This memoir was recently discovered and appears to have been written in the 1920s by someone who asserts that he was Jack the Ripper. This person is James Willoughby Carnac, and this memoir was written shortly before his death. It is an account of his entire life, including a few short months in 1888 when he became the murderer known to posterity as Jack the Ripper.
This book introduces a new suspect for the infamous murders in Whitechapel in 1888. There is information here that does not appear to be derived from contemporary newspapers or any other publications, and the descriptions of Tottenham in the 1870s, the visits to performances of Jekyll and Hyde, and the intricate geography of Whitechapel in 1888 are written with pin-point accuracy.
There is also a credible motive given for James becoming the murderer Jack, and also a reason for the end of the murders. Given the fact that the author also appeared to have knowledge about aspects of the case not in the public arena at the time, it could be that this actually is the autobiography of Jack the Ripper. Ultimately, it is up to the listeners to decide if they believe the mystery has been solved at last, but even if they end up deciding the account to be a work of fiction, it would still be one of the very earliest imaginings of the Ripper case, written in the early years of the 20th century, a fascinating piece of period writing and a worthy addition to the Ripper canon. Whatever side listeners come down on, there is no question that this book will be a source of much debate.
©2012 Random House AudioGo (P)2012 Random House AudioGo
I loved this book. The narration is wonderful with Christian Rodska perfect as Carnac. He nails every barbed comment and sly remark without ever falling into cartoon villainy. The story itself is obviously dark but never focuses on the gruesome acts in detail.
Whether Carnac was actually Jack The Ripper is highly debatable and I treated this as a work of fiction going in but I have to say there are a few details that get you wondering if it might not be real. Even the things he gets wrong are wrong in the 'right' way, giving it a feeling of misremembered authenticity rather than the more predictable shopping list of facts that would be added by a knowing trickster.
The Third Act is strange - with various elements clumsily telegraphed in the writing for a set up later that seems at odds with the style of the rest of the book. Acclaimed Ripperoligist Paul Begg details all of this brilliantly in his summation at the end.
Whether real or fake, or part real/part fake it's fascinating and unusual. Highly recommended for anyone with even a slight interest in these crimes and the era in which they were committed.
"A bit weak!"
It seems like they're scraping around for contents with this book. The story is a little thin on the ground.
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