Jack the Ripper


“. . . this may well be the best short overview of the Ripper crimes yet published.” See the full review at the bottom of the page.

Jack the Ripper and the women whose lives he took is now available as an e-book for $4.99. You can purchase it directly from the publisher, www.friesenpress.com/bookstore if you have a device that can read a PDF file. If not then you can purchase it easily as an electronic version for your e-reader from Amazon, Chapters (Kobo), Nook, among others.

Make sure you put in the full title or you will likely bring up the earlier paperback version of this book. As you can read below, these are still for sale from individual sellers but they are selling for up to $50 and more whereas the e-book version is a low $4.99.


Book’s Background

I am very proud of Jack the Ripper. When I was asked to write it by the publisher I did not want it to be just another hashing of the old Ripper tale, focusing on the man and his brutal killings. I decided it should be more about the five women whose lives were taken by him, and the kind of lives they suffered in Victorian England. It was a brutal life, not the least glamorous, and I think my book shows that very well.

It was supposed to be the first in a series of books for the market in the United Kingdom but the plans were abandoned and the book got lost in the shuffle as the publishers could not decide what to do with it. They ended up going bankrupt and the rights reverted to me.

Please enjoy the following excerpts from the book. 2013 is the 125th anniversary of the series of murders that captured the imagination of the world.




Excerpt from Chapter Five, Mary Jane Kelly:

Social unrest was nothing new in London and Sir Charles Warren, who had become the Metropolitan Police Commissioner in 1886, played a major role in inciting it a year before the Ripper murders. During the summer of 1887, large numbers of the destitute unemployed began campaigning in Trafalgar Square. Warren, fearing these meetings would lead to riots, asked Home Secretary Henry Matthews to ban all meetings in the square. A meeting to challenge the ban was called for on 13 November 1887. More than 100,000 of the unemployed and socialists – including playwright George Bernard Shaw, poet William Morris, artist Walter Crane and female activist Annie Bryant – swarmed towards Trafalgar Square that day, where they were met by 2,000 police who beat them and drove them into the side streets. Those running towards the square were charged down by police horses. Warren himself was mounted on one of them. “Bloody Sunday,” as it came to be remembered, was an ugly day that ended with the death of two of the demonstrators. The press and the socialists would never forget the day or the role Warren played in it.

After the East End murders began, George Bernard Shaw, referring to Bloody Sunday, voiced his views in a letter to The Star, printed on 24 September 1888. The letter said in part:

“Will you allow me to make a comment on the success of the Whitechapel murderer [he was not yet known as Jack the Ripper] in calling attention for a moment to the social question? Less than a year ago the West-end press, headed by . . . . The Times and the Saturday Review, were literally clambering for the blood of the people – hounding on Sir Charles Warren to thrash and muzzle the scum who dared to complain they were starving – applauding to the skies the open class bias of those magistrates and judges who zealously did their very worst in the criminal proceedings which followed. . . . The Saturday Review was still frankly for hanging the appellants; and The Times denounced them as ‘pests of society’. . . . Now all is changed. Private enterprise has succeeded where Socialism failed. Whilst we conventional Social Democrats were wasting our time on education, agitation, and organisation, some independent genius has taken the matter in hand, and by simply murdering and disembowelling women, converted the proprietary press to an inept sort of communism.”


The Prologue: 

Officially, she would be the first.

As Polly went off in search of the fourpence needed for lodgings that night, the 42-year-old was about to go down in history. Three times during the day she had had enough money to sleep safe that night – and three times Polly drank it away.

One of the coldest and wettest summers on record was coming to a close in 1888. A thunderstorm earlier in the evening and continuing sporadic showers had left the cobblestone road very slippery. It was after 3.15 in the morning as she drunkenly staggered along Buck’s Row in London’s gritty East End.

Polly was one of the “unfortunates”, as Victorians called the women who, for one reason or another, had turned to prostitution to survive.

The section of the road she walked along was narrow, with shabby, two-storey houses lining one side and high warehouse walls lining the other. The only light came from a single gas street lamp which, from the end of the road, cast long, eerie shadows on the cobblestones and left the pavement in virtual darkness.

Hearing someone behind her in the street, Polly turned and saw a man in the distance. She paused to steady herself against a closed gateway. Hoping to offer her services and collect the money needed for the night’s lodgings, she smoothed out her skirts and straightened her bonnet.

Polly turned to face the man and started to say hello, but the word never left her lips. Clamping one hand over her mouth, he shoved her to the ground so viciously that her teeth cut into her tongue. With his other hand he gripped her throat, strangling her until she lost consciousness.

Then, with a long-bladed knife, the man sliced a four-inch cut across Polly’s neck, followed by another longer swipe below it from left ear to right.

Jack the Ripper was born.


Jack The Ripper book coverTo the right is a copy of the old cover of the printed paperback version. I have left it in because it then allows the beginning of the review by Stephen Ryder, which is below, to make sense.

What was said about Jack the Ripper:

The first review is by a man, Stephen P. Ryder, who started and runs the largest Jack the Ripper website in the world (www.casebook.org). For anyone interested in the saga of this killer, check out the site because it has everything you could want to know about the Victorian murders. Ryder has read every Jack book out there and I was flattered he had so many positive things to say about my book.


Jack the Ripper: Murder Mystery And Intrigue in London’s East End
Susan McNicoll

Don’t judge this book by its cover.

From the outside, Jack the Ripper: Murder, Mystery and Intrigue in London’s East End looks like the kind of book you’d pick up in the “young adult” section of a bookstore, but don’t let that turn you off. Although short (about 120 pages) and printed in a large typeface, this may well be the best short overview of the Ripper crimes yet published. McNicoll covers the basic details of all five canonical murders, as well as those of Tabram, McKenzie and Coles. Illustrative snippets are included from authors such as Jack London, George Bernard Shaw and others who surveyed the social conditions of the Victorian East End. McNicoll also makes extensive use of contemporary press reports to further illustrate the text.

The final chapter (actually the “Epilogue”) covers a wide array of suspects including Lewis Carroll, Walter Sickert, the Royal Conspiracy, Montague John Druitt, James Maybrick and Joseph Barnett. The author believes it is “highly unlikely that we will ever know for sure the identity of Jack the Ripper,” but suggests that of all the suspects named to date, George Chapman and Francis Tumblety seem to be best of a poor bunch.

Well-written and meticulously researched, Susan McNicoll’s Jack the Ripper is an excellent alternative for readers who want to learn more about Jack the Ripper but don’t necessarily want to pick up a full-fledged, 300+ page book on the murders. Although experienced Ripperologists would probably not find much new information here, I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a basic introduction to the case.

– Stephen P. Ryder, Executive Editor, casebook.org.

“The book was well written to keep the reader’s interest…” with four out of five stars

Thomas M. – reader on Amazon.com

Susan McNicoll takes us into the slums of Victorian London for five harrowing encounters with the women who would die at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Thoroughly researched, this is an intimate portrait of life in desperate poverty and a city in crisis. Recommended.

Cheryl Harrington – reader on Amazon.com