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Old February 8th, 2015, 01:30 PM   #1
Lemonjelly
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Default February 2015

I've just finished Russell Edwards book, Naming Jack the Ripper.

I purchased this on chance. I was aware of the impending release of it, & the associated discussion (which I tried to refrain from engaging in, to avoid colouring my own perceptions of the book). I didn't jump straight in to purchase it, as money is very tight atm, (hence a couple of other books haven't been ordered, principally Monty's, which I will buy as soon as becomes available). However, I saw it relatively cheap in The Works, so took the plunge.

I'm not a scientist at all, so it is very difficult for me to critique the scientific aspects of the research. The only comments I can really make here, are that I thought mitochondrial DNA was supposed to be a less reliable/specific form of DNA? Hence how can scientific surety be obtained from the shawl? The other query would be the shawl would have been handled by many people other than the author, Jari, Catherine Eddowes descendant and the others mentioned in the book. So this calls into query its definitiveness.

Onto the rest of the book, well the chapters surrounding the murders themselves were, imo too brief, and were a fairly standard re-telling of the murders, with vast areas of detail glossed over or omitted completely. A lot more should, imo have been included in these parts, at least highlighting Kosminski's location/proximity to the sites. Overall, these chapters just felt too brief.

I'm not sure whether it was just me being sceptical, but in trying to confirm the authenticity of the shawl, it felt like an attempt was started, and a case for further research made, but the author didn't really make an explicit case that the shawl was in Mitre Square 1888. Nor was there a credible explanation why the murderer would have taken it with him. It worked on a "Here's a possibility, lets research this further" point, but not in removing doubt. I was also confused by an assertion in the book regarding the significance of the shawl, the Michaelmas daisies, and this tying in with the murders being committed on days relating to Michaelmas. I can accept that as plausible, and again requiring further exploration, but the author fails to return to this point & doesn't make the link clear or explicit. Why were the dates important? This is apparently a big issue in proving the shawls provenance, but isn't explained.

On the rest of the book, well the feeling I came away with after finishing was that the most often read words were "I", "Me", "My" and so on. It was more a book about the author. I'm right, I know this, I'll be the first, no-one but me can see this.

I'm not saying that this is what the author intended to convey, clearly a lot has been investigated into this book. However it feels like a lot hasn't been included, and the book is more about the author, his life, and his beliefs than the matter at hand.Too much extraneous material on how texts made him feel, his time in churches, coffee shops or waiting for x, y or z really wasn't relevant, & to be honest,, I struggled with it. This was stuff I really didn't want to read about in the book, wasn't scientific, and basically wasn't relevant to why I was reading the book.

If the shawl is genuine, or there are reasonable grounds to suspect it could be, then a proper set of research should be done, and published without all the above extra guff that adds little to the validity of the claims made in the book. Indeed the repeated self/personal references ultimately resulted in affecting my perception of the harder facts in the book. A proper, more objective book, perhaps a little longer that takes out the equivalent of the 3 or 4 chapters worth of stuff about the author would be a much more valuable read, as well as more valuable contribution to research in the case.

In summary, on the whole it isn't as conclusive as it claims, much like many other "case closed" style books. It also offers no real arguments or points, aside from "I believe" and "here's a bit of science" to back up the point being made by the science. So the claims are made to stand too alone. Combined with too much about the writer, rather than the subject matter meant this wasn't an essential read that some had predicted it could be.
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Old February 8th, 2015, 06:14 PM   #2
Howard Brown
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Thanks a lot, Lem....and much appreciated.
I have the book too, and while I appreciate the effort necessary to write a book, I also saw much of what you saw yourself.
Thanks again.
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Old February 9th, 2015, 03:58 PM   #3
Lemonjelly
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You're very welcome How.
I'm more of a reader than studier I think. I don't get to read ripperologist in the detail I'd like - time doesn't allow, though I do subscribe & read as much as I can. However I don't feel knowledgeable enough to debate some of the finer points seen in some threads.

I am therefore pretty dependent on books, and have a fair few to read as well as many I've read. I'm determined to keep posting in this sub-forum! It's quite good for me to do that, and a good way to reflect in 3-6 months time, even though i frequently think I'm the only one.
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