Title: The Face of the Killer
Author: Violet Addison & David N. Smith
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Historical fiction, Race
Dates read: 25th August 2019
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: On its back was a single wooden coffin, its sides stained with blood.
He thinks he’s seen the face of the killer, and he’s determined to help find him. But could he have been mistaken? Did he really see the face of the killer?
This is the first story in the The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories collection which deals with racism as an aspect of finding the killer. Although there was an obvious aggression towards Jews at the time, none of the tales in this collection have specifically addressed this topic. Which made this kind of amazing. After all, a tale of perceptions, understandings and inherent racism is always going to be a good kind of read.
This was a story that seemed to be about the “true” identity of the killer. About what he actually looked like, not about how easily misconceptions can occur. But I liked this angle much better. After all, we’ll never truly know who the Ripper was, and all we have to go on are reports based on others’ thoughts and perceptions.
My favourite part of this short story was the ending. The feeling of shame and guilt that the narrator felt when he realised that he let his prejudice destroy a good man’s life. And the moment when he realises that his actions had consequences, although he is not necessarily held responsible for them.