Jack the Ripper Dossier, Part XV – the last victim

Welcome to the 15th episode of Richard Walker’s weekly podcast series on Jack the Ripper.

“Mary Jane Kelly is different from the other victims.”

And so we come to the most horrific murder. And the most mysterious of the five canonical victims.

As with the previous 14 episodes, it’s not just what you’re told, it’s how you’re told it. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: this is a great storyteller at work. We see the superb craftsmanship of the writer-editor-storyteller in the selection and ordering of detail – every last word is perfect and perfectly placed; and we hear the superb craftsmanship of the entertainer-storyteller in the rustling, dry leaves quality of Richard’s voice and especially in the pacing and cadence of the presentation. This is narration – storytelling – as music. Lines like “murdered in her bed, in a room, behind a locked door” and “‘Ratcliffe and Wapping have ways of their own'” and “did this young woman invent a new identity for herself?” and “very quarrelsome and abusive when intoxicated” are compelling on the page – when you hear Richard say them they have a ring of fire round them. You know – recognise perhaps intuitively, perhaps consciously – that you are in the company of somebody who does this sort of thing at a very high level. You know that you’re with someone you want to listen to; you know you’ve found your storyteller for Jack the Ripper.

A penultimate point. The podcast is not a walk. Richard has more elbow room in the podcast. But an important takeaway from the podcast is: “my god, this guy knows his stuff, if I have any questions – either background questions or questions that hug the belt of this subject – I’m going to get an informed, judicious, very interesting answer. I’ve made the right choice here.

Richard is the actor, adventurer (he sailed across the Pacific in a tiny two-man skiff) and masterful Ripperologist performance artist who’s created a new version of the Ripper Walk. His walk is called Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel. It’s an exclusive VIP Ripper walk (it’s a guaranteed small group tour – the numbers are strictly limited).

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