Cover image for Portrait of a killer Jack the Ripper--case closed
Title:
Portrait of a killer Jack the Ripper--case closed
Author:
Cornwell, Patricia Daniels.
Personal Author:
Edition:
Abridged.
Publication Information:
New York : Putnam Berkley Audio, [2002]

℗2002
Physical Description:
5 audio discs (approximately 6 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Summary:
Cornwell turns her trademark skills for meticulous research and scientific expertise on the case of serial murder in the history of crime-the slayings of Jack the Ripper that terrorized 1880s London. She digs deeper into the case and reveals the true identity of this elusive madman.
General Note:
Compact disc.
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780399149603
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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HV6535.G43 L6532 2002 Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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HV6535.G43 L6532 2002 Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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HV6535.G43 L6532 2002 Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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HV6535.G43 L6532 2002 Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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HV6535.G43 L6532 2002 Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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HV6535.G43 L6532 2002 Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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Summary

Summary

America's top crime writer solves the infamous case that has baffled experts for more than a century. Abridged, five CDs, 6 hours


Author Notes

Patricia Cornwell was born in Miami, Florida on June 9, 1956. When she was nine years old, her mother tried to give her and her two brothers to evangelist Billy Graham and his wife to care for. For a while the children lived with missionaries since their mother was unable to care for them.

After graduating from Davidson College in 1979, she worked for The Charlotte Observer eventually covering the police beat and winning an investigative reporting award from the North Carolina Press Association for a series of articles on prostitution and crime in downtown Charlotte. Her award-winning biography of Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of Billy Graham, A Time for Remembering, was published in 1983. From 1984 to 1990, she worked as a technical writer and a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. While working for the medical examiner, she began to write novels. Although the award-winning novel Postmortem was initially rejected by seven different publishers, once it was published in 1990 it became the only novel ever to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d'Adventure, in one year.

She is the author of the Kay Scarpetta series, the Andy Brazil series, and the Winston Garano series. She has also written two cookbooks entitled Scarpetta's Winter Table and Food to Die For; a children's book entitled Life's Little Fable; and non-fiction works like Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This is one of the most talked about books of the current publishing season; if you have not heard about it yet, you have not been keeping up with book news! Cornwell, author of the popular Kay Scarpetta mystery series, turns her hand here to nonfiction to explore a subject that recently has thoroughly riveted her attention: none other than the ultimate in unsolved serial murder cases, that of Jack the Ripper. Readers will remember that the Ripper plunged London's East End into abject terror for a few months in 1888, during which time he brutally murdered several prostitutes. Cornwell applied modern investigative and forensic techniques to answer the question of the Ripper's identity, hardly leaving a single stone unturned in gathering evidence, which she presents in this absolutely absorbing book. Who was Jack the Ripper, then? Cornwell points her finger at Impressionist painter Walter Richard Sickert, and her indictment rests on, among other things, DNA testing and matching watermarks on envelopes. She adeptly sets the whole horrifying story within the tenor of life in Victorian England, and the result is a well-constructed, endlessly fascinating account that is sure not only to arouse debate but also to generate considerable demand in the library. --Brad Hooper


Publisher's Weekly Review

Jack the Ripper was renowned artist Walter Sickert (1860-1942) according to Cornwell, in case anyone hasn't yet heard. The evidence Cornwell accumulates toward that conclusion in this brilliant, personal, gripping book is very strong, and will persuade many. In May 2001, Cornwell took a tour of Scotland Yard that interested her in the Ripper case, and in Sickert as a suspect. A look at Sickert's "violent" paintings sealed her interest, and she became determined to apply, for the first time ever, modern investigatory and forensic techniques to the crimes that horrified London more than 100 years ago. The book's narrative is complex, as Cornwell details her emotional involvement in the case; re-creates life in Victorian times, particularly in the late 1880s, and especially the cruel existence of the London poor; offers expertly observed scenarios of how, based on the evidence, the killings occurred and the subsequent investigations were conducted; explains what was found by the team of experts she hired; and gives a psycho-biography of Sickert. The book is filled with newsworthy revelations, including the successful use of DNA analysis to establish a link between an envelope mailed by the Ripper and two envelopes used by Sickert. There are also powerful comparisons made between Sickert's drawing style and that of the Ripper; between words and turns of phrases used by both men; and much other circumstantial evidence. Also newsworthy is Cornwell's conclusion that Sickert continued to kill long after the Ripper supposedly lay down his blade, reaping dozens of victims over his long life. Compassionate, intense, superbly argued, fluidly written and impossible to put down, this is the finest and most important true-crime book to date of the 21st century. Main selection of the BOMC, Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club. (Nov. 11) Forecast: With the Cornwell name plus lots of publicity-including first serial to Vanity Fair-this should achieve numbers nearly as big as the author's #1 bestselling novels. The book is filled with numerous sepia-toned photos, including several horribly gruesome shots of the Ripper's victims that may turn off some browsers, but most who can get past these will be hooked. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Can truth be stranger than Cornwell's fiction? Here, the best-selling novelist claims to uncover the identity of Jack the Ripper. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Monday, August 6, 1888, was a bank holiday in London. The city was a carnival of wondrous things to do for as little as pennies if one could spare a few. The bells of Windsor's Parish Church and St. George's Chapel rang throughout the day. Ships were dressed in flags, and royal salutes boomed from cannons to celebrate the Duke of Edinburgh's forty-fourth birthday. The Crystal Palace offered a dazzling spectrum of special programs: organ recitals, military band concerts, a "monster display of fireworks," a grand fairy ballet, ventriloquists, and "world famous minstrel performances." Madame Tussaud's featured a special wax model of Frederick II lying in state and, of course, the ever-popular Chamber of Horrors. Other delicious horrors awaited those who could afford theater tickets and were in the mood for a morality play or just a good old-fashioned fright. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was playing to sold-out houses. The famous American actor Richard Mansfield was brilliant as Jekyll and Hyde __ C H A P T E R O N E M R . N O B O D Y at Henry Irving's Lyceum, and the Opera Comique had its version, too, although poorly reviewed and in the midst of a scandal because the theater had adapted Robert Louis Stevenson's novel without permission. On this bank holiday there were horse and cattle shows; special "cheap rates" on trains; and the bazaars in Covent Garden overflowing with Sheffield plates, gold, jewelry, used military uniforms. If one wanted to pretend to be a soldier on this relaxed but rowdy day, he could do so with little expense and no questions asked. Or one could impersonate a copper by renting an authentic Metropolitan Police uniform from Angel's Theatrical Costumes in Camden Town, scarcely a two-mile stroll from where the handsome Walter Richard Sickert lived. Twenty-eight-year-old Sickert had given up his obscure acting career for the higher calling of art. He was a painter, an etcher, a student of James McNeill Whistler, and a disciple of Edgar Degas. Young Sickert was himself a work of art: slender, with a strong upper body from swimming, a perfectly angled nose and jaw, thick wavy blond hair, and blue eyes that were as inscrutable and penetrating as his secret thoughts and piercing mind. One might almost have called him pretty, except for his mouth, which could narrow into a hard, cruel line. His precise height is unknown, but a friend of his described him as a little above average. Photographs and several items of clothing donated to the Tate Gallery Archive in the 1980s suggest he was probably five foot eight or nine. Sickert was fluent in German, English, French, and Italian. He knew Latin well enough to teach it to friends, and he was well acquainted with Danish and Greek and possibly knew a smattering of Spanish and Portuguese. He was said to read the classics in their original languages, but he didn't always finish a book once he started it. It wasn't uncommon to find dozens of novels strewn about, opened to the last page that had snagged his interest. Mostly, Sickert was addicted to newspapers, tabloids, and journals. Until his death in 1942, his studios and studies looked like a recycling center for just about every bit of newsprint to roll off the European P A T R I C I A C O R N W E L L [ 2 ] presses. One might ask how any hard-working person could find time to go through four, five, six, ten newspapers a day, but Sickert had a method. He didn't bother with what didn't interest him, whether it was politics, economics, world affairs, wars, or people. Nothing mattered to Sickert unless it somehow affected Sickert. He usually preferred to read about the latest entertainment to come to town, to scrutinize art critiques, to turn quickly to any story about crime, and to search for his own name if there was any reason it might be in print on a given day. He was fond of letters to the editor, especially ones he wrote and signed with a pseudonym. Sickert relished knowing what other people were doing, especially in the privacy of their own notalways- so-tidy Victorian lives. "Write, write, write!" he would beg his friends. "Tell me in detail all sorts of things, things that have amused you and how and when and where, and all sorts of gossip about every one." Sickert despised the upper class, but he was a star stalker. He somehow managed to hobnob with the major celebrities of the day: Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, Aubrey Beardsley, Henry James, Max Beerbohm, Oscar Wilde, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Rodin, André Gide, Édouard Dujardin, Proust, Members of Parliament. But he did not necessarily know many of them, and no one--famous or otherwise--ever really knew him. Not even his first wife, Ellen, who would turn forty in less than two weeks. Sickert may not have given much thought to his wife's birthday on this bank holiday, but it was extremely unlikely he had forgotten it. He was much admired for his amazing memory. Throughout his life he would amuse dinner guests by performing long passages of musicals and plays, dressed for the parts, his recitations flawless. Sickert would not have forgotten that Ellen's birthday was August 18th and a very easy occasion to ruin. Maybe he would "forget." Maybe he would vanish into one of his secret rented hovels that he called studios. Maybe he would take Ellen to a romantic café in Soho and leave her alone at the table while he dashed off to a music hall and then stayed out the rest of the night. Ellen loved Sickert all her sad life, despite his cold heart, his patho- P O R T R A I T O F A K I L L E R [ 3 ] logical lying, his self-centeredness, and his habit of disappearing for days--even weeks--without warning or explanation. Walter Sickert was an actor by nature more than by virtue of employment. He lived on the center stage of his secret, fantasy-driven life and was just as comfortable moving about unnoticed in the deep shadows of isolated streets as he was in the midst of throbbing crowds. He had a great range of voice and was a master of greasepaint and wardrobe. So gifted at disguise was he that as a boy he often went about unrecognized by his neighbors and family. Throughout his long and celebrated life, he was notorious for constantly changing his appearance with a variety of beards and mustaches, for his bizarre dress that in some cases constituted costumes, for his hairstyles-- including shaving his head. He was, wrote French artist and friend Jacques-Emile Blanche, a "Proteus." Sickert's "genius for camouflage in dress, in the fashion of wearing his hair, and in his manner of speaking rival Fregoli's," Blanche recalled. In a portrait Wilson Steer painted of Sickert in 1890, Sickert sports a phony-looking mustache that resembles a squirrel's tail pasted above his mouth. He also had a penchant for changing his name. His acting career, paintings, etchings, drawings, and prolific letters to colleagues, friends, and newspapers reveal many personas: Mr. Nemo (Latin for "Mr. Nobody"), An Enthusiast, A Whistlerite, Your Art Critic, An Outsider, Walter Sickert, Sickert, Walter R. Sickert, Richard Sickert, W. R. Sickert, W.S., R.S., S., Dick, W. St., Rd. Sickert LL.D., R.St. A.R.A., and RDSt A.R.A. Sickert did not write his memoirs, keep a diary or calendar, or date most of his letters or works of art, so it is difficult to know where he was or what he was doing on or during any given day, week, month, or even year. I could find no record of his whereabouts or activities on August 6, 1888, but there is no reason to suspect he was not in London. Based on notes he scribbled on music-hall sketches, he was in London just two days earlier, on August 4th. P A T R I C I A C O R N W E L L [ 4 ] Whistler would be getting married in London five days later, on August 11th. Although Sickert hadn't been invited to the small, intimate wedding, he wasn't the sort to miss it--even if he had to spy on it. The great painter James McNeill Whistler had fallen deeply in love with the "remarkably pretty" Beatrice Godwin, who was to occupy the most prominent position in his life and entirely change the course of it. Likewise, Whistler occupied one of the most prominent positions in Sickert's life and had entirely changed the course of it. "Nice boy, Walter," Whistler used to say in the early 1880s when he was still fond of the aspiring and extraordinarily gifted young man. By the time of Whistler's engagement their friendship had cooled, but Sickert could not have been prepared for what must have seemed a shockingly unexpected and complete abandonment by the Master he idolized, envied, and hated. Whistler and his new bride planned to honeymoon and travel the rest of the year in France, where they hoped to reside permanently. The anticipated connubial bliss of the flamboyant artistic genius and egocentric James McNeill Whistler must have been disconcerting to his former errand boy--apprentice. One of Sickert's many roles was the irresistible womanizer, but offstage he was nothing of the sort. Sickert was dependent on women and loathed them. They were intellectually inferior and useless except as caretakers or objects to manipulate, especially for art or money. Women were a dangerous reminder of an infuriating and humiliating secret that Sickert carried not only to the grave but beyond it, because cremated bodies reveal no tales of the flesh, even if they are exhumed. Sickert was born with a deformity of his penis requiring surgeries when he was a toddler that would have left him disfigured if not mutilated. He probably was incapable of an erection. He may not have had enough of a penis left for penetration, and it is quite possible he had to squat like a woman to urinate. "My theory of the crimes is that the criminal has been badly disfigured," says an October 4, 1888, letter filed with the Whitechapel Murders papers at the Corporation of London Records Office, "--possibly P O R T R A I T O F A K I L L E R [ 5 ] had his privy member destroyed--& he is now revenging himself on the sex by these atrocities." The letter is written in purple pencil and enigmatically signed "Scotus," which could be the Latin for Scotsman. "Scotch" can mean a shallow incision or to cut. Scotus could also be a strange and erudite reference to Johannes Scotus Eriugena, a ninthcentury theologian and teacher of grammar and dialectics. For Walter Sickert to imagine Whistler in love and enjoying a sexual relationship with a woman might well have been the catalyst that made Sickert one of the most dangerous and confounding killers of all time. He began to act out what he had scripted most of his life, not only in thought but in boyhood sketches that depicted women being abducted, tied up, and stabbed. The psychology of a violent, remorseless murderer is not defined by connecting dots. There are no facile explanations or infallible sequences of cause and effect. But the compass of human nature can point a certain way, and Sickert's feelings could only have been inflamed by Whistler's marrying the widow of architect and archaeologist Edward Godwin, the man who had lived with actress Ellen Terry and fathered her children. The sensuously beautiful Ellen Terry was one of the most famous actresses of the Victorian era, and Sickert was fixated on her. As a teenager, he had stalked her and her acting partner, Henry Irving. Now Whistler had links to not one but both objects of Sickert's obsessions, and these three stars in Sickert's universe formed a constellation that did not include him. The stars cared nothing about him. He was truly Mr. Nemo. But in the late summer of 1888 he gave himself a new stage name that during his life would never be linked to him, a name that soon enough would be far better known than those of Whistler, Irving, and Terry. The actualization of Jack the Ripper's violent fantasies began on the carefree bank holiday of August 6, 1888, when he slipped out of the wings to make his debut in a series of ghastly performances that were destined to become the most celebrated so-called murder mystery in history. P A T R I C I A C O R N W E L L [ 6 ] It is widely and incorrectly believed that his violent spree ended as abruptly as it began, that he struck out of nowhere and then vanished from the scene. Decades passed, then fifty years, then a hundred, and his bloody sexual crimes have become anemic and impotent. They are puzzles, mystery weekends, games, and "Ripper Walks" that end with pints in the Ten Bells pub. Saucy Jack, as the Ripper sometimes called himself, has starred in moody movies featuring famous actors and special effects and spates of what the Ripper said he craved: blood, blood, blood. His butcheries no longer inspire fright, rage, or even pity as his victims moulder quietly, some of them in unmarked graves. P O R T R A I T O F A K I L L E R [ 7 ] Excerpted from Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.