The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper

James Carnac, Author
James Carnac. Sourcebooks, $14.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4022-8058-0
Reviewed on: 05/06/2013
Release date: 06/01/2013
Is the memoir purporting to be the confessions of the notorious serial killer actually that, or just a hoax? Most readers will be naturally skeptical of this account (slated to be published on the 125th anniversary of the crimes) from former medical student and soi-disant murderer James Willoughby Carnac—especially given the literary tone of much of “the Ripper’s” recollections: “The windows were in absolute darkness, but the brick-work seemed to glisten, not only with the rain beating upon it but with a kind of inherent phosphorescence....” Carnac traces his path to infamy from his childhood, when he’s traumatized by the murder of his mother by his father, who then turns the fatal knife on himself. He discusses his compulsion to kill, attributing it to his ancestral line of French executioners. The discoverer of the manuscript—bizarrely, a writer of plays for children who came into possession of the document in 2008—states that he “removed and destroyed certain portions” because of their “revolting” details, which most will conclude refer to the Ripper’s horrific mutilations; if this is true, the manuscript was robbed of precisely those facts that only the real killer would have known. In an appendix, Ripper expert Paul Begg does a good job of addressing and countering problems raised by the account, but in the end, it could be taken for simply a clever work of historical fiction. (Sept.)
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