Brian L Porter is back once again with another fictional work featuring Jack the Ripper. The book can be ordered here, http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=1-55404-758-7&picsize=SMALL&x=167&y=80
The synopsis reads,
Criminal psychologist David Hemswell receives a desperate call from a worried man. William Forbes, former solicitor to serial killer Jack Reid believes himself to be threatened by the living soul of the notorious Victorian enigma, Jack the Ripper. Convinced that Reid was a descendant of the Ripper and that the evil that first entered the current era through the inheritance of the Ripper’s journal by psychiatrist Robert Cavendish, Forbes turns to Hemswell as his last hope to free himself from the demons he believes are pursuing him. Forbes travels to Skerries Rock, David Hemswell’s private island home off the bleak, barren west coast of Cape Wrath, Scotland, where Hemswell soon realises that there is much about his visitor that is disquieting and frightening. Hemswell summons help in the form of paranormal investigator Kate Goddard, and together, the pair attempt to free Forbes of whatever strange phenomenon has assaulted his mind. As their investigation gathers pace, however, they soon begin to believe that the three of them are not alone on the tiny island. Has the soul of Jack the Ripper found a way to encroach upon the present day? Is William Forbes the living embodiment of The Ripper, or is he too a victim of the curse that appears to have been handed down across time by the unfortunate Cavendish family? As time begins to run out, and the danger surrounding them grows ever stronger by the second, David Hemswell must face his own demons and is faced with the most terrible decision of his life, as the story that began with A Study in Red - The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper and continued in Legacy of the Ripper reaches its shattering and terrifying conclusion!
I look forward to obtaining a copy to read and review. Both A Study in Red- The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper and it’s sequel The Legacy of the Ripper are doing well and are to be made into feature films.
I was excited when I heard that Liverpool based author Tom Slemen was to write a book on Jack the Ripper, more so when it was announced he had discovered a new suspect, and was to explore this man’s candidacy.
I had collected several of Slemen’s earlier works on the Haunted Liverpool series, and had discovered that he had taken Robert D’Onston Stephenson’s work, Dead or Alive, from the Review of Reviews 1892 (New Year’s Extra Number), and relocated it from Hull to Liverpool. This blatant rip off had made me question his other work, which in turn led me to Christopher George’s excellent “Yo Liverpool” forums. For this work, Slemen would be teaming up with Keith Andrews, who is described as a Merseyside Criminologist.
The book release had been announced some time ago, and when it was revealed that it would be released this year I could not wait, but getting hold of a copy was just the first battle. The publisher did not have the facility to sell me a copy, my usual avenue of Amazon was also foiled, when it was revealed that they had no copies to sell, so instead I searched the official website of the book, and again, there was no facility in place to purchase a copy. Fortunately I had heard that Waterstones had a few copies up North, and they could send me one direct if I paid online. I did this, and used my credit up from my Waterstones card, which has been gathering dust for some time.
The book arrived the next day, and I wasted no time in digging into the story. The basic idea is that Jack the Ripper was an invention by the British Secret Service, who had hired a trained assassin, in the form of Claude Reignier Condor, to carry out the deeds in Whitechapel.
The book starts off with an introduction by Richard Whittington Egan before Slemen and Andrews tackle the myth and culture behind Jack the Ripper, cramming in films, tv shows, plays and books, and taking time to point of their factual errors. Despite the wealth of material on Jack the Ripper, this chapter takes up just six and half pages, but covers enough ground to have one biting at the bit ready for more.
Like all Ripper Suspect books, the scene is set throughout the next eight chapters, with each victim getting a chapter each, a chapter devoted to the Lusk Kidney, and a chapter devoted to the country’s obsession with the murders, and what was being done to stop them.
Among these chapters is a rather interesting chapter on a victim that the authors claim is new in the world of Ripperology, one who has never been associated with the crimes before, but when we get to the actual victim, it is one that has been covered on numerous occasions by Debs, Chris Scott, and several other Torso Researchers. The new victim relates to the torso discovered at the building site of the New Scotland Yard. The chapter is 22 pages long, yet only four of these pages discuss the torso, and why it is considered a part of the Ripper’s reign of terror, which we will get to shortly.
Instead of discussing, dissecting, and researching this find more, the authors choose to spend the chapter discussing the eyewitness testimonies of Lawende, Levy and Harris, a subject which should have been included in the previous chapter on Eddowes, but for some reason is included in this chapter!
The victims chapters are well presented, and popular opinion is explored with arguments presented against various eyewitness testimonies and popular misconceptions, but with no footnotes, or references, the chapters read like a story rather than an historical retelling of an horrendous crime.
The authors claim that Eddowes face is inscribed with glyphs from the Moabite language, but sadly the duo do no5t explain why these glyphs are relevant, but do include a table with the glyphs listed, and their meaning. Two of them signify a “G” and one of them signifies a “Z”! Despite these observations, the rest of the mutilations on Eddowes face are ignored, because they mean nothing in the Moabite language!
Sadly, most of the descriptions of the events surrounding the deaths of the canonical victims feature just too much conjecture, with un-sourced descriptions such as “She could have..” “She may well have…” “It’s quite possible that..” and not enough primary sources or evidence to back up the claims. Rather than present these statements as opinion, they are presented as fact, and further muddy the waters.
The duo then curiously misquote a statement made by Joseph Barnett made at the Inquest of Mary Kelly. Barnett told the coroner that he had seen the body of his common law wife and he identified her ‘by the ear and eyes’. The writers claim that Kelly was identified by Barnett by “Ears and Eyes” adding that this is odd as her ears had been removed. Only pages later they include the post mortem report by Dr. Bond, which states, The nose, cheeks, eyebrows & ears being partly removed.
The key word here being “partly”.
Odder still is the fact that a painting of Mary Kelly is presented as being “Mary Kelly’s Deathbed” but rather then informing the reader it is a painting, we are left thinking it’s a piece if evidence from the time of the murders.
The chapter on Kelly continues with a photo of Kelly’s right leg, allegedly showing a bit of string on her calf. It is alleged that this is string, and not a cut, because there is no evidence of blood, it isn’t mentioned in the post mortem report, and the calf seems to be pulled up as if a piece of string is evident. I had always assumed this was a stocking, as I find it odd that a piece of string would not be mentioned on the reports, when minor details like small cuts and nicks to the flesh would be included. The duo, however , use this as proof of a conspiracy, claiming that it links Mary Kelly, and the other Ripper murders, to the torso found at the buildings of New Scotland Yard!
I find this odd, as Charles Warren, and Robert Anderson are also included in this conspiracy, but if this was truly the case, wouldn’t dumping a body in the place of your employers work be like dealing drugs to a drug enforcement officer! It just doesn’t make sense.
Other odd statements work their way in to the book, such as the assumption that Sir Robert Anderson visited Paris because a Fenian double agent by the name of Frances Millen was also in Paris at the time! No evidence is presented to show the duo met, we are just expected to believe this and accept it.
It is then claimed that “Juwe” is a Manchu word meaning two, which is all very well, but the statement left on the wall of the Wentworth-street Dwellings makes no sense with this work changed either!
The evidence linking Claude Reignier Condor to the murders is laughable. It is claimed that the victims were subdued by the killer putting pressure on pressure points throughout their bodies, only a trained killer would know this, and it is assumed that Claude Reignier Condor was that man. Sadly, the duo can only claim that “Maybe Condor trained in martial arts”It is then claimed that Mary Kelly was a Fenian sleeper spy, sent from Ireland to the UK with a false life story and made to await further orders. There is of course no evidence for this assumption, just snippets taken from eyewitness testimony, that is unreliable at the best of times.
The book comes in at 381 pages, features an introduction, chapter listing, and index, but is sadly lacking a bibliography, list of sources, acknowledgements, and references. An afterword is included and looks at the possibility that hidden material yet to be released could confirm the story!
Publisher: Bluecoat Press