Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cornwell and the Ripper

Thanks to my Clarion 2004 student Charles Schoenfeld (and his wife, Becky) for the detailed comment (at the next post below) on Donald Rumbelow's Jack the Ripper tours.

Charles mentions Rumbelow's disdain for Patricia Cornwell's recent book Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper -- Case Closed (awkward title, that). I haven't read the book, but I read the lengthy excerpt published in Vanity Fair at the time, and it struck me as a good example of an investigator deciding on a theory ahead of time, then diligently amassing the few scraps of evidence that support the theory, while ignoring the great mass of evidence that doesn't. Stephen Ryder does a good job analyzing what Cornwell did and did not prove, again on the excellent website Casebook: Jack the Ripper.

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