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november 2021

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  • november 2021

    Jack and the Thames Torso Murders - Drew Gray & Andrew Wise

    This is quite an interesting book. Basic premise, is that 2 serial killers in london at the same time is too far fetched, so the authors present an argument that the whitechapel killings, and the torso murders are by the same hand.
    The reader is introduced to late victorian london, and examples of the life and business of the horse slaughter trade are much of the readers early guides. The authors fairly chronologically outline each of the torso findings, and interlink these with more than just the canonical five, and there is good reason to their argument - SK's generally develop their process, they don't arrive fully formed. There is slightly less good reason to their including a significant number of other cases, many purely based on location/proximity to a slaughter yard.
    Whilst I was previously relatively unfamiliar with the torso findings, this book gives a stimulating and insightful outline of the findings and subsequent investigations. I hadn't realised how much was and isn't known, and the book certainly whets the appetite to find out more. I do have sympathies with the proposal that 2 separate SK's could be working independently in such close proximity, and feel the idea does need more research.
    So the book is, on tis issue, successful in stimulating an interest in further reading/research on this matter.
    On the crimes generally attributed to (or closely linked to) JtR, this reader felt that the book lacked a certain level of detail, and warranted much further exploration and examination. This may be because the book is aimed more towards those with an existing understanding of the case. But in explaining some of the basic facts the reader isn't referred elsewhere, and to develop the argument the authors are making, surely this would have been warranted?
    The authors present a suspect, and a trade. In some ways, the theory is a variation on the sochet perp, first expounded by Robin Odell. Gray & Wise present James Hardiman, and for part of the book present various aspects of circumstantial evidence suggesting him as JtR, and as being responsible for the Torso cries, and ohter murders too. What isn't clear, (to me at least) is how Hardiman first came to the attention of the authors, and what possible evidence they suggest makes him a likely candidate, other than he lived locally, and his occupation?

    2 things grated with me with this book. One, was a pretty regular use of "we will explain this in more detail later...". This happened so often, I lost track of how much was supposed to be expanded upon later. As you progress through the book you also become aware of how little space remains, and this kind of diminished an expectation by myself that everything promised would be covered/explained. The other thing that slightly grated, was the book begins, in the main almost as a bit of an apologia for previous ripperology. Now, oddly, the book also contains a postscript addressing exactly this issue, and I can't help but feel that the text would have been better managed by instead referring the reader to the postscript, instead of, on occasion, being a bit sack cloth and ashes in the early stages.

    reading this back, it sounds a little harsh. I really enjoyed reading this book, and there are some exceptionally good images and photo's included, and it is a really well written and accessible book. It gives you food for thought, but sometimes it's merely a snack, and I can't help but feel that the authors could have quite easily developed this into a magnum opus, with a lot more detail in it, being 2 or 3 times the size (easily!) And in my opinion the postscript was a really well thought out piece of writing.