Read our biography of Patricia Cornwell.


Portrait of a Killer
Jack The Ripper: Case Closed
by Patricia Cornwell

In a departure from her previous best-selling mystery novels, Patricia Cornwell delves into the murky and sordid world of the notorious serial killer known as Jack the Ripper. Is it possible, after 100 years, to apply modern forensic techniques to evidence dating from the Victorian era and, by doing so, identify the true perpetrator of the infamous Whitechapel murders?

Patricia Cornwell not only thinks that it is possible, she thinks she's solved the case. Cornwell has concluded that a renowned artist, Walter Sickert (1860-1942) committed the horrific crimes that led him to be dubbed by the press as Jack the Ripper.

Inspired by a visit to England's Scotland Yard, Cornwell investigated the strange life of Walter Sicket. Intrigued by the artist's violent paintings, she took it upon herself to apply modern techniques of criminal investigation to the cold case file.

With a personal background in criminal investigation, Cornwell hired additional forensic investigators who came up with new DNA findings from samples on an envelope supposedly mailed by Jack the Ripper and two envelopes used by the artist, Sickert. Cornwell also did extensive studies of phrasing used by the murderer, as well as handwriting and drawing styles attributed both to the Ripper and Sickert. The author also links the artist with the killer by concluding that Sickert was impotent and carried a deep rage against women which might be at the heart of the string of murders of London prostitutes.

While Cornwell builds some interesting bridges in theories surrounding the Ripper case, it is unlikely that, as she so boldly puts it, the case is closed. There are too many unanswered questions and too much time has expired to believe that the mystery of Jack the Ripper has been solved quite yet.

Read our biography of Patricia Cornwell.