Jack the Ripper CSI: Whitechapel, by Paul Begg and John Bennett

Review published on December 31, 2012. Reviewed by Sara Garland

Nudge Reviewer Rating:

Jack the Ripper has managed to sustain a level of intrigue and fascination that just doesn’t abate. This latest book attempts to undertake a forensic investigative approach more in line with modern practices to uncover as many of the facts as possible.

Written by John Bennett and Paul Begg, both are both highly respected for their countless articles and books on Jack the Ripper and the East End of London. Bennett has also acted as advisor to documentaries made by various television channels and was the co-writer for the Channel 5 programme Jack the Ripper.

The book attempts to recreate and reconstruct scenes with as much accuracy as possible. Although it is well over a hundred years since these gruesome and horrific crimes were committed, the commissioned team undertake a thorough research of texts by experts as well as using modern technology and forensic investigational techniques.

After introducing as much as is known about the London in 1888, and depicting what living in the East End was like, the book breaks down each crime which took place in as much detail as can be deduced. Interesting facts which reflect how some of the victims lived as closely as next door neighbours to each other are uncovered and considered; this perhaps not so surprising when you consider the poverty and profession of the victims. There are plenty of pictures and text boxes covering side issues. The pictures include both those from the time of the murders and the streets now in modern times.

The bespoke maps and illustrations of the crime scenes give a great visual dimensional view which is novel and brings the landscape of the times to life. The overviews are extremely well constructed in a concise and succinct style. The place where the bodies were found and any significant key locations are identified also. Key witnesses and statements are accounted into the summaries. The epilogue also reflects the Ripper profile from the 1988 FBI investigation.

For those who are well versed in the Ripper murders, I don’t think there is much more uncovered than previously, but this book is unique in the use of visual aids and has a more engaging and entertaining feel that some previous versions. Its particular novel aspect is the geographical profiling model used. It should tailor to the established enthusiast and those with less knowledge, who don’t want to experience a too in-depth or dry read as in some previous texts. It does nicely celebrate the centenary of the ripper cases.

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