As a kid, I was obsessed with Jack the Ripper. I knew the intimate details of the murders, and my grisly knowledge would often scare friends and family. When I went to London during high school, my favorite part wasn’t seeing the palace or Big Ben, but instead, the walking tour of all the sites Saucy Jack frequented.
Of course, I didn’t grow up to be a serial killer, but my knowledge of the crimes only grew. So when this book was announced, I was all over it.
The Big Book of Jack the Ripper, edited by Otto Penzler, is a great cross section of not only historical documents but also wonderful fiction.
They really aren’t joking by calling it a “big book.” The first 130 pages or so are all documentation from 1888, from the files of the police to news reports. It’s fascinating to get the historical context down first, with some real, in-depth files all in one place, to learn more about the crimes.
Beyond that, the other 700 pages present some fascinating short stories and novellas about the crime; to classic tales from over the years to some brand new additions. This book is exhaustive in its scope, but in a good way.
Some of the stand outs for me were by Stephen Hunter, when Jack arrives in Hell, and Lyndsay Faye’s posthumous memoir of one of his victims. Also included are The Lodger, one of the best fictional pieces ever written on the subject.
Penzler did a wonderful job compiling all of this into a comprehensive volume. It sat at my bedside for months, and many times, a simple “I’ll read one entry and go to bed” turned into hours-long binging sessions.
Ripperologists, you will be pleased! The Big Book of Jack the Ripper, edited by Otto Penzler, does a wonderful job of providing some valuable insight into the case, plus some great fiction stories as well. Definitely worth picking up!