Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Short Con Week 14 - Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper

I had some trepidations about reading this story.

I had heard of it long before I came to own this book.  It was always spoken of by writers as a favorite of theirs.  There was a reverence about it.  Robert Bloch was a man to be respected and admired.  After all, this was the man who wrote the book Psycho.  And thanks to a certain shower scene, it's a story that's been in the collective consciousness for some time.

It's about Jack the Ripper, a boogyman who has existed since the first day of the Whitechapel killings.  Even without knowing particulars, people know who Jack the Ripper is.  And it's a story that's been done to death.  It seems every mystery writer has a Jack story to tell.  Who can blame them, as his identity was never discovered.  Many works, from Alan Moore's brilliant From Hell  to Patricia Cornwell's Case Closed have offered interesting theories on the identity of the man.

Did I really need to read another?  Hell, it was only thirteen pages, why not?

An Englishman, Sir Guy Hollis, has come to America in search of Jack the Ripper.  Although the Ripper would be in his 80's by now, Hollis believes that Jack never stopped killing.  His theory is Jack has been frequently travelling the globe, killing on specific dates, and using dark magic to stay young.

His search has lead him to Chicago, where he introduces himself to John Carmody, a psychiatrist.  Hollis believes that Jack would have placed himself in a social circle that Carmody might belong to, and he hopes to find him with Carmody's help.

They both find more than they bargain for.

It was worth the fifteen minutes I spent on it. It's not something I'll go back and re-read over and over again, but it was a well told story.  I had the ending figured out a few pages in, and although I knew what was coming, I was engaged enough to follow along until I got there.  It's inclusion into The 50 Greatest Mysteries of All Time is warrented.

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