Ripperology: A Study of the World's First Serial Killer and a Literary Phenomenon

Odell, Robin
Kent State UP 2006
ISBN 978-0-87338-861-0
258pp
Date finished: 2014-07-18

Any famous crime that remains unsolved becomes a tantalizing puzzle to solve: the Ripper crimes, Lizzie Borden's murder. (Even solved crimes, like the Lindbergh baby or the JFK assassination, can spawn lively arguments.) The author wrote a 1966 book that argued the Ripper was probably a worker in one of the many slaughterhouses not far from Whitechapel, but this book is a survey of the field and not so much of the original crime. The murders and contemporary investigations are described in the book's 24-page prologue, and then we're off down the road, from 1890s speculations about an American killer, mid-century arguments about a Russian or Polish doctor, FBI profiling suggesting the killer lived in the area and was lower-class, and the 1970s eccentric theories that drag in the royal family and most of the historical figures of the area. (Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been suggested as a suspect.) Odell tries to play fair with all of the various proposals and is not settling any personal scores with opponents, though it's clear when he thinks a theory is weak or an artifact is forged. My only disappointment is that despite having the word 'literary' in the subtitle, this book doesn't discuss the Ripper's portrayal in fiction or film at all; that would surely be enough material for another book of similar length.

Tagged: true crime

Permalink: http://books.amk.ca/2014/07/Ripperology.html

%T Ripperology
%S A Study of the World's First Serial Killer and a Literary Phenomenon
%A Odell, Robin
%K true crime
%G ISBN 978-0-87338-861-0
%I Kent State UP
%C Kent, Ohio
%P 258pp
%D 2006
%@ 2014-07-18
%* *

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