They All Love Jack, Bruce Robinson (Harper)

they all love jack

This may be the angriest book ever written about Jack the Ripper. Robinson, perhaps most widely known as a director and screenwriter (Withnail & I, The Killing Fields), appears at some points in the book to be on the verge of frothing at the mouth, inconsolably furious at what he believes to be the stupidity, gullibility, and just plain foolishness of some of the people who have put forward their own theories about the identity of Saucy Jack. About one well-known writer (Stephen Knight, author of 1976’s Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution), he says: “His is a well-presented dissertation of comprehensive nonsense. Every facet of it is ridiculous. It is a twerp history.” That seems a tad harsh.

Robinson calls They All Love Jack “a repudiation of virtually everything Ripperology has ever written,” and it definitely fires of lot of literary missiles at a lot of targets – hitting most, missing a few – but in the end we can’t deny that this is another book with a theory about the identity of the Whitechapel murderer. Ultimately, and this isn’t meant as a criticism since all Ripper theories are either accepted or rejected without definitive evidence one way or the other, Robinson presents a well-reasoned, well-supported theory that is bolstered by clever thinking and imaginative dot-connecting, but not by any hard evidence. It’s a hugely entertaining book, probably the liveliest Ripper book ever written, but the definitive solution to the mystery remains illusive.

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