Portrait_of_a_Killer.car_Well, this was a long, gruesome slog.  In a word, the group found this book to be TEDIOUS.  A few of us didn’t finish it and the reasons given mostly concerned the pages and pages of discussions about watermarks.  Chapters, even, were given over to watermarks and who had what, when.

We agreed that we didn’t know too much about Jack the Ripper except that some guy was killing prostitutes in some kind of gruesome way and Jekyll and Hyde might be involved and a member of the Royal family and maybe a doctor.  The details of where, who, and (gulp) how were truly awful.

The book is actually an interesting premise.  A well-respected journalist, forensic pathologist, and best-selling author with buckets of money researches the available documents surrounding the Jack the Ripper case and decides Rickert is the one who done it.  And she even buys up a bunch of his art in her search for the truth.  Or at least her search for proof of her truth.  We had to admit that Cornwell was focused in her research, even if her presentation of the material could have used some organization and editing.

Her argument is compelling.  The man’s art is disturbing, his habits odd, the timing right.  But we got tired of the dark and dreary topic and the discussions about watermarks.  So yes, there was some skimming.  Particularly after the first half.  But it was thought-provoking.

Favorite? – The author.  Joan liked how she inserted herself into the narrative.  Joan also liked Warren, the poor head of Scotland Yard who brought in bloodhounds who ran amok in Hyde Park and who ended up quitting (or was he fired?)

Least favorite – Sickert.  Just a big psychopathic, self-centered weirdo.  Even if he didn’t do it, he was a big psychopathic, self-centered weirdo.

2 stars