Book Review: The Hunt for the 60's Ripper
Hunt for the 60’s Ripper
(Mirror Books, 2017)
In the early sixties as London began to swing eight women were murdered, their bodies left unclothed in alleys and on bomb sites. The crimes are largely forgotten now, but, at the time they were likened to those of the most notorious murderer of all.
True crime can sometimes be a dubious genre, home to salacious speculation and unhappyly obsessed with gory details. Just occasionally a book emerges that pushes past the conventions to say something interesting.
This is exactly what Robin Jarossi has written. He sets out the details of the murders committed by the man dubbed by the press ‘Jack the Stripper' and the less than effective attempt to catch him made by the police.
These were the days when police officers wore trilby hats and belted raincoats and homicide detectives like Chief Superintendent John Due Rose were national
figures. They were also the days when casual prejudices were openly expressed,
not a helpful factor in a case where the victims were ‘ladies of the night'.
That, along with methods that hadn’t advanced much since Jack the Ripper haunted Whitechapel, led to the culprit going uncaught, despite huge resources being expended and relentless media coverage.
Jarossi, showing considerable skill since this is a very short book, manages to locate the crimes in their cultural context. This was a time when the tabloid press was getting into its stride and s mix of satire and the Profumo scandal put the final nail in the coffin of deference.
More importantly he keeps his readers focus on the fact that the right women involved were human beings, broken by their bad beginnings, not statistics or examples of moral failure to be pondered by experts as they stroke their metaphorical beards.
His assertion as to who may have committed the murders and why he got away with it holds water. However, since most of the witnesses have died and the forensic evidence has, perhaps conveniently, been lost, it remains purely speculative.
It is though a step closer to the answer the victims and their surviving relatives