Friday, September 17, 2010

a new suspect?

It looks like readers of this blog, if there are any left for this blog since I started it over a year ago for a blogging class, will experience a dry spell for an undetermined length of time.  Most of my free time is going into looking for a new place of habitation and a new (i.e. old, used, and cheap) vehicle.  Since my current job is only seasonal, I have been pursuing more permanent opportunities.

I'd like to discuss Paul Roland's book The Crimes of Jack the Ripper, which I finished rapidly soon after beginning it.  As I mentioned in my last post about the book, it's a "Jack the Ripper for Dummies" sort of format, which was good as it's been years since I last bothered to do any readings on those late 19th century Whitehall murders.

image source: Top News
Roland offers up a new suspect to consider: a "mad" Jewish butcher by the name of Jacob Levy, who lived within the vicinity of the murders.  Apparently the "mad" part comes from the syphilis that he contracted from the local Ladybirds.  The mental instability brought on by his STD, as well as his adept skills at butchering animals and his proximity to each of the murder locations, all make Levy a likely suspect who could have walked through Whitehall in the early hours of the morning stained in blood without anyone giving it a second thought.  Roland also says that Levy died in an insane asylum 1891, the year the official Jack the Ripper file was closed by Scotland Yard.  A coincidence, or proof that the Yardies knew that no longer had to contend with the infamous serial killer?

Roland made a good case against Levy.  Of course, all of his claims are purely theoretical.  There is no solid evidence against Levy, nothing to strengthen the muscles of the finger accusingly pointed at the Jewish butcher. The author knows his case isn't strong in that sense and admits it, ending the book by saying that it is unlikely anyone will ever learn the identity of the real Jack the Ripper.

Roland also notes in the last paragraph:
"Jack the Ripper continues to hold a grim fascination because he remains in the shadows and as such can be whoever we want him to be.  He is the only one who got away, the bogeyman of our nightmares..."
Jack the Bogeyman.  It makes perfect sense now why I am obsessed with this Victorian serial killer.  I am enthralled by nightmarish images and horror stories.  Not the gory kind, per say, but the suspenseful thrillers, the ones that make you stop and think, and wonder why and how.  Mysteries are always more entertaining for me than bloodbaths, which is why I'll always chose Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho over the Saw series.  Jack the Ripper will always be more memorable in my wild imagination than the likes of butcher Vlad the Impaler.

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