Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper -- Case Closed

by Patricia Cornwell

Penguin Publishing Group | October 28, 2003 | Trade Paperback

Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper -- Case Closed is rated 3.4286 out of 5 by 14.

Now updated with new material that brings the killer''s picture into clearer focus.

In the fall of 1888, all of London was held in the grip of unspeakable terror.  An elusive madman calling himself Jack the Ripper was brutally butchering women in the slums of London’s East End.  Police seemed powerless to stop the killer, who delighted in taunting them and whose crimes were clearly escalating in violence from victim to victim.  And then the Ripper’s violent spree seemingly ended as abruptly as it had begun.  He had struck out of nowhere and then vanished from the scene.  Decades passed, then fifty years, then a hundred, and the Ripper’s bloody sexual crimes became anemic and impotent fodder for puzzles, mystery weekends, crime conventions, and so-called “Ripper Walks” that end with pints of ale in the pubs of Whitechapel.  But to number-one New York Times bestselling novelist Patricia Cornwell, the Ripper murders are not cute little mysteries to be transformed into parlor games or movies but rather a series of terrible crimes that no one should get away with, even after death.  Now Cornwell applies her trademark skills for meticulous research and scientific expertise to dig deeper into the Ripper case than any detective before her—and reveal the true identity of this fabled Victorian killer.

In Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed, Cornwell combines the rigorous discipline of twenty-first century police investigation with forensic techniques undreamed of during the late Victorian era to solve one of the most infamous and difficult serial murder cases in history.  Drawing on unparalleled access to original Ripper evidence, documents, and records, as well as archival, academic, and law-enforcement resources, FBI profilers, and top forensic scientists, Cornwell reveals that Jack the Ripper was none other than a respected painter of his day, an artist now collected by some of the world’s finest museums: Walter Richard Sickert.

It has been said of Cornwell that no one depicts the human capability for evil better than she.   Adding layer after layer of circumstantial evidence to the physical evidence discovered by modern forensic science and expert minds, Cornwell shows that Sickert, who died peacefully in his bed in 1942, at the age of 81, was not only one of Great Britain’s greatest painters but also a serial killer, a damaged diabolical man driven by megalomania and hate.  She exposes Sickert as the author of the infamous Ripper letters that were written to the Metropolitan Police and the press.  Her detailed analysis of his paintings shows that his art continually depicted his horrific mutilation of his victims, and her examination of this man’s birth defects, the consequent genital surgical interventions, and their effects on his upbringing present a casebook example of how a psychopathic killer is created.

New information and startling revelations detailed in Portrait of a Killer include:

- How a year-long battery of more than 100 DNA tests—on samples drawn by Cornwell’s forensics team in September 2001 from original Ripper letters and Sickert documents—yielded the first shadows of the 75- to 114 year-old genetic evid...

Format: Trade Paperback

Published: October 28, 2003

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0425192733

ISBN - 13: 9780425192733

Found in: History

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not sure I'm convinced, but I'm not sure I'm convinced that artist Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper, but after having read the book, I can see where it could be possible. There was a ton of info in the book, not just about Sickert and the Ripper, but about life during the time period, and about the victims (and more possible victims who were not necessarily attributed to Jack the Ripper).
Date published: 2010-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Chilling, and thought provoking, but... I am torn nearly in two over Patricia Cornwell's Jack the Ripper - Case Closed. On one side, I enjoyed the reading immensely, and even found myself scared of being awake late into the night while I was reading. The book awoke enough paranoia in me to send me around the house before bed, peeking in the dark corners, opening closets and locking all the doors, something I rarely do. Moreover, parts of Cornwell's argument that the Ripper was, in fact, the famous artist Walter Richard Sickert are incredibly compelling. So much so that my gut says he was the murderer. On the other side, I was increasingly frustrated by what felt like Cornwell's methods of obfuscation (writing about details that have nothing to do, in any way, with Sickert's being the Ripper), her heavy handed morality, and her assertion, in spite of implications she herself made, that Sickert was absolutely evil (if, for instance, she is correct that his penile fistula led to torturous surgery, deformation and a life of sexual impotence, then surely some of the anger and resentment that led him to kill deserves at least a modicum of sympathy, and suggests that he was not purely evil, but a wounded and sick man who committed heinous crimes but needed help). Moreover, despite the gut feeling she evoked in me that Sickert was the Ripper, I have to admit that I could not sit on a jury and convict him on the evidence she presents; it is circumstantially probable, but there is more than enough "reasonable doubt" to force me to vote for acquittal and possibly hang a jury. If nothing else, though, Cornwell has rekindled my interest in Jack the Ripper, an interest my mother first awakened in me while I was in elementary school, and I will likely continue reading other people's theories whenever I feel the need for a good scare. It has also awakened me to the work of Walter Sickert, and since I live close to the largest collection of his work, I will soon be going for an afternoon in a museum, soaking in the artistry while looking for clues.
Date published: 2008-08-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring As as Kay Scarpetta fan, this book disappointed me, and failed to keep my interest. I make it a rule to finish any book I start, thinking it builds character. I was so pleased when I realized that I accidently left this one at a conference hotel, 3/4 finished.
Date published: 2008-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating This book kept me reading all the way through. Yes, it is but one person's hypothesis based on her research, so do not expect it to persuade you to believe Jack the Ripper is found. The case is closed because there's not much more you can get out of it based on terrible police work in 1888. Cornwell comes to interesting conclusions and produces evidence along with it. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoy's true crime.
Date published: 2008-03-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Case far from closed Had the title been different you would approach the book from an entirely different perspective but I'm sure it would not have sold as many copies as a Jack the Ripper book marked "Case Closed" undoubtly did. While it does have some redeeming qualities, it fails to convince the reader that Sickert really was the Ripper. It's a theory and remains just that in the book as Ms Cornwell fails to provide compelling (or any for that matter) evidence that Sickert did the deeds, let alone that only Sickert could have done the Ripper's crimes. It is a disappointment mainly because the reader will expect undisputable proof that Sickert was the Ripper when approaching a book with a title that says case closed.
Date published: 2007-09-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from True Fiction! Ms. Cornwell has obviously convinced herself who the murderer is, but unfortunately can't seem to find the right words to convince anyone else. The book has some great writings in to the world of 19th century England, but the places, times, and occurances for Walter Sickert to be the Ripper are all very circustantial and quite "conventient" for Ms. Cornwell's theory. Her research in to the victims was very well done, much better than some other Ripper books I've read. She doesn't seem to put any real meat on the table to point the finger at Sickert, she just does, and hey, it's her book so if you don't agree, too bad she has your money now! Horrible writting style as well, all over the place wihtout any real fluidity which I would expect from a so-called reknowned writer. She should have named her book "Another feeble attempt to point a finger at someone who might have been Jack the Ripper".
Date published: 2006-08-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Sick the Ripper I believe Cornwell to be very bold in her attempt to raise from the dead Sickert's past horrible childhood experience to suit the "I do know who The Ripper is" MO. The Ripper Letters are not that of a madman to her, but porposely done to baffel the officers at the time. The book itself with Victorian imagery is bright for a history student but the point of the book is indeed Jack the Ripper and not a biography on Walter Sickert. In short, according to Cornwell, "Jack the Ripper is Walter Sickert because Walter Sickert is Jack the Ripper"
Date published: 2006-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought - provocking Here is a study that not only takes the view of Jack the Ripper , but also the views and background of all his known victims and those investigating the crimes. Cromwell paints a clear picture of everyday life in London in 1888 and the poverty that is so often skipped over in the history books. She gives the reader a thorough explanation of all her research and forensic tools, making a very good case for who the Ripper really was.
Date published: 2006-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Its a must read I think Ms. Cornwell did a wonderful job writing this book. She made a very good case against Walter Richard Sickert. Wether your opinion is guily or not guily, Ms. Cornwell brings you up close and personal with the victums (SP?), suspects, and the murder himself. I think for anyone who has liked past Cornwell material this book will not disapoint.
Date published: 2005-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's a must!!! I think that Patricia Cornwell did a great job in writing a book that would contain and explain all the information she found during her investigation of Jack the Ripper. I think the mitochondrial DNA results are extremely incriminating for R.W. Sickert!!! Yes, there is a lot of speculation, but I believe that it is based on what she read and discoverd about Sickert. I also loved how she described what it was like living in England back in those days.
Date published: 2004-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible detail: An amazing portrait of this time period! Painstakingly researched and dramatically detailed. Not hard to get through, as each detail is well executed not to bore the reader. You won't regret getting this book. I couldn't put it down. It is graphic in places, but not embelished. For anyone who loves history, it is a must for your personal library!
Date published: 2004-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Done I have read many of Cornwell books including her Scarpetta novels, and there all very well done. She is very convincing that Walter Richard Sickert is Jack the ripper. I think the evidence she has collected could hold up in any court today and convince the jury. Good job Cornwell!!
Date published: 2004-03-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Book Closed - Case Not This is a horrible 'mishmash' of a work, done up in an amateurish tabloid style. Ms. Cornwell seems to believe that authoring a true crime novel requires no more care than fiction. Her suggestion that her work was an investigation is laughable. Granted the task was formidable. The Whitechapel murders occurred in 1888, and no person was ever charged. The reason being, that the Police did not have sufficient evidence. While Ms. Cornwell may have conviced herself that Walter Sickert was the murderer, I did not find her argument persuasive in the slightest. Interesting coincidences, speculations, and theories were plentiful, which only served to highlight the glaring absence of real evidence. This book should have been published as fiction.
Date published: 2003-12-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Solid argument Patricia Cornwell's Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed is a good book for those who are interested in the murders. She does a good job presenting her argument and convincing the reader that she is right. Most of her evidence is solid but there are somethings that are shaky. It basically comes down to how many coincidences are coincidence. She has convinced me that she has found the killer. Too bad it will never be absolutely proven.
Date published: 2002-12-13

– More About This Product –

Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper -- Case Closed

by Patricia Cornwell

Format: Trade Paperback

Published: October 28, 2003

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0425192733

ISBN - 13: 9780425192733

Read from the Book

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 m
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Table of Contents

Chapter One: MR. NOBODY 1

Chapter Two: THE TOUR 8

Chapter Three: THE UNFORTUNATES 16

Chapter Four: BY SOME PERSON UNKNOWN 31

Chapter Five: A GLORIOUS BOY 41

Chapter Six: WALTER AND THE BOYS 59

Chapter Seven: THE GENTLEMAN SLUMMER 74

Chapter Eight: A BIT OF BROKEN LOOKING GLASS 86

Chapter Nine: THE DARK LANTERN 98

Chapter Ten: MEDICINE OF THE COURTS 107

Chapter Eleven: SUMMER NIGHT 120

Chapter Twelve: THE YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL 130

Chapter Thirteen: HUE AND CRY 141

C O N T E N T S

Chapter Fourteen: CROCHET WORK AND FLOWERS 154

Chapter Fifteen: A PAINTED LETTER 175

Chapter Sixteen: STYGIAN BLACKNESS 193

Chapter Seventeen: THE STREETS UNTIL DAWN 205

Chapter Eighteen: A SHINY BLACK BAG 219

Chapter Nineteen: THESE CHARACTERS ABOUT 229

Chapter Twenty: BEYOND IDENTITY 241

Chapter Twenty-One: A GREAT JOKE 253

Chapter Twenty-Two: BARREN FIELDS AND SLAG-HEAPS 262

Chapter Twenty-Three: THE GUEST BOOK 277

Chapter Twenty-Four: IN A HORSE-BIN 289

Chapter Twenty-Five: THREE KEYS 300

Chapter Twenty-Six: THE DAUGHTERS OF COBDEN 316

Chapter Twenty-Seven: THE DARKEST NIGHT IN THE DAY 331

Chapter Twenty-Eight: FURTHER FROM THE GRAVE 352

BIBLIOGRAPHY 365

INDEX 377

From the Publisher

Now updated with new material that brings the killer''s picture into clearer focus.

In the fall of 1888, all of London was held in the grip of unspeakable terror.  An elusive madman calling himself Jack the Ripper was brutally butchering women in the slums of London’s East End.  Police seemed powerless to stop the killer, who delighted in taunting them and whose crimes were clearly escalating in violence from victim to victim.  And then the Ripper’s violent spree seemingly ended as abruptly as it had begun.  He had struck out of nowhere and then vanished from the scene.  Decades passed, then fifty years, then a hundred, and the Ripper’s bloody sexual crimes became anemic and impotent fodder for puzzles, mystery weekends, crime conventions, and so-called “Ripper Walks” that end with pints of ale in the pubs of Whitechapel.  But to number-one New York Times bestselling novelist Patricia Cornwell, the Ripper murders are not cute little mysteries to be transformed into parlor games or movies but rather a series of terrible crimes that no one should get away with, even after death.  Now Cornwell applies her trademark skills for meticulous research and scientific expertise to dig deeper into the Ripper case than any detective before her—and reveal the true identity of this fabled Victorian killer.

In Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed, Cornwell combines the rigorous discipline of twenty-first century police investigation with forensic techniques undreamed of during the late Victorian era to solve one of the most infamous and difficult serial murder cases in history.  Drawing on unparalleled access to original Ripper evidence, documents, and records, as well as archival, academic, and law-enforcement resources, FBI profilers, and top forensic scientists, Cornwell reveals that Jack the Ripper was none other than a respected painter of his day, an artist now collected by some of the world’s finest museums: Walter Richard Sickert.

It has been said of Cornwell that no one depicts the human capability for evil better than she.   Adding layer after layer of circumstantial evidence to the physical evidence discovered by modern forensic science and expert minds, Cornwell shows that Sickert, who died peacefully in his bed in 1942, at the age of 81, was not only one of Great Britain’s greatest painters but also a serial killer, a damaged diabolical man driven by megalomania and hate.  She exposes Sickert as the author of the infamous Ripper letters that were written to the Metropolitan Police and the press.  Her detailed analysis of his paintings shows that his art continually depicted his horrific mutilation of his victims, and her examination of this man’s birth defects, the consequent genital surgical interventions, and their effects on his upbringing present a casebook example of how a psychopathic killer is created.

New information and startling revelations detailed in Portrait of a Killer include:

- How a year-long battery of more than 100 DNA tests—on samples drawn by Cornwell’s forensics team in September 2001 from original Ripper letters and Sickert documents—yielded the first shadows of the 75- to 114 year-old genetic evid...

About the Author

Patricia Cornwell is an award-winning novelist whose books have consistently appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Cornwell was born in Florida in 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. Cornwell was a police reporter for The Charlotte Observer and worked in the chief medical examiner's office in Richmond, Virginia, for six years as a computer analyst. She also volunteered to ride with the police during homicide investigations. 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 it became the only novel ever to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards, and the French Prix du Roman d'Adventure, in one year. She is also the only woman in the United States to receive England's most prestigious crime-writing award, the Gold Dagger. Cornwell's novels are both national and international bestsellers. They have been translated into several foreign languages. Some of her novels are Body of Evidence, All That Remains, Cruel & Unusual, The Body Farm, From Potter's Field, Unnatural Exposure, Hornet's Nest, and A Time for Remembering, a biography of Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of Billy Graham.

Editorial Reviews

"A PRODIGIOUS PIECE OF WORK... a fine true-crime thriller."