A Year in Non-Fiction

This year I’ve been a bit disappointed in the quality of my reading material. Usually I’m able to pick out one or two good fiction and non-fiction books to recommend. Obviously, this is subjective and personal tastes differ. I’ll talk about non-fiction here and fiction next week.

I found the three big new books with a connection to Jack the Ripper, unsatisfactorily for different reasons. The Five relied on an aggressive, and unpleasant marketing technique for the unnecessary and flawed argument that some of the Ripper victims were not prostitutes. Drew Gray and Andrew Wise failed to make a convincing case against the chosen suspect or prove the connection with the Thames Torso murders. H Division Crime Club’s book on the suspects didn’t add anything new for me.

For me it was older books that stood out. I reread the memoirs of Benjamin Leeson, a fascinating account of policing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Man from the Train puts forward the intriguing possibility that a serial killer killed multiple families in America between 1898 and 1912.

I would recommend that anyone with an interest in nineteenth century history takes out a free subscription to Ripperologist, which enjoyed another good year with some interesting and well-researched articles. Also special mention to RipperCast for publishing recordings from the East End Conference and Whitechapel Society talks.

Paul Williams is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, best known for his study of the Jack the Ripper suspects.


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