Book Review: Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert

I have a confession to make: I am a terrible true crime fan. I love listening to My Favorite Murder and if I’m ever in a hotel, Dateline and The First 48 are shows I jump at watching. But I don’t always keep up with famous murders, unless they are directly in my radar (thank you, MFM). Because of this, I knew about Jack the Ripper, but I didn’t really know much past that he was a serial killer that was killing over a hundred years ago. ripper

I did not realize that they never caught the Ripper (which makes sense considering forensics in the late 1800s, early 1900s). I did not know who the Ripper was suspected to be. So when I picked up Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Conwell, I assumed that Walter Sickert was confirmed as Jack Ripper. Imagine my surprise when I learned, as I read, that this is not the case!

Ripper is an incredibly fascinating book. Patricia Conwell traces her own personal investigation into the identity of the Ripper, whom she strongly believes to be Walter Sickert. The book rotates through discussing the numerous murders Jack the Ripper committed, the person that was Walter Sickert, his connections to the murders (including why she believes he is the Ripper), and her struggles as she sought answers for a century-old case.

As you  read Conwell’s book, you will go deep into the mind of Walter Sickert and Jack the Ripper (whether they be separate or the same). The Kindle edition that I got is brimming with pictures, maps, and letters that are quite compelling. Patricia Conwell is a thorough researcher and from my angle, I don’t think she left a single stone unturned. If you are interested in true crime or just curious about the case of Jack the Ripper a.k.a. maybe Walter Sickert, this is definitely the book for you.

While reading the book, I did feel like I was getting a little bit of whiplash with all of the jumping around. I see Conwell’s intentions in the way it was all laid out, but I do wish the chapters had been ordered better.

Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Conwell gets 3/5 stars.


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