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The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women killed by Jack the Ripper – Hallie Rubenhold

As a self-confessed serial killer documentary enthusiast, I strangely enjoy reading and watching academics attempt to uncover the mysteries of murder. I find the psychological investigations on serial killers a guilty pleasure of mine, having listened to the brilliant Professor Elizabeth Yardley on Britain’s most evil killers throughout my lockdown experience. It’s so strange why people find it so interesting researching on people who have committed inhumane acts against innocent people, whether it be comforting to know the killers are behind bars, or whether it relieves us of the monotonous routines of everyday life. I find it interesting because it enables me to explore something completely dark and perverse without being exposed to it. One person however, who has always struck and terrified me, is the Jack the Ripper.

Jack the Ripper, is an unidentified serial killer who conducted a murder spree in the Whitechapel District of London in 1888. The perpetrator was never caught or reprimanded for his actions; and as a result, his victims (mostly female prostitutes) never got justice for their terrifying ordeals. It is also shocking that the killer has received worldwide attention and numerous speculation, more so than his victims. Hallie’s Rubenhold’s book however, changes everything. It is a fantastic and gripping read that focuses entirely on the canonical five: Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. Each woman has their own section dedicated to them, along with insightful images and reports to accompany their stories. Rubenhold’s narrative delivers these women from silence, and seeks to investigate the causes for the historical amnesia surrounding these women’s personal lives and achievements. Rubenhold’s narrative shames the misogyny concerning the mythical ‘legend’ of the Ripper, and as the Daily Mail quotes, the story gives ‘these women the immortality their murderer does not deserve’. I received this book as a Christmas present and quite simply, could not put it down!

Rubenhold’s accounts of these women seek to restore their reputations from passive victims to the heroines of their own tales and to fundamentally – do these women justice. The book meets its aims in abundance. The narrative is spine-chillingly brilliant and a highly recommended read.

Alex

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