Synopses & Reviews
Now updated with new material that brings the killer's picture into clearer focus.
In the fall of 1888, all of London was held in the grip of unspeakable terror. An elusive madman calling himself Jack the Ripper was brutally butchering women in the slums of London’s East End. Police seemed powerless to stop the killer, who delighted in taunting them and whose crimes were clearly escalating in violence from victim to victim. And then the Ripper’s violent spree seemingly ended as abruptly as it had begun. He had struck out of nowhere and then vanished from the scene. Decades passed, then fifty years, then a hundred, and the Ripper’s bloody sexual crimes became anemic and impotent fodder for puzzles, mystery weekends, crime conventions, and so-called “Ripper Walks” that end with pints of ale in the pubs of Whitechapel. But to number-one New York Times bestselling novelist Patricia Cornwell, the Ripper murders are not cute little mysteries to be transformed into parlor games or movies but rather a series of terrible crimes that no one should get away with, even after death. Now Cornwell applies her trademark skills for meticulous research and scientific expertise to dig deeper into the Ripper case than any detective before her—and reveal the true identity of this fabled Victorian killer.
In Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed, Cornwell combines the rigorous discipline of twenty-first century police investigation with forensic techniques undreamed of during the late Victorian era to solve one of the most infamous and difficult serial murder cases in history. Drawing on unparalleled access to original Ripper evidence, documents, and records, as well as archival, academic, and law-enforcement resources, FBI profilers, and top forensic scientists, Cornwell reveals that 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: Walter Richard Sickert.
It has been said of Cornwell that no one depicts the human capability for evil better than she. Adding layer after layer of circumstantial evidence to the physical evidence discovered by modern forensic science and expert minds, Cornwell shows that Sickert, who died peacefully in his bed in 1942, at the age of 81, was not only one of Great Britain’s greatest painters but also a serial killer, a damaged diabolical man driven by megalomania and hate. She exposes Sickert as the author of the infamous Ripper letters that were written to the Metropolitan Police and the press. Her detailed analysis of his paintings shows that his art continually depicted his horrific mutilation of his victims, and her examination of this man’s birth defects, the consequent genital surgical interventions, and their effects on his upbringing present a casebook example of how a psychopathic killer is created.
New information and startling revelations detailed in Portrait of a Killer include:
- How a year-long battery of more than 100 DNA tests—on samples drawn by Cornwell’s forensics team in September 2001 from original Ripper letters and Sickert documents—yielded the first shadows of the 75- to 114 year-old genetic evid...
"Can truth be stranger than Cornwell's fiction? Here, the best-selling novelist claims to uncover the identity of Jack the Ripper." Library Journal
"No one depicts the human capability for evil better than Patricia Cornwell." USA Today
"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
The #1 New York Times bestseller that detailed Cornwell's use of 21st-century forensic technology to identify the 19th-century murderer. Includes updated material and three 16-page photo inserts.
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.
Now updated with new material that brings the killer's picture into clearer focus
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.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: MR. NOBODY 1
Chapter Two: THE TOUR 8
Chapter Three: THE UNFORTUNATES 16
Chapter Four: BY SOME PERSON UNKNOWN 31
Chapter Five: A GLORIOUS BOY 41
Chapter Six: WALTER AND THE BOYS 59
Chapter Seven: THE GENTLEMAN SLUMMER 74
Chapter Eight: A BIT OF BROKEN LOOKING GLASS 86
Chapter Nine: THE DARK LANTERN 98
Chapter Ten: MEDICINE OF THE COURTS 107
Chapter Eleven: SUMMER NIGHT 120
Chapter Twelve: THE YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL 130
Chapter Thirteen: HUE AND CRY 141
C O N T E N T S
Chapter Fourteen: CROCHET WORK AND FLOWERS 154
Chapter Fifteen: A PAINTED LETTER 175
Chapter Sixteen: STYGIAN BLACKNESS 193
Chapter Seventeen: THE STREETS UNTIL DAWN 205
Chapter Eighteen: A SHINY BLACK BAG 219
Chapter Nineteen: THESE CHARACTERS ABOUT 229
Chapter Twenty: BEYOND IDENTITY 241
Chapter Twenty-One: A GREAT JOKE 253
Chapter Twenty-Two: BARREN FIELDS AND SLAG-HEAPS 262
Chapter Twenty-Three: THE GUEST BOOK 277
Chapter Twenty-Four: IN A HORSE-BIN 289
Chapter Twenty-Five: THREE KEYS 300
Chapter Twenty-Six: THE DAUGHTERS OF COBDEN 316
Chapter Twenty-Seven: THE DARKEST NIGHT IN THE DAY 331
Chapter Twenty-Eight: FURTHER FROM THE GRAVE 352