The Big Book of Jack the Ripper

The Big Book of Jack the Ripper

The Big Book of Jack the Ripper

The Big Book of Jack the Ripper


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Edgar Award–winning editor Otto Penzler's latest anthology takes its inspiration from the historical enigma whose name has become synonymous with fear: Jack the Ripper.
Of the real-life serial killers whose gruesome acts have been splashed across headlines, none has reached the mythical status of Jack the Ripper. In the Ripper's wake, terror swept through the streets of London’s East End in the fall of 1888. As quickly as his nightmarish reign came, Saucy Jack vanished without a trace—leaving future generations to speculate upon his identity and whereabouts. He was diabolical in a way never seen before—a killer who taunted the police, came up with his own legendary monikers, and, ultimately, got away with his heinous crimes.

More than a century later, the man “from hell” continues to live on in the imaginations of readers everywhere—and in some of the most spec­tacularly unnerving stories, both fiction and nonfiction, ever written. The Big Book of Jack the Ripper immerses you in the utterly chilling world of Red Jack’s London, where his unprecedented evil still lurks.
· Legendary stories by Marie Belloc Lowndes, Robert Bloch, and Ellery Queen
· Captivating essays from George Bernard Shaw, Stephen Hunter, and Peter Underwood
· Riveting new stories by contemporary masters Jeffrey Deaver, Loren D. Estleman, Lyndsay Faye, and many more
· Astonishing theories from the world’s foremost Ripperologists
From the Ripper Vault:
· Demonic letters from Jack himself
· Gruesome postmortem exams documenting all the bits and pieces of the cases
· Harrowing witness statements taken on those hellish nights
· Breaking newspaper accounts of the East End hysteria

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101971130
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Pages: 864
Sales rank: 395,816
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

OTTO PENZLER is the editor of fourteen Vintage Crime/Black Lizard anthologies, including The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories, The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries, and, most recently, The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories. He lives in New York City, where he is the proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop.

Read an Excerpt

While the world has had no shortage of murderers, with Cain wasting no time in getting humanity started on its bloodstained path, none has imposed himself on the public consciousness as indelibly as Jack the Ripper. Most experts, known in this very specific area of scholarship as Ripperologists, believe that the fiend committed his atrocities during a relatively short period of time in 1888, yet his sobriquet still resonates throughout the world today.
It is reasonable to ask why this remains true after more than a century and a quarter. Certainly, there have been countless other killers whose names have screamed at us in headlines over the years, holding our attention for a while before fading and, mostly, disappearing.
We may remember Adam Lanza now, for having committed the incomprehensible slaughter of twenty children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, but only devoted scholars of crime will recall Andrew Kehoe, who murdered thirty-eight children and five adults when he blew up a school in Michigan in 1927.
American gangsters such as Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Whitey Bulger, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, and John Gotti are legendary figures in America but are virtually unknown in the rest of the world. The same is largely true for the icons of the old Western frontier, where Jesse James, Billy the Kid, the Younger brothers, and Doc Holliday became the subject of purple prose newspaper accounts that captivated East Coast readers, leading to dime novels and motion picture portrayals that reimagined vicious thugs as semi-heroic characters. None of these villains sends a chill down the spine, as popular media have sanitized their reputations and deeds.
Equally uninspiring of horror in the present time are British killers such as Fred and Rose West, who are known to have tortured and murdered at least eleven women and girls until they were brought to trial in 1994, their exploits garishly recounted in the news media. Also the merest footnote to the history of serial killers is Dr. Harold Shipman, reputedly the murderer of approximately two hundred and fifty people, mostly his patients, whose wills he forged so that he could inherit their valuables. Some may recall the newspapers’ colorful title of the Moors Murderers, but few remember the real names of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, described at her trial as the Most Evil Woman in Britain. Other names that became famous at one time, mainly because they became the subjects of books or movies, are Burke and Hare, gravediggers who were paid for corpses for medical examination and soon found it easier to kill people than dig them up; Constance Kent, who murdered a child when she was sixteen, a case so notorious in its time (1860) that elements were used by Wilkie Collins in The Moonstone, by Charles Dickens in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and in numerous other novels; Peter William Sutcliffe, better known as the Yorkshire Ripper, convicted of murdering thirteen women; and Madeleine Smith, whose trial for poisoning her lover allowed her freedom when the jury returned a verdict of “not proven.” She was sensationalized in Wilkie Collins’s The Law and the Lady and in the 1950 David Lean film Madeleine.
Better known in the United States, often because journalists bestowed colorful names on them, are such infamous serial killers as The Hillside Stranglers, Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono; the Son of Sam, David Berkowitz; the Co-ed Killer, Edmund Kemper; the BTK (Bind, Torture, and Kill) Killer, Dennis Rader; the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez; the Milwaukee Cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer; the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway; John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy, prolific murderers who somehow eluded colorful titles; and Charles Manson, probably the most fearsome American psychopath of the twentieth century, his crimes splashed along headlines for years, partially because of the unspeakable brutality of the crimes and partially because of the fame and beauty of one of the victims, Sharon Tate.
There is a seemingly limitless number of people who have committed untold numbers of hei-nous acts throughout the long history of Homo sapiens, a species almost unique in its ability to kill within the species for the sheer pleasure of it. With so many others having murdered in even greater numbers than Jack the Ripper, and some equally brutal (or worse, engaging in unspeak-ably depraved torture of living victims, a practice almost entirely eschewed by Saucy Jack), why does he continue to maintain his place at the top of the public’s radar?
While students of criminology are not unanimous in attributing the number of the Ripper’s victims, with five apparently accepted universally, but one, two, three, or four others also credited to him by various scholars, it is generally agreed that all the murders occurred during the autumn of 1888 (again, with outliers claiming at least an additional year at either end). The victims were all prostitutes in London’s East End, a ghetto teeming with the poorest segment of the population. The dark, narrow alleyways, often ending in cul-de-sacs, were perfect venues in which to commit an act of violence—or a transaction of a sexual nature, performed by a member of the largest profession of the neighborhood. The noxious fumes of coal stoves and fireplaces, as well as the factories located in the area, combined to provide an almost permanently darkened sky, a smog known as London particular. The women of the night, prowling the streets, looking for partners to pay them enough for a glass of warming gin, were perfect victims, willing—no, eager—to slip off to a darkened corner to quickly ply their trade. Although police patrolled regularly throughout the night, it was seldom the cream of the force, and the odds of them catching a criminal in the act, with visibility frequently limited to two or three feet, were slim.
Since so few cared about the victims of the Ripper’s carnage while they were alive, why has their fate continued to resonate today? A likely reason is that he was never caught. Having spread a tsunami of terror for a short time, he disappeared completely, leaving his identity to be theorized, discussed, argued, and written about for decade after decade. It did not hurt his legacy of notoriety that he frequently taunted the police, with the complicity of the local press, by sending letters warning them of forthcoming attacks and daring them to catch him if they can.
The frisson of terror evoked by his name, Jack the Ripper—so much more chilling than merely Jack the Killer or Jack the Stabber—stays in the memory, and on the tongue, so easily. He was written about in such extreme terms, first of course in newspapers, but then in magazine articles and books, that he provided endless fodder for those who became intrigued by him. Theories about his identity were rampant, with clues clutched to advance one theory, while other possible pieces of evidence were ignored if they suggested that someone else was the genuine article. Other Ripperologists rushed to discredit the first theory and advance their own, which suffered the same fate at the hands of still other students of the crimes. Jack the Ripper has now been “proven” to be any one of at least a half-dozen people by various authors and scholars.
This collection has articles describing the area of the atrocities, accounts of the murders, and theories about the identity of Red Jack by some of the world’s leading experts on the subject.
There also are contemporary reports from newspapers of the day. Taken together, they will provide a reasonably clear picture of the real-life events that inspired so much fiction about the incidents and the demented individual at the heart of them. For the most comprehensive guide to all the facts, if you are interested to read in far greater detail than offered here, I recommend The Complete Jack the Ripper by Donald Rumbelow.
The fiction contained in this tome has a wide range. While planned as a volume of crime stories, the almost mythical level at which Jack has been perceived has compelled me to include some of the memorable tales that present him as ageless as his reputation. Many theories about why Jack quit so abruptly have suggested he moved to a different country, or to a different time. It was impossible to resist these stories by several masters of the form.
Finally, proving yet again that Jack the Ripper is as timeless as fear, there are new stories, written especially for this volume by some of today’s most distinguished authors—Jeffery Deaver, Loren D. Estleman, Lyndsay Faye, Stephen Hunter, Anne Perry, and Daniel Stashower—and I am grateful to them all for adding to the literature about one of the most singularly vile creatures ever to degrade the planet.
Prepare to be unnerved.
—Otto Penzler

Table of Contents

Introduction by Otto Penzler


Victims in the Night
David Abrahamsen

The Jack the Ripper Murders

Key Texts
Witness Statements
Autopsy Reports
The “Ripper Letters”
Maxim Jakubowski and Nathan Braund, eds.

London’s Ghastly Mystery

The East End Murders: Detailed Lessons

Blood Money to Whitechapel
George Bernard Shaw

Who Was Jack the Ripper?
Peter Underwood  

Mystery Solved!

“Frenchy”—Ameer Ben Ali
Edwin M. Borchard

Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick
Stephen Hunter

Copy Murders and Others
Robin Odell


In the Fourth Ward
Theodora Benson

Anne Perry

Spring-Fingered Jack
Susan Casper

The Uncertain Heiress
Isak Dinesen

Tim Sullivan

A Kind of Madness
Anthony Boucher

The Sparrow and the Lark
Lyndsay Faye

The Decorator
Boris Akunin

Guardian Angel
Gwendolyn Frame  

In the Slaughteryard

The Lodger (short story)
Marie Belloc Lowndes

The Lodger (novel)
Marie Belloc Lowndes

The Sins of the Fathers
Scott Baker

Don’t Fear the Ripper
Holly West

The Mysterious Card Unveiled
Cleveland Moffett

Jack Be Quick
Barbara Paul

A Matter of Blood
Jeffery Deaver

A Study in Terror
Ellery Queen


G.I. Jack
Loren D. Estleman

The Legacy
R. L. Stevens

Jack’s Little Friend
Ramsey Campbell

The Stripper
H. H. Holmes

The Ripper Experience
Daniel Stashower

The Treasure of Jack the Ripper
Edward D. Hoch

The Hands of Mr. Ottermole
Thomas Burke


Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper
Robert Bloch

A Toy for Juliette
Robert Bloch

The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World
Harlan Ellison

Gentleman of the Shade
Harry Turtledove

The Adventure of the Grinder’s Whistle
Howard Waldrop

Ray Russell

The Demon Spell
Hume Nisbet

My Shadow is the Fog
Charles L. Grant

By Flower and Dean Street
Patrice Chaplin

The Final Stone
William F. Nolan  

The Gatecrasher
R. Chetwynd-Hayes

A Punishment to Fit the Crimes
Richard A. Gordon

From Hell Again
Gregory Frost

An Awareness of Angels
Karl Edward Wagner

A Most Unusual Murder
Robert Bloch

Jack the Ripper in Hell
Stephen Hunter

Customer Reviews