Published by Fourth Estate
6th October 2015
A book like no other – the tale of a gripping quest to discover the identity of history’s most notorious murderer and a literary high-wire act from the legendary writer and director of Withnail and I. For over a hundred years, ‘the mystery of Jack the Ripper’ has been a source of unparalleled fascination and horror, spawning an army of obsessive theorists, and endless volumes purporting finally to reveal the identity of the brutal murderer who terrorised Victorian England. But what if there was never really any ‘mystery’ at all? What if the Ripper was always hiding in plain sight, deliberately leaving a trail of clues to his identity for anyone who cared to look, while cynically mocking those who were supposedly attempting to bring him to justice?
In THEY ALL LOVE JACK, the award-winning film director and screenwriter Bruce Robinson exposes the cover-up that enabled one of history’s most notorious serial killers to remain at large. More than twelve years in the writing, this is much more than a radical reinterpretation of the Jack the Ripper legend, and an enthralling hunt for the killer. A literary high-wire act reminiscent of Tom Wolfe or Hunter S. Thompson, it is an expressionistic journey through the cesspools of late-Victorian society, a phantasmagoria of highly placed villains, hypocrites and institutionalised corruption. Polemic, forensic investigation, panoramic portrait of an age, underpinned by deep scholarship and delivered in Robinson’s inimitably vivid and scabrous prose, THEY ALL LOVE JACK is an absolutely riveting and unique book, demolishing the theories of generations of self-appointed experts – the so-called ‘Ripperologists’ – to make clear, at last, who really did it; and more importantly, how he managed to get away with it for so long.
This is a beast of a book, coming in at over 800 pages, in this Bruce Robinson sets out his belief and evidence that Victoria songwriter, Michael Maybrick was Jack the Ripper. The book is well written, which is to be expected from the author of ‘Withnail and I’, the language is all at once shocking and appropriate, and not just the expletives, but in his description of the lower classes, poor, Jews and prostitutes of Victorian Whitechapel.
However, while some may think this is not necessary and the product of poor writing, however I believe that this was intentionally done, to show the modern reader how those people in Whitechapel were viewed by the upper classes. It also the sense of anger and injustice that Robinson obviously feels, and his writing pulls you into that feeling, he makes you feel it too.
He is clearly angry at Victorian Society and Freemasonry and his passion is clearly felt throughout the book, we should all be angry at the way those who were not privileged were treated, we must keep that anger to ensure that this treatment is eradicated from humanity,.
The way the poor were treated in Victorian times was abomination that is highlighted by Robinson in a very straight forward and brutal way.
The retelling of the Ripper crimes, however is fragmented and not in historical order and Robinson jumps from one murder to another highlighting masonic symbols found at the scenes.
He takes apart the police reports and witness statement and questions why some people were not called to testify at the Coroner’s Inquest.
Why were the statements of Matthew Packer, who claims he sold grapes to Stride and her companion on the night of her murder and others who claim they say grape stems in her hand and grape seeds on the floor suppressed?
Why was the Goulston Street Graffito washed away before it could be photographed?
Why were the police adamant that there were 5 victims and 5 victims only?
Bruce Robinson provides theories and evidence the contradicts the official story.
They all Love Jack is a compelling read, but I would have preferred if he had written the book with the order of events in a chronological order. For me the most compelling part of the book, is the story of Michael Maybrick’s sister-in-law, Florence, the wife of yet another Ripper suspect James Maybrick and her arrest, trial and conviction of murdering her husband with arsenic, when he was a well-known drug user and regularly took arsenic, for some reason she was a scapegoat, and Mr Robinson alleges she was set up by Michael to take the blame when he himself was the murderer.
A well written and compelling read, I don’t think it proves that Maybrick was the Ripper, but, I don’t think we will ever actually know who he was.
It took me about 2 months to read this book as a book this size really needs concentration.
If you are into true crime or Jack the Ripper then you should enjoy this book, although it does have Ripperologists up in arms due to his scathing dismissal of them
I gave this 4 out of 5* on Goodreads