Customer Reviews for

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

This was a book I enjoyed immensely, I enjoyed reading the facts

This was a book I enjoyed immensely, I enjoyed reading the facts and the author's idea of what happened. I have enjoyed reading many of Ms. Cornwell,s books including this one, but I am still not convinced that Walter Sickert was the Ripper. He may have murdered women a...
This was a book I enjoyed immensely, I enjoyed reading the facts and the author's idea of what happened. I have enjoyed reading many of Ms. Cornwell,s books including this one, but I am still not convinced that Walter Sickert was the Ripper. He may have murdered women and children, but does that mean he was the Ripper, I don't think so.He may be crazy and strange but a serial killer then why was he not included in any other book I have read?

But that being said Ms.Cornwell has turned out another great storyline and wonderful characters.

posted by druidgirl on September 17, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Jack the Ripper: case still not solved

Although Patricia Cornwall did her homework and spent a lot of money and time into this investigation, I was not convinced that Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper. I think the evidence is there to support this claim, but the book is poorly organized and confusing. She j...
Although Patricia Cornwall did her homework and spent a lot of money and time into this investigation, I was not convinced that Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper. I think the evidence is there to support this claim, but the book is poorly organized and confusing. She jumped from topic to topic, went from one year to 20 years in the future and didn't adequately explain how Sickert could be Jack. I read this with great interest, but was annoyed by the lack of organization and the authorial intrusion. She should have just presented the facts and let the readers come to their own conclusions. I think she wanted Sickert to be the killer so strongly that she set about to prove that, not to find the truth. Cornwall repeatedly discusses what would have been done had the murders been committed in the present day. This commentary is not necessary. It is apparent that Jack would have been caught had the police of the 1880s had today's technology at their disposal. Chapter two, in which Cornwall despairs of writing this book, strikes me as very inappropriate and very false. If she did have these feelings, she should have put them into an author's note, not recreated a corny-sounding conversation with her agent. I also had a problem seeing the mysterious images in the Ennui painting. I found a large-sized copy of the painting and still didn't see the mysterious lurking man. The abrupt ending to the book took me by surprise. It as if she decided that was it, she wasn't writing it anymore. All in all, it is an unfocused and poorly organized book. It doesn't prove anything.

posted by Anonymous on June 3, 2004

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2004

    Jack the Ripper: case still not solved

    Although Patricia Cornwall did her homework and spent a lot of money and time into this investigation, I was not convinced that Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper. I think the evidence is there to support this claim, but the book is poorly organized and confusing. She jumped from topic to topic, went from one year to 20 years in the future and didn't adequately explain how Sickert could be Jack. I read this with great interest, but was annoyed by the lack of organization and the authorial intrusion. She should have just presented the facts and let the readers come to their own conclusions. I think she wanted Sickert to be the killer so strongly that she set about to prove that, not to find the truth. Cornwall repeatedly discusses what would have been done had the murders been committed in the present day. This commentary is not necessary. It is apparent that Jack would have been caught had the police of the 1880s had today's technology at their disposal. Chapter two, in which Cornwall despairs of writing this book, strikes me as very inappropriate and very false. If she did have these feelings, she should have put them into an author's note, not recreated a corny-sounding conversation with her agent. I also had a problem seeing the mysterious images in the Ennui painting. I found a large-sized copy of the painting and still didn't see the mysterious lurking man. The abrupt ending to the book took me by surprise. It as if she decided that was it, she wasn't writing it anymore. All in all, it is an unfocused and poorly organized book. It doesn't prove anything.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    Awful

    This book is a waste of money, written by an amateur. Why someone who writes mediocre crime novels thinks she can solve a 123 year old case with a flimsy theory that Ripper scholars have debunked is absurd. This book should be sold as fiction.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2012

    This was a book I enjoyed immensely, I enjoyed reading the facts

    This was a book I enjoyed immensely, I enjoyed reading the facts and the author's idea of what happened. I have enjoyed reading many of Ms. Cornwell,s books including this one, but I am still not convinced that Walter Sickert was the Ripper. He may have murdered women and children, but does that mean he was the Ripper, I don't think so.He may be crazy and strange but a serial killer then why was he not included in any other book I have read?

    But that being said Ms.Cornwell has turned out another great storyline and wonderful characters.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Makes a great case

    Cornwell's fingering of Walter Sickert as Jack the Ripper is detailed and damning. It won't convince Ripper hobbyists, but one wonders if knowing the answer wouldn't spoil their fun.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2011

    Convincing

    I'm not as deeply immersed in "Ripperology" as many are, but I have a pretty extensive library on the subject, and knowledge about the evidence for and against just about every suspect. While Ms. Cornwell is not the first to propose Walter Sickert, she makes a chillingly convincing case. Her application of 21st century forensic methods, particularly profiling concepts, provides a new perspective on an intensely explored subject.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    What a laugh

    Pity it didn't come with a satisfaction/money back guarantee. The most tenuous connection I have ever read and an absolute embarrassment for an author that prides herself on her professional credentials in the field.
    The pictures were pretty.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Lost Criminal

    Jack the Ripper is a classic crime story of a man who terrorized females on the streets of London. In this book the author, Patricia Cornwell, unravels the mystery of Jack the Ripper to be Walter Sickert an artist from the 1800s. This book is filled with thrill and excitement that keeps the reader at the edge of his seat and thats what makes it awsome. I like the feeling of exitement in a book with a great message. I think that the message of this book is to keep your gaurd up because you never know who's out there in the shadow of the night. I don't recommend this book to younger people due to its explicit sexual content which is probably the worst part about this book, but overall this book would be a great subject of descussion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2007

    full of assumptions

    i read the book, i read it again and still find it very unconvincing. she might have described the cases well, (and they do not differ from the other books i have read on the same subject) but the book never failed to impress upon me that it was more from the author's opinons/suppositions/conclusions than what the evidence really states and there really isn't much evidence to begin with. Sickert died and there are no traces of his DNA even from the supposed licked stamp. All 'evidence' presented in this book are all so far-fetched. As if collecting bits and pieces of clothing to sew a quilt. This is the first book I have read written by this author and to be honest I find it hard to pick up, even try to read sample chapters of other books she has written. True she may have spent lots of time and money in writing the book but does that make all conclusions she has drawn correct?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2005

    Full of Baloney

    If I could give this a black hole instead of one star, I would.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2004

    badly written

    this book was very compelling but cornwell did a horrible job of organizing the book. i thought that she made a good case against sickert but i think that she should have lined up all of the evidence agains sickert and other ripper suspects to let us decide who the killer was instead of focusing only on sickert. while the book made him sound like the killer, it was too confusing and winding. she often went on tangents about the minds of seriel killers or subjects related to the killings but not to the mystery of who is jack the ripper. she spend way way too much time on different subjects. i didn't even finish the book because she layed out her case and then tried to prove it within a few chapters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2004

    Very Bad Non-Fiction, OK as Fiction

    I agree with the other reviews: Patricia Cornwell's implication of Walter Sickert as the infamous 'Jack the Ripper' is completely unproven in this work. Ms Cornwell really overdoes it when, in the second chapter, she relates how distressed she was during her investigation into Walter Sickert as 'Jack the Ripper'. It really shows her own oversized ego more than anything. She offers NO conclusive evidence whatsoever as to Sickerts alleged part in the Whitechapel murders. She even ignors her own evidence: In the first chapters she gives Sickerts reason for the killings as his being sexually mutilated; first by conjenital defect, then later by three surguries allegedly to correct said defect. Then in later chapters she reveals that Sickert's first wife divorced him for 'adultry.' I do know that Sickert was widely believed to have fathered several illegitimate children in his life. She does however paint a pretty good picture as to the conditions of life in the East end of Victorian era London and the plight of its residents. Although methinks we can't rely on this picture inasmuch as we also can't rely on her evidence as to the identity of the worlds most notorious murderer. Patricia Cornwell should stick to the fiction that she is apparently known for and leave criminal investigation to those better suited. Don't waste good money on this book. There are far better books on this subject. If you must read it get it from the library. You might find it in the 'fiction' section!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2004

    Long-winded and circumstantial

    Coming in at about three times the length it deserves, thanks to an enormous amount of general filler information and excessively (and totally unnecessarily) gorey details on the condition of the corpses, supplemented by absolutely unfounded and wild speculation (which almost always ends with a phrase like, 'well, that's speculation on my part.'). The author bases conclusions on presumptions that have been drawn from pure speculation. The book fails to conclusively prove anything, it fails to present any substantively new evidence on the case. It does, however, prove that you can read a large number of primary sources without having any ultimate purpose and without being able to demonstrate anything worthwhile.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2003

    MAJOR Disappointment...waste of money

    I have read EVER book written by Cornwell, she is my favorite author...unltil THIS. Patricia? What's the deal? I forced myself (out of respect for this author) to read more than half the book. I was SURE she would pull it together but she didn't. Appears she is going the way of other contemporary 'greats', John Grisham to name one that started out strong, ran out of steam (?) and started writing just to get published. Unfortunately, riding on her past achievements and successes. This was nothing more than re-telling the same tired old 'tales' that have been printed before in fact, she admits it. Where's the NEW evidence? Where are the 'facts' that have never been figgured out before? ...They are not there. Throughout the book, I kept looking forward to her usual brilliance but all she did was regurgitate the same old tired details again and again as if that will make them 'facts'. I really hate to see her lower herself to this level. What was it...deadline had to be met? There was nothing new that she brought to the book and again, she repeated over and again the same sensational facts about the fact the victims were prositutes, their body parts, the gross nature of their injuries, etc. It was a bore...no fact...no conclusion. Worst of all, now I hear she's going on the Princess Diana trip (Oh, puleeze! More sensationalism???)) this is one reader that won't buy into that one. This book sounded more like easvesdropping on her therapy session than reading a 'Cornwell' book. Take a vacation, Pat. Your loyal fans deserve more than this drivel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2003

    MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT

    A long time Cornwall fan I looked forward to her anaylsis of the Jack Ripper case. However I was very disappointed. The work was circuitious, confusing and illogically laid out. Unfortunately she jumped from topic to topic forcing me at times to go back and re-read a section to see if I missed anything. Her background comments on the social mores and extreme poverty were enlightening. I wish she had complied the material in a more logical manner since it was obvious she worked long and hard on the research. I would have preferred it written in the format usually followed by true crime writers like Ann Rule. A major disappointment

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2003

    Garbage!!

    This book is pure fiction. Cornwell manipulates the facts of the case to fit her misguided theory. She should be ashamed of herself for muddling history like this. For a factual and thorough examination of the case, read The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip Sugden.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2003

    Portrait of a True Disappointment: Patricia Cornwell

    How an author can write something based strictly on circumstantial, inconclusive evidence and get it published is beyond me. Although the killer may very well have been Walter Sickert, there isn't enough evidence to hold up even in a courtroom of today's prestige. This book is based on thoery, allegation, and coincidence...little fact and too much time-consuming research by Cornwell.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2003

    I am not convinced

    I read tne book to the very end and I understood all her allegations and assumptions. I am not convinced. If her purpose was to point root out the real Jack the Ripper,the allegations presented would not get past a grand jury. I was disappointed with the ending, what happened to Walter Sickert?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2014

    Patricia Cornwell lists and explains the evidence available to h

    Patricia Cornwell lists and explains the evidence available to her and explain who she thinks is Jack the Ripper.

    A factual and crisp narrative outline the author's hypothesized conclusion. While readers may or may not agree, it is still interesting to see one possibility.

    Overall, an interesting read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2014

    Very entertaining book. I'd be willing to bet that most of these

    Very entertaining book. I'd be willing to bet that most of these "reviews" are from the same author. He or she may even be the author of one of the many tomes on this case. Perhaps even....Philip Sugden? Phil....are you posting here? Until the Ripper case is solved beyond all doubt, all books on the subject are just speculation. I realize that many juvenile Ripper "fanboys" have their ideas as to his identity, but the case is still unsolved. I have yet to be convinced by any book on the subject, but they all present some interesting theories. The speculation continues...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2013

    I agree with most posters on here. Patricia Cornwell is certainl

    I agree with most posters on here. Patricia Cornwell is certainly not the expert on the subject matter and takes a lot liberties in drawing conclusions. If Walter Sickert was still a living man, I would probably find it more offensive than I do. Mostly it was a book I enjoyed reading as a fiction story. I had a limited background in my knowledge of Jack the Ripper and while I would not now say I know the facts any better the outline of the story is more complete.

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