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I have read all of Patricia Corwells novels from an early age so I was fascinated when I picked up this one in a book shop a few years ago, not having heard anything about it in advance it was a shocking relevation to read the back cover. Here the author declared that they could reveal the identity of Jack the Ripper was Walter Sickert and artist who lived in the last century. Frankly I could not believe the allegations made from the beginning. The introduction seemed like a vindicative exercise in character assassination. Walter Sickert was identified as a sick young boy who had his testcicles removed at an early age and so became a social outcast hell bent on revenge for the rest of his life. Cornwell builds up a picture of London in the last century (sorry the century before) in the same way other Jack the Ripper historians describe the situation. Prostitution and poverty were rampant, there were more than one ripper cases, other cases did not attract as much publicity, there were also later ripper cases involving young boys. In fact Ripper cases seemed to be a common fad in Victorian London in the same way that Joy Riding or Happy Slapping has afflicted other generations. Cornwell analyses each murder building up an identity fit for Sickert in the case of each murder, describing in detail how he lived,the people he knew and associated with, how he got there, where he was and what he was doing in varying degrees over a half dozen murders. To be honest in from my own point of view this became very wearisome after a while. As we drift from one horrific death to another the background of each unfortunate victim is explained. There are also pictures of some of the victims,one of a hacked body. The case against Sickert is re-enforced with forensic analyses. This is mainly in the form of the Jack the Ripper lettters of which there are hundreds. Cornewell uses these as evidence to prove Sickert was the ripper, backed up with evidence of the location they were posted from which included a hotel in Cornwall he stayed in and a house in France he lived in. DNA samples are also obtained from the letters although no conclusive proof is offered to show it was Sickerts. I could not take this book very seriously. The scenes are too invented. I do not believe it is a valid piece of research scientificaly although the historical aspects are well depicted. Also as the novel progressed it seemed to open up the possible suspects in to much more than what one person could have achieved, let alone Sickert on his own, for instance the French connection of letters osted from France and the house in France he lived in. It seems the more she tried to prove it was Sickert who did it the more windows of opportunity opened that other members of his class were involved for instance the numerous wives he had. The description of Sickerts life is too broad to capture the Ripper. I would say a more detailed analyses of the crime scenes is required to crack this one which unfortunately are not available. I would not bother to buy this one for the bookshelf, get a library copy if you can and take it with a pinch of salt.