. The evidence that she presents is often interesting, but I felt that she used a somewhat sensationalistic style (not quite "National Enquirer" level, but along those lines) in her writing. I also think that she makes some fairly large leaps of logic, which isn't necessarily a bad thing - sometimes she admits that she's reaching a bit, which is fine; other times, however, she doesn't, and this had the effect for me of weakening her overall argument. Also, I found that in many places, the writing seemed awkward (which was very surprising to me, as I have loved so much of her fiction), and I was also surprised when the book just ends, with no sort of wrap-up or overal conclusion being made. I just found it a bit difficult to read, well, maybe not difficult as much as uncomfortable, as I thought her writing was not always smooth. I get the feeling that she was very emotionally involved in this (and probably found it very disturbing and stressful to write), and somehow that affected her style.

As for the content, I think she does present a good case based on the evidence that still exists, but I'm not entirely convinced that she's right about Sickert. However, I'm afraid that I'm unconvinced just because her "voice" didn't hold all that much credibility for me, because I had trouble with her writing style, which is a shame if she's right. ::grin:: There definitely is a lot of historical information here for anyone interested in the Ripper case, and I would like now to go and investigate what others (historians and criminologists) think of her thesis. If she's right, she's done a fantastic bit of detective work here, and in any case it is an interesting bit of history. So, overall, while I don't think it's a fantastic read, I would recommend to anyone with an interest in Jack the Ripper. (Received as a gift; have BookCrossed)
Tags: books

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