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The Man Who Would Be Jack - David Bullock

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      11.12.2012 16:31
      Very helpful



      Didn't convince me and I doubt he'd convince many others

      The man who would be jack is an attempt to show that Thomas Cutbush was the infamous Whitechapel murderer Jack the Ripper. The book was written by David Bullock and aims to correlate the known activities of the real Thomas Cutbush with him being the murderer, as with all 'ripper unearthed' style books we have a lot of conjecture and little or no evidence.

      Jack the Ripper

      Do I need to go into a lot of detail about the most famous series killer of all time? In autumn 1888, at least 5 women were brutally murdered, slashed open and the murderer never identified. Since then the identity of the killer has been the scene of fevered speculation and outright embellishment. Whole lists of suspects have been compiled and their chances of being the killer examined, sometimes analytically, sometimes hysterically and sometimes hilariously.

      Thomas Cutbush

      Thomas Cutbush was a man with mental issues who was incarcerated at Broadmoor after stabbing two women in 1891, he died 1903. At the time of the killings he wasn't suspected but only a few years later some journalists suggested him as a possible killer, the chief of police wrote backing claiming three other men were more likely than Cutbush to be the killer. Thomas was at least in London in 1888 but lived about 3 miles away and was considered confused but not a danger to others by his co-workers at a clerk's office.

      The man who would be jack

      The author seeks to identify Thomas as the killer; he uses the stabbing of the two women as a route to suggesting a young man with a troubled personality. The author examines each murder and tries desperately to make a case of Thomas to have been at the place, known the victim or in some way show his hand. The book is entertaining in its style of writing, but some of the evidence is at best dubious and at worse a huge exaggeration of the evidence. Much is made of the various descriptions of the killer, and how they tie in with the known description of Cutbush he was a slight, tall man with piercing blue eyes. The author uses three sightings of the killer from different murders to highlight the similarities with Cutbush i.e. tall, slight and err that's it, ignoring of course all the other descriptions which are nothing like Cutbush's description. He also dwells for too long on the first description of the killer as being Jewish in appearance, this is apparently Cutbush as he shares many characteristics of the Jewish race (tall, slight, piercing blue eyes, a strange way of speaking), I know that is exactly the description I would give for most people from Israel!

      There are however far worse cases of journalistic licence taken in this book, one of the first murdered women is supposed to address the killer as Jim, Cutbush often used the pseudonym James, well that proves the point in my opinion but from this point onwards the author just takes it on trust that this proves Cutbush is the killer. Firstly, this is a comment from a very dubious source and secondly there must be hundreds of men calling themselves Jim in London at the time? The worse liability is the use of the suicide of Superintendent Cutbush in 1893; this is because the policeman and Thomas are related except as far as I can see they are not, and the author makes no effort to draw a family tree to prove it, the shared surname is enough. The reason for the suicide? Well a senior policeman with a nephew who's Jack the Ripper, how would one's bridge companions contemplate that?

      This isn't the worse this is Jack style book but it's a long way from the best, it does have a couple of things going for it one Cutbush was a real person (seriously some books push those who have never been alive), he was in London at the time (the royal conspiracies have to go through loops to get the Prince of Wales back from Scotland in time for one of the murders), he was at least investigated at the time (but found completely innocent), and he was clearly mentally unbalanced. The main downside in my opinion, a man who in 1888 killed prostitutes in the most horrid way stops for 3 years and then stabs two women in the bottom, seems a bit of a change of scene for the killer.

      This book was decently written and does it's best to flog it's this is Jack theory but the writing is a bit sloppy, the case hardly proved and would have a better book if the author had investigated the journalists who originally printed their article in 1893. There is a suspicion he started out that way but soon decided on a I've found Jack book and the way was lost from that point onwards.


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