Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman Review
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We have yet another suspect for Jack the Ripper. But in the case of Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman, Jack was a woman. So this is another Jill the Ripper theory, like that of Mary Pearcy or Detective Frederick Abberline, head of the Scotland Yard’s investigation into the Ripper murders, who speculated the Ripper might be a midwife, since she could blend in even if she was covered with blood and because Victorian midwives used pressure points to knock out women who were in agony giving birth.

Author John Morris’s thinking is of less quality. He keeps suggesting that he was there, privy to the most intimate details of the events. “She pushed her victim’s skirts up to her breasts and confidently opened the abdomen.” How does he know that she was confident? Clearly, he could not have talked to his suspect, let alone gotten a confession, let alone known her mood at the time of any of the murders.

And yet he also writes, “She only knew from her observations how a hysterectomy should be performed; she had never before practiced and operation, or indeed any surgery, herself.” Yet those “observations” are an hypothesis put in the beginning of the book. For this theory that a husband would bring his wife to work to watch him perform hysterectomies, Morris provides no evidence, no support whatsoever, except he needs it to have happened. He presents it as a possibility at the beginning of the book, but thereafter it is taken as if proven fact.

He tells us that, to be Jack the Ripper, one would have to have access to the right kind of knife—a fact that he used to zero in on the right suspect. But the surgeon’s knife of the Ripper is an old point. And let’s be honest: it’s a knife, not a gun. Then, as now, if you want a six- to eight-inch knife, you walk into the store and buy one. Look at Skallagrim on YouTube; he has hundreds of knives and swords. And this is a much more regulated era than then.

Morris also keeps harping on about how a woman would be unnoticed in crowds or on the street. A man would be noticed; a man and a woman would be noticed. But a single woman or two women together would go unnoticed. Not only that, but a woman who leaves a house she doesn’t live in wouldn’t be noticed by the neighbors around her.

Magically, his suspect has stalking powers that never get her noticed by anyone—because women go unnoticed. Again, there’s no evidence for this, and I can only conclude that he’s saying it because he thinks it will benefit his theory. It doesn’t.

It’s this kind of skewing of facts that goes on through the whole book. I wholeheartedly disrecommend it.

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