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10 thoughts on “Portrait of a Killer: Jack The Ripper - Case Closed

  1. says:

    For weeks, I attempted to finish Patricia Cornwell s Portrait of a Killer Jack the Ripper, Case Closed I haven t written a real book review, or even been inclined to write one, since High School English Lit., but this book frustrated me enough to write one.I ve heard from many people what a wonderful piece of forensic investigation it is, how interesting, and that it seems the most plausible answer to the question of whodunit It must be confessed, that though I ordinarily like Patricia Cornwell s style of writing, and find her fiction very entertaining, I could not finish this book It s just too big a fish tale to swallow I just cannot finish a book that purports to have solved the case 100% when every page is peppered with phrases such as may, could have been, not saying absolutely, and it seems likely This is not good investigation This book is full of theories, based on assumptions, based on shaky premises, originating from a supposition that the man who produced such 19th and early 20th century dark and tawdry expressionist works such as the Camden Town paintings could actually have been the real killer It is a theory that very few Ripperologists feel is even worth mentioning, aside from the fact that it has gotten a tremendous amount of media play since its 2002 publication date, even being made into a BBC documentary, co produced, naturally, by the heavily invested, and completely biased Cornwell She relies strongly on 100 year old mitochondrial DNA, which, as far as I know, would not hold up well in a true prosecutorial case, especially as it does not particularly do anything than exclude certain groups of people, thus potentially narrowing the field of suspects who licked stamps and envelopes The fact is, there is no crime scene DNA known to be from Ripper, with which to compare her envelopes mtDNA.I agree that Ms Cornwell s high profile as a compelling crime fiction writer, generates a predisposition to believe her suppositions Her manner of proof, however, throughout her Portrait of a Killer pages, begs her reader to agree with her subjective assessment of the psychopathology of Sickert s art as evidence of being the most likely, and indeed unassailable perpetrator of the Ripper serial killings.I don t buy it It may be that she has a viable theory, but I am turned off completely by the shaky ground on which she builds her theory She expects us to stipulate so much guesswork, in order to substantiate her case, which, surely she has not substantiated, as there is very little substantive evidence in her guesses In her dedication, she arrogantly tells the Scotland Yard Detective, John Grieve, you would have caught him HIM, I assume, referring to Sickert, as is her premise Yet, try as I may, I cannot find any evidence that Det John Grieve concurs with her conclusions Does she, perhaps, toss his name about to lend credence to her ideas This book makes me wonder if she decided on a suspect, then focused purely on gathering all the little bits of evidence that could lend credence to her ideas, while eliminating from her work all the bits of evidence that disprove her theories.I do have to give Cornwell this credit though I had never bothered to look up any information on Jack the Ripper, prior to this book I knew he was a British serial killer, I had seen parts of From Hell, and other movies that fictionalize his crimes Yet I had, and admittedly still have, little a rudimentary knowledge of the case.My final opinion Buy the book second hand, and read it like fiction You may find it entertaining Then again, you may not Better yet, I ll lend you my copy It s only half used.


  2. says:

    Let me first say, I hate when an author prints his or her own name larger than the title on a book cover That was not the worst thing about this book I found Portrait of a Killer because it rates highly among other true crime books and I thought I was learning about actual events, until I was about a quarter of the way through and did some research of my own At that time I realized the only value of this book is a description of the life and times of a successful British artist who should probably be thankful he is being accused of being Jack the Ripper because his paintings are being discussed widely than they, otherwise, would have been This book should be advertised as a theory and should not say, case closed, on the cover also in smaller print than the author s name.


  3. says:

    Despite the rather presumptuous sub title of case closed , Cornwell doesn t prove her thesis In fact, this book is a text book for how NOT to write a book that solves a historical mystery.Problems1 Cornwall has never heard of footnotes.2 She does not fully explain why she chose to investigate Sickert It really does sound like she chose him for the killer because she liked the cop who thought he did it.3 When discussing how women were seen at the time, why is Cornwell citing a book written in the 1600s And only that book 4 No close ups of the paintings that show ripper themes which means I did not see what she was talking about.5 Having the lab you fund do tests to prove your thesis doesn t look good At least have an independent lab back up the findings.6 Any criminal, according to this book, is a psychopath.7 Presumes that the Ripper wrote all the Ripper letters.8 How does she know her Ripper letter is the real, deal If just saying it makes it so, than anyone want to buy the lost Manet masterwork of a woodpecker I own 9 Somehow I doubt that Cornwell is the only Ripper expert who worked hard, despite what she implies.10 Cornwell keeps saying she wouldn t do something, and then does it She says she won t psycho analyze, and then there she goes 11 How does she know about the penis of a dead and cremated man I really want to know the answer to that one.12 If he wasn t a good actor which is what Cornwell says , how could he be so good at disguises that no one recognized him until Cornwell did 13 She does not rebutt fully the claim that Sickert had an alibi.If you want to know how NOT to construct an argument, read this book Otherwise, skip it.


  4. says:

    I decided to read Patricia Cornwell s book Portrait of a Killer Jack the Ripper Case Closed because I have an interest in Walter Sickert I continued to read the book, despite the fact that it was by far the most absurd book I ve ever read, because I assumed at the turn of every page that it couldn t get any sillier At some point, I thought, Cornwell would have to present solid evidence that connected Walter Sickert to the Ripper murders After all, you can t go around accusing people of murder left, right and centre when you have no proof, can you Apparently, you can According to Ms Cornwell, she began to wonder about Walter Sickert being Jack the Ripper when she was flipping through a book of his art and came across his 1887 painting of Ada Lundberg performing at the Marylebone Music Hall When Cornwell looked at that painting, she didn t see a performer singing for an audience, she saw a woman screaming as menacing men looked on I am sure there are artistic explanations for all of Sickert s works, Cornwell writes, but what I see when I look at them is morbidity, violence, and a hatred of women Well, you can find all sorts of things in paintings, if you re determined to see them, and Ms Cornwell certainly was determined A good researcher examines the information available and uses it to form a theory Cornwell, on the other hand, proceeded from the firm conviction that Sickert was her man and set about constructing an argument that would produce her desired conclusion To be fair, Ms Cornwell is not the first person to construct a ridiculous theory regarding the true identity of Jack the Ripper that involves Walter Sickert It was in the 1970s that his name was first linked with that of the famous Whitechapel murderer, and I ll now attempt to give a brief synopsis of how that came about.In the late 1960s, a fellow by the name of Joseph Gorman turned up claiming to be Walter Sickert s illegitimate grandson He then amended his story and claimed that Sickert was not his grandfather, he was in actual fact his father his grandfather, he claimed at that point, was the eldest son of Edward VII, Prince Albert Victor Gorman adopted a new name, HRH Joseph Sickert, to go with his imaginatively fabricated identity He claimed that his grandmother, a shop girl by the name of Annie Crook, had married Prince Albert Victor in secret and had given birth to a daughter, Alice Joseph Sickert s mother Mary Jane Kelly, a friend of Crook s, knew about this marriage, as did several of her prostitute pals and was set to blackmail the British government To avert a scandal that might have brought down the British monarchy, the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, persuaded the Royal Physician, Sir William Gull, to go off on a murder spree with two fellow Freemasons and do away with the troublesome women Little Alice Crook, having been spirited away to France, later became Walter Sickert s mistress Walter Sickert knew the truth behind the Ripper murders, Joseph Sickert claimed, but had not been involved in them Joseph Sickert, who later claimed that he regularly had tea with the Queen, had a furtive imagination.Stephen Knight, author of Jack the Ripper The Final Solution published in 1978 went further and, based on Joseph Sickert s claims about the masonic Ripper plot, concluded that Walter Sickert must have been a co conspirator in it In the same year, Joseph Sickert, whilst maintaining that he was the illegitimate son of Walter Sickert and the grandson of Prince Albert Victor, told the Sunday Times that the story about the Ripper conspiracy had in fact been a hoax This didn t prevent Jean Overton Fuller from publishing a book in 1990 which claimed that Walter Sickert was the actual perpetrator of the crimes, rather than a co conspirator Nor did it prevent Melvyn Fairclough from regurgitating Joseph Sickert s masonic royal Ripper plot nonsense one year later.But let s be clear about this, during Sickert s lifetime he was never a suspect in the Ripper murders Were it not for HRH Joseph Sickert s absurd conspiracy claims, which he later admitted were a fabrication, nobody would ever have suggested Walter Sickert as a possible Ripper suspect.Anyway, getting back to Cornwell s theory though she considers it to be a matter of fact Having decided that the Ripper was a sexually dysfunctional psychopath with a severe hatred of women, Cornwell s mind was made up from the outset that Sickert was an impotent woman hater According to Cornwell, Sickert was dependent on women and loathed them But Sickert did not hate women at times he liked them rather too much He was never faithful to his first wife, Ellen Regarding Sickert s marriage to Ellen, Cornwell claims that it is possible the brotherly and sisterly couple never undressed in front of each other or attempted sex Based on what evidence Sickert was born, Cornwell asserts, with a deformity of his penis requiring operations when he was a toddler that would have left him disfigured if not mutilated She goes on to suggest that he may not have had much of a penis at all and it was quite possible that he had to squat like a woman to urinate Sickert did undergo an operation when he was an infant that much is true He was treated for an anal fistula at St Mark s Hospital Cornwell herself admits that Sickert s doctor s specialities were the treatment of rectal and venereal diseases, and that no search of his published writings or other literature unearthed any mention of his treating so called fistulas of the penis Nonetheless, she concludes that it was Sickert s penis that was the problem Why Because Jack the Ripper had to be impotent, so Sickert had to be impotent, and an anal fistula does not produce impotency If it looks like an apple and tastes like an apple, but Cornwell wants an orange it s an orange.I shall now provide you with a sampling of the nonsense that passes for evidence in the mind of Patricia Cornwell 1 Martha Tabran was seen with a soldier before her murder The murderer of Martha Tabran was therefore Walter Sickert dressed up as a soldier Walter Sickert was familiar with uniforms, Cornwell explains, and as a boy he frequently sketched men in uniforms and armor Heavens to Betsy, a male child who draws soldiers a sure sign of early onset homicidal psychopathy 2 Jack the Ripper liked to call people fools in his letters Walter Sickert called people fools 3 A witness saw a man with a black Gladstone bag after Elizabeth Stride was murdered Sickert had a Gladstone bag.4 During the Ripper murders, bloody knives started turning up all over the place A coconut dealer by the name of Thomas Coram was leaving a friend s house in Whitechapel when he noticed a knife at the bottom of steps leading into a laundry The knife was later described by a local constable as the sort a baker or chef might use Sickert was an excellent cook, Cornwell writes, and often dressed as a chef to entertain his friends.5 And this is my personal favourite One of the Ripper letters included the address Punch Judy St Cornwell points out Sickert would have been familiar with Punch and Judy.Cornwell, unlike most Ripperologists and the police who investigated the Ripper murders, believes that most of the Ripper letters sent to police and the local press from all over the place, with several posted on the same day from distant locations came from Jack the Ripper himself The letters are central to her claim that Sickert was the Ripper The fact that the handwriting of the numerous Ripper letters doesn t resemble Sickert s does nothing to deter Cornwell from asserting that he did write them the difference in handwriting simply proves that he was an incredibly devious little psychopath She points out that Sickert could even write backwards So could Leonardo da Vinci, but I don t think she s about to pin the murders on him though we shouldn t rule that out entirely For that matter, I can write backwards do I need an alibi As for the doodles on the Ripper letters, Cornwell claims that most, if not all, were penned by a skilled artist, namely Walter sickert Anna Gruetzner Robins, author of Walter Sickert Drawings, supports this claim, though she doesn t believe that Sickert was the actual Ripper Matthew Sturgiss, author of Walter Sickert A Life, remains unconvinced about the claims of Cornwell and Robins Sickert expert Wendy Baron has also dismissed the claims, having found nothing in the doodles to suggest that Sickert was the person responsible for them But even if it were proved that Sickert was responsible for some of the letters and that s a big if , it would simply show that he was a Ripper letter hoaxer That is a far cry from being a slayer of East End prostitutes.Several Ripper letters mentioned horse racing and gave the police betting tips Sickert painted pictures of horse racing , Cornwell points out, and was quite knowledgeable about the sport While I have no evidence that Sickert bet on horse races, she goes on, I don t have any fact to say he didn t According to Cornwell s logic, the absence of proof passes for proof in itself When trying to determine if the artist was in London at the time of a particular murder, she points out that she has no proof that he was not in London Well, there s no proof that I wasn t in Madagascar yesterday evening I guess I must have been there.In actual fact, Walter Sickert was abroad for most of the late summer of 1888, when Jack the Ripper was murdering prostitutes in London Two days before the murder of Annie Chapman, Sickert s mother wrote to a friend that she and her family including Walter were all having a happy time in France Whilst Cornwell does refer to Sickert s mother s letter, and to a letter written by Sickert s wife, Ellen, about him being in France with his people , which Cornwell incorrectly assumes are his arty friends in Dieppe rather than his family, she dismisses the importance of such evidence of his absence from London After all, even if he had been in France, he could have hopped on a steamer to scoot across the English Channel, then caught an express train to London in order to do away with an East End tart presumably because a French tart wouldn t do before dashing back to France in time for dinner without anyone noticing he d gone I imagine he managed to fit in posting several Ripper letters from Liverpool, London and Lille in northern France while he was at it.Having gone to great trouble to demonstrate that Sickert was a crazed killer who couldn t even holiday in France without rushing back to the East End to assassinate a prostitute, how does she explain the fact that the Ripper murders came to an abrupt end following the slaying of Mary Jane Kelly on 9th November 1888, even though Sickert lived for another fifty four years What did he do, take up fishing or stamp collecting to fill his time Well, apparently he didn t stop murdering people he went on going Sickert wasn t just Jack the Ripper, he was responsible for the Thames Torso Murders of 1887 89 too, and he committed the Camden Town Murder in 1907 He may even have murdered a widow named Madame Francois at Pont Mousson, in north eastern France, in 1889, and another French woman in the same area He was a busy fellow.Ms Cornwell provides no evidence that links Walter Sickert to the Whitechapel murders She seems to believe that by her simply asserting that he was guilty we ll all be daft enough to believe her In places, the book seems to be about her than Sickert or Jack the Ripper anyway About a quarter of the way through the book she writes I had been a police reporter for the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina and was no coward when it came to dashing off to crime scenes Then she tells us that she had a moment of enlightenment something I strongly doubt whilst in Aspen with her family, in a condo at the base of Ajax Mountain In what way are these details, or reminiscences of her days working in the medical examiner s office, relevant to the Whitechapel murders There s a lot that seems to be there just to fill the book out Chapter Thirteen gives a history of the British coroner from the reign of Richard I And what s the point of giving the reader an explanation of how the Ripper murders would have been investigated in present day Virginia Do I need to know that the US has never had a national standard of death investigation This may be the longest book review I will ever write But a short one just wouldn t have done justice to the astounding absurdity of this book.


  5. says:

    This was not what I expected I thought it would be a sort of historical re cap of the Jack the Ripper killings with Cornwell revealing the person that she thought to be the killer, with evidence to substantiate her opinion I did not expect to be lectured over and over and beaten over the head with her opinion on the identity of the killer From what I ve read, Cornwell went a little bonky in the head with trying to prove that her guy was the one, spending millions of dollars to acquire paintings and writings that belonged to him Although she may be 100% correct in her belief, it seems to be pointless after this many years Recommended for anyone that enjoys a good, repetitive lecture.


  6. says:

    What a phenomenal and utterly disturbing book I learned 1 The identity of Jack The Ripper, with 98% certainty, is the British artist Walter Sickert, proven by intense forensic analysis.2 He not only killed the prostitutes for which he is best known, but possibly 40 others, including children, men and non prostitute women, some of whom he hacked to pieces and possibly ate.3 1888 London was an absolute shithole and why anyone would have wanted to live in those conditions is beyond me.4 Scotland Yard completely botched the Ripper investigation and because of them Jack The Ripper continued killing for decades after they called off the dogs.5 Jack The Ripper was an even bigger sicko than I had ever imagined, and the root of his psychosis may have been related to the fact that, like many serial killers, he had a deformed penis and could not have sex 6 This book is not for the faint of heart and I almost threw up a few times while reading it Excellent research though Shame they didn t catch that pervert before he died in 1942.


  7. says:

    I have to say, I know I am in the minority when I say that I find this argument for artist Walter Sickert to be the Ripper rather convincing Not everyone is going to agree, and that s ok I feel that the truth behind the Ripper killings in 1888 London will remain a mystery for all time There just isn t enough data out there on the killings to point the finger at one particular person All that said, what makes this book so interesting is how Cornwell draws out the pathology of a sociopath Was Sickert the Ripper from what I see here, it s pretty evident that he was a profoundly disturbed person and bore a real hatred fear contempt of women If you can handle it, go on and read the book And then let me know what you think In any case, it s well written and very carefully thought out.For the complete review, please go here


  8. says:

    I started reading Patricia Cornwell s Portrait of a Killer Jack the Ripper, Case Closed while I was down in Florida, and finally finished it the day before yesterday I remember reading reviews of the book when it first came out a few years ago, and never picking the book up I found it by chance in the stacks at my godmother s house, and decided to give it a try.It s not that I m not interested in Jack the Ripper When I was in high school, I could be counted on to track down just about any book, movie or comic that was connected in any way to two subjects King Arthur and Dracula I remember WARP Graphix releasing the comics mini series Blood of the Innocent in which Dracula came to England on an advance fact finding mission several years before the events of the novel and encountered Jack the Ripper That led me for a while to read up on the Ripper novels where Sherlock Holmes meets him, and so on.The problem with this book is that although Cornwell claims that she has solved the case beyond a shadow of a doubt and that The Ripper was noted artist Walter Sickert, her evidence is no complete or compelling than say, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell s evidence that the Ripper was the royal physician Sir William Gull, or Hempel and Wheatley s evidence that the Ripper was Prince Edward The problem is Moore and Campbell s From Hell, on which the movie was based, and Hempel and Wheatley s Blood of the Innocent are admittedly fictional works, however well researched they may have been The authors admit they are putting words and thoughts into the mouths and minds of historical figures to suit their own theory Cornwell s book is meant to be non fiction and yet she assigns thoughts and feelings to Walter Sickert that she can only presume he had, since he never left a confession Yes, the circumstantial evidence is strong and in a modern court of law, that might even be enough to convict Sickert for the murders commonly credited to Jack the Ripper, if not the long list of Ripper like murders in years following that the police did not assign to the Ripper.I had to force myself to finish the book just to see if Cornwell would pull one fully damning piece of evidence out at the end But the book ends as it starts with the clear knowledge that this writer of popular crime fiction has let her quest for the Ripper s identity consumer her life professionally and personally, full in the knowledge that at least for the time being, her suspect is no or less plausible than so many of the others that have been fingered in fiction over the years.


  9. says:

    I read this during a time in my life when I wanted all mysteries solved Unfortunately, my needs weren t fulfilled with this book In fact, I think I had questions afterward than I did when I started.Am I satisfied that she may have, in fact, closed the case and the mystery of Jack the Ripper s elusive identity has finally been solved Sorry, no And I think that this is one mystery that I am content to leave just that.


  10. says:

    Patricia Cornwell has money than sense I can t believe that she spent a million dollars of her own money to research the true identity of Jack the Ripper..and, despite the title, she has come away with little to no proof she relies a great deal on mitochondrial DNA evidence that she admits is inconclusive, and paintings done by Sickert years after the fact Sickert seems to have been an ass, and perhaps he was the Ripper, but Cornwall has done nothing in this book that would allow her valid use of the subtitle Case Closed The only thing that keeps this book from one star are the great photographs included, especially those of the Ripper letters.


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Portrait of a Killer: Jack The Ripper - Case Closed download Portrait of a Killer: Jack The Ripper - Case Closed, read online Portrait of a Killer: Jack The Ripper - Case Closed, kindle ebook Portrait of a Killer: Jack The Ripper - Case Closed, Portrait of a Killer: Jack The Ripper - Case Closed 309f22db4beb Now Updated With New Material That Brings The Killer S Picture Into Clearer FocusIn The Fall Of , 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 KillerInPortrait 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 SickertIt 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 , At The Age Of , 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 CreatedNew Information And Startling Revelations Detailed In Portrait Of A Killer Include How A Year Long Battery Of Than DNA Tests On Samples Drawn By Cornwell S Forensics Team In September From Original Ripper Letters And Sickert Documents Yielded The First Shadows Of The To Year Old Genetic Evid