I commend Patricia Cornwell for the effort she put into this book, for the research she funded from her own pocket, and for the new forensic testing she performed on the Ripper letters. She wrote a very good book and for anyone who is fascinated by the enduring mystery that is Jack the Ripper, this is one more book to enjoy.
However, the book gave me the impression that Cornwell got the cart before the horse. Instead of looking at the facts objectively and formulating a conclusion, she started out with her conclusion (that Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper) and ever so gently bent her research to support that conclusion. She made a lot of assumptions, and failed to take seriously the fact that Sickert was out of the country during the time of the Ripper murders. It is true that Sickert was involved, that he did write a lot of Ripper letters, and that he depicted the murders in his art, but those things alone do not make him the killer.
For a more factual and objective look at all things Ripper, including a list of the most popular suspects, I recommend Paul Begg's Jack the Ripper: The Facts. It reads like a history book but is just what it claims to be, a book of pretty dry and unbiased facts. Begg suspects that the killer is a man named Kosminski, but as always, it is up to the reader to decide for themselves.
In all, Cornwell's book is good. It makes you think. It paints an interesting portrait of possibilities. But it is also not quite the 'case closed' argument that it claims to be, in my opinion at least. It's still a great read, and for that I still recommend it.
I found the book to be interesting at first, but I lost interest about half-way through. I think it makes an excellent case for Sickert possibly writing some of the Ripper letters, but that is all. I didn't find any of the other evidence to be strong enough for me to conclude that he was definitely the killer.
For more than a hundred years the murders of Jack the Ripper have remained among the world's greatest unsolved crimes, and a wealth of theories have been posited which have pointed the finger at royalty, a barber, a doctor, a woman, and an artist. Using her formidable range of forensic and technical skills, bestselling author Cornwell has applied the rigorous discipline of 21st century police investigation to the extant material, and here presents the hard evidence who the perpetrator really was.
Patricia L. reviewed Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper -- Case Closed on
Helpful Score: 1
This was possibly one of the worst books I have ever read. Patricia Cornwell should be ashamed of herself for writing this book.
I am not a huge Cornwell fan; I read her book on the Body Farm and found it to be poorly written but not terrible.
This book, on the other hand was a complete disaster. Her writing style is insane. It is almost as if the publisher printed her first draft. She CANNOT keep a train of thought going for more than a page and often jumps to completely unrelated story lines mid-paragraph. This was obviously annoying, but the worst and most irritating part of this book was complete lack of evidence or supporting information.
For someone who is "friends" with Bill Bass, NONE of his pragmatic thinking or unbiased presentation of facts has rubbed off on her at all. She uses Sickert's paintings as proof that he was violent and deranged much the same way the Nazi's used avant-garde art to prove that modern artists were degenerates. Shame on Patricia Cornwell, shame. She makes unsubstantiated accusations throughout the book, uses pieces of 'evidence' that are not even attributed to Sickert OR Jack the Ripper to 'prove' that Sickert was Jack the Ripper. She also used extremely misleading language throughout, but especially in regards to her forensic evidence. The whole book is a sad joke. Her assumptions range from baseless to irritating to inflammatory. Patricia Cornwell should leave the real-life detective work to professionals. All she did with this book was embarrass herself.
I believe that Patricia Cornwell would not have invested the very large sum of money, and the valuable time it took to research, investigate, and write this book if she didn't feel deep inside of herself she could solve this mystery. She used the most up to date forensic tools possible and was assisted by very knowledgeable people. I read the book, and read it again, and it made more sense to me than any of the other books I have read on the subject, and I have read most of them. Until there is better research done and another person is found who is a better suspect than this one, I'm going to "close the book" on Jack the Ripper. I highly recommend this title to anyone who has followed the story of Jack the Ripper down through the recent years, and who still has a lot of questions about this brutal serial killer of another time.
While appreciate the time, effort and money that Ms. Cornwell put into this work. There are several problems with it. 1. The obnoxious title "...Case Closed", as if this is even remotely THE definitive work on the subject. 2. She is dead wrong about who Jack the Ripper was. (John Douglas, the founder of FBI profiling, has stated the exact personality type of the Ripper and it was not at all that of Sickert. John Douglas and other FBI profilers have also stated that this would be a RELATIVELY simple case to solve if it happened today.) 3. As other reviewers have stated, the author starts off with an assumption and builds facts around it. 4. There are lots of better books on Jack the Ripper, two of gthem were written by Paul Begg. 5. And worth mentioning again, the obnoxious title.
A case study in obsession. Cornwell apparently spent major amounts of her own money in developing this theory, and in the end, all the evidence boils down to a dislike of the suspect and of his art, and smoke and mirrors. Could she be right? Could this new suspect REALLY be the answer to the riddle of Jack The Ripper? Sure, I suppose it's possible, but until the development of a DNA profile linking him to, at a minimum, the Ripper letters, hang on to your objectivity. We truly seem to be no closer to proving the identity of the Ripper than Scotland Yard was 110 years ago.
Pat Cornwell obviously did a lot of research on this topic, and the writing is up to her usual high standards. However, I just didn't find it as fascinating as she did. By the end I was thinking "Yes, Pat, you're probably right, but who cares?"
Debbie G. (kierlex) reviewed Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper -- Case Closed on
Very thorough investigation of the Jack the Ripper case, though I don't think she proves beyond a doubt that her man was Jack the Ripper (and I've since read other material that discounts some of her conclusions). However, it was an interesting read and I like true crime stories so I would recommend it to true crime fans. I've not read any of her fiction books so I can't compare them to this.
Using her formidable range of forensic and technical skill, Patricia Cornwell applies the rigorous discipline of 21st century police investigation to present hard evidence as to the identity of Jack the Ripper
This is a fascinating account of how popular author Patricia Cornwell and her team of forensic scientists discovered the identity of Jack the Ripper by using modern methods to analyze turn of the century evidence.
According to her, Jack wasn't any of the people that have been so publically accused. It wasn't that he was so much smarter than the police (although they did seem to ignore quite a bit of evidence), it was that Jack was so much ahead of his time. The technology simply wasn't available.
I'd heard several negative reviews of this book, which fortunately didn't make my interest lessen because I would have been sorry to have missed it. If you're looking for Scarpetta and Marino, yes, you will be disappointed, this isn't fiction with all the fictional twists and turns. The genre is true crime, and sometimes true crime can be a little tedious compared to a novel, because of all the pesky facts.
Not your ordinary Patricia Cornwell book. Cornwell used the formidable forensic skills she has accumulated through writing her Kay Scarpetta books and applied them to the evidence to solve the Jack the Ripper case. Interesting reading accompanied by photographs.
This is a book made to generate income. It worked. As a plausible case for the identification of Jack the Ripper, it's lacking. Of course it is. It's a crime novel. It has to return to the excitement and gut-wrenching details; it can't -- it's not allowed to, in this genre! -- linger too long on the science or the law or the history. It already "errs" in that direction too much to be an effective crime novel. And unfortunately too little to be an effective legal or forensic assessment of the Ripper or of Sickert. I think the author, editors, and publishers -- and all the other media folks who jumped on this bandwagon -- played their game very well. And the rest of us can enjoy the ride, remembering that is an amusement after all.
America's #1 bestselling crime writer solves the case that has baffled experts for more than a century.
For over 100 years the Jack the Ripper murders have remained among the world's greatest unsolved crimes, and theories have been posited which point the finger at royalty, a barber, a doctor, a woman, and an artist. Using her formidable range of forensic and technical skills, bestselling author Patricia Cornwell has applied the rigorous discipline of twenty-first-century police investigation to the extant material, and here unmasks the killer.
This book freaked me out, but I couldn't stop reading it. It was so interesting but also very scary in that it lets you see a piece of the serial killer's mind... I am now watching my back all the time!