Jack the Ripper in Fact & Fiction – Robin Odell

This is the apparently updated and revised version of a book originally published in the 1960’s.

The book itself doesn’t seem to have been significantly updated. The book leans towards the C5 plus Tabram. The text in many ways is of its time, as the text hasn’t been updated to amend certain factual errors. For example, Odell sticks with the story of Strides having children and these died with her husband in the process alice disaster. In discussing MJK Odell also references bits of skin being hung on the walls of millers court by nails.
However the tone of the book is rather different contrasted to a lot of other, older JtR books. Odell comes across as having greater empathy with the victims throughout.
The book follows a fairly standard format. Setting of the LVP. The canonical murders. References to press speculation, a discussion of the ripper letters, and subsequent murders. There is then a dissection of the theories put forward by the time of writing (ie Dr Stanley, Jill the Ripper, and Pedachenko. I have to say that Odells handling of Pedachenko is extremely polite in contrast to popular opinion of this theory now!

I found the most interesting sections to be the final 5-6 chapters, where Odell reviews the case, identifies what facts as there are available, and then discusses common theories, prior to presenting his Sochet theory. Unusually in many ripper books, this section of the book is extremely balanced and nuanced. Odell critiques theories, without vitriol. As a result, the discussion is engaging.

His sochet theory is pure speculation, and for my money he doesn’t address his key principle of motive throughout. Neither does he adequately explain why the killings ceased, though does offer valid possibilities. At best, Odell could potentially argue he has come up with 1 potential type of person who could have committed the killings. At best, it’s half a possible profile, but based on rather weak foundations.

There is some considerable information in a new introduction provided, which is a very reflective essay, and references developments in research that had occurred up to 2011. This essay could in my opinion have split into 2 parts, with a lot of it being included after the rest of the main text. That said, Odell speaks very highly of much research done since his book was originally published.

In contrast to most books written pre 1970, this book is head and shoulders above the vast majority, and minor corrections aside, stands well today to be fair to it.