A sensationalist account of the case of the ""Yorkshire Ripper"" (Peter Sutcliffe), who murdered 13 women--most, but not...



A sensationalist account of the case of the ""Yorkshire Ripper"" (Peter Sutcliffe), who murdered 13 women--most, but not all, prostitutes--over a six-year period, baffling over 200 British detectives. Sutcliffe's trademarks were the ball-peen hammer he used to bash his victims' heads in and a fondness for in-flicting multiple stab wounds to the abdomen. He wasn't finicky, either: Yallop reports that he hid one body, returned a week later, pulled out the intestines and tied them around the corpse. Like many mass-murderers, Sutcliffe led a completely separate life as a family man. Split personality? No, Yallop argues, just ""evil""--and someone who could have been caught years earlier, if the local police had been on their toes. Yallop's allegations of police ineptitude are not entirely persuasive, though clearly detectives botched one strong lead (a freshly minted five-pound note found in a victim's handbag) and in general the police handled press relations maladroitly. But the Ripper was cunning, took long vacations from murdering, and did not kill the same way each time. The case was also cohiplicated by the publicity given to several letters and one cassette tape (""I'm Jack""), all rather convincing, from an imposter who claimed to be the Ripper. On target, however, is Yallop's observation that it took the killings of non-prostitutes to generate real public involvement in solving the case, rather than mere voyeuristic interest in following it. Less convincing is his explanation of why Sutchiffe killed women--a warped reaction to his wife's seeming inability to become pregnant (which, Yallop claims, is why he stabbed his victims in the ""life-force area""). On the plus side: a stark portrait of the seamy side of life in Yorkshire cities, and lots of research on the victims and the crimes. On the minus side: everything else. Chiefly for gore addicts.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981

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