You Don't Know Jack.
Not because he was a quasi-supernatural entity able to perform lightning-fast kerb-side surgery whilst running split-second rings around two London police forces.
Jack the Ripper did not exist - except within the minds of his creators and those who for one reason or another have attempted for over one hundred years to turn the myth into a reality.
In 1976 Simon Daryl Wood revealed Stephen Knight's hugely popular Royal Conspiracy to be a farrago of nonsense, and since then has written extensively on the Whitechapel Murders.
"Deconstructing Jack: The Secret History of the Whitechapel Murders," the result of over twenty years' research, casts a sceptical eye over the continuous stream of lies, invention, political misinformation, self-publicity and opportunism which has kept this Victorian bogeyman alive in the darkest reaches of our 21st Century imaginations.
Can history ever bring itself to shrug off almost 130 years of dogma and cherished beliefs, and at last smile ruefully at having been suckered in probably the greatest shell game of all time? Or will this heretical challenge to orthodoxy be peremptorily dismissed as revisionist nonsense, thus allowing the time-old parlour game of Pin the Tail on the Ripper to continue ad infinitum?
If you have any interest in the Jack the ripper murders then you must buy this book. It is simply the greatest book written on the subject.
Easily, the best book written on the subject within recent years; and in the top ten ever published. Excellent work.
Why do I give this book 5 stars? For one, it's written exquisitely by someone who knows how to write. That makes it a a breezy read, which is necessary given the gargantuan length of the manuscript. Do I agree with Simon's conclusions? Not at all. Many of them are flawed, or are the least likely of the given possibilities. But as a reader of Simon's work for years on the internet and in journals such as Ripperologist Magazine, I've always admired his rare ability to force new thought and new consideration. He does this by not accepting something as fact just because it's sold to him as such. To my mind, that's a valuable commodity in an author. Most Ripper books are just retreads of the same old stuff. Nothing put out by Simon is so mundane, which is why I would recommend his book to any serious reader in the field. I do not recommend agreeing with him because he sounds smart (he is) nor do I recommend disagreeing with him simply because what he says runs contrary with what the old fuddy duddies of the field say. But if something in the book resonates with you and sparks your curiosity, go investigate it for yourself. Double-check the facts. Ripperology is fun, or at least it should be. Simon Wood knows this. So get this book and have a blast.
Tom Wescott, author of the award-winning "The Bank Holiday Murders."
Deconstructing Jack: The Secret History of the Whitechapel Murders by Simon Daryl Wood is an Award-Winning Finalist in the "True Crime: Nonfiction" category of the 2016 International Book Awards.
Deconstructing Jack won the 2015 Book of the Year Award at the Jack the Ripper Conference, Nottingham, England.