Social historian Rubenhold (The Covent Garden Ladies) more than justifies another book about the 1888 Jack the Ripper murders by focusing on the killer’s five victims: Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elisabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. This unique approach not only restores humanity to the dead and counters glorification of the Ripper but also enables Rubenhold to offer some original insights into the crimes. In her careful parsing of the available accounts of the inquests from newspaper reports, she convincingly argues that three of the victims were not prostitutes, and thereby undermines numerous theories premised on the killer’s targeting members of that profession. Rubenhold reconstructs their sad lives, which, for some, included struggles with alcoholism and domestic abuse. She believes that the women found dead on the streets of London’s East End may have been sleeping rough, and that all were slaughtered while asleep, a theory that explains the absence of outcries or defensive wounds. The lack of grisly forensic details highlighted in other books on the subject will be a relief to many readers. This moving work is a must for Ripperologists. Agent: Sarah Ballard, United Agents. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 03/04/2019 Release date: 04/09/2019 Genre: Nonfiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.