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Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper--Case Closedby Patricia Cornwell
Synopses & Reviews
The number-one New York Times-bestselling novelist Patricia Cornwell is known the world over for her brilliant storytelling, the courage of her characters, and the state-of-the-art forensic methods they employ.
In this headline-making new work of nonfiction, Cornwell turns her trademark skills for meticulous research and scientific expertise on one of the most chilling cases of serial murder in the history of crime-the slayings of Jack the Ripper that terrorized 1880s London. With the masterful intuition into the criminal mind that has informed her novels, Cornwell digs deeper into the case than any detective before her-and reveals the true identity of this elusive madman.
Enlisting the help of forensic experts, Cornwell examines all the physical evidence available: thousands of documents and reports, fingerprints, crime-scene photographs, original etchings and paintings, items of clothing, artists' paraphernalia, and traces of DNA. Her unavoidable conclusion: Jack the Ripper was none other than a respected painter of his day, an artist now collected by some of the world's finest museums.
"Cornwell, who spent $6 million (deductible) on her investigation...presents as prime evidence...the fact that Sickert titillated a young mistress by donning a red Ripper scarf at his easel....[I]n her scramble to get down to forensic business, Cornwell gets befuddled herself by first principles." David Cohen, Slate.com
"In order to make herself and her readers believe [her thesis, Cornwell] draws assumptions, plays fast and loose with facts, misinterprets language and makes fanciful readings of Sickert?s paintings....She quotes evidence to support her view but ignores it when it doesn?t suit her case....To attribute those murders to any person without cast-iron evidence or due regard for what is known rather than what is speculative, as Cornwell has attempted, is an act of irresponsible cruelty." Richard Shone, The Spectator (U.K.)
Book News Annotation:
Crime fiction writer Cornwell adds yet another volume to the Jack the Ripper literature. She argues that the serial killer had to be the painter Walter Richard Sickert (d. 1942) and that the killings continued beyond the 1888 murder spree. She presents a portrait of Sickert as deranged by genital deformations and points to clues in his paintings and his biography as giving weight to her description of him as psychopathic. Explorations of the physical evidence, including DNA tests commissioned by Cornwell are presented and new clues are sought in the accounts of the murders of the Ripper's victims.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Patricia Cornwell's most recent number-one bestsellers include The Last Precinct and Isle of Dogs. Her earlier work includes Postmortem-the only novel to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards and the French Prix du Roman d'Aventure in a single year-and Cruel and Unusual, which won Britain's prestigious Gold Dagger Award for the year's best crime novel of 1993. Her fictional chief medical examiner, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, won the 1999 Sherlock Award for best detective created by an American author. Cornwell helped establish the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine, the first forensic training facility of its kind in the nation, and serves as the Institute's Chairman of the Board. Visit the Institute's website vifsm.org and Cornwell's own website at patriciacornwell.com.
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