Tag Archives: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories

The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories edited by Maxim Jakubowski

Overview
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Title: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories
Author: Maxim Jakubowski, Barbara Nadel, Rhys Hughes, Columbkill Noonan, John Moralee, Martin Edwards, Paul A. Freeman, Vanessa de Sade, Josh Reynolds, M. Christian, Terry Davis, Patrick Jones, Michael Gregorio, Alex Howard, Stephen Dedman, Sarah Morrison, Martin Gately, Andrew Lane, Nic Martin, K.G. Anderson, Violet Addison, David N. Smith, Keith Moray, William Meikle, Cara Cooper, Brett McBean, Andrew Darlington, Betsy van Die, David Bishop, Nick Sweet, Steve Rasnic Tem, Erin N. Kennemer, Adrian Ludens, Catherine Lundoff, Martin Feekins, C.L. Raven, Nicky Peacock, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Sally Spedding & Adrian Cole
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Historical fictionShort story collections, Thriller
Dates read: 29th January – 30th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: She does not possess the sharpest mind, and it was not until long after the death of her friend Mary Jane that she began to make sense of what had happened.

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Synopsis

Jack the Ripper as he has never been seen before…

Countless theories have been put forward by Ripperologists as to the identity of the notorious Victorian serial killer, but in the absence of proof how can we hope ever to unearth his real identity? How many more plausible new theories based on known facts can the experts hope to come up with?

In this wonderful collection of newly commissioned stories, Jakubowski has compiled an extraordinary array of fresh explorations into the identity and activities of Jack the Ripper – this time unabashedly fictional, unrestrained by the facts of the case. Contributors include Vaanessa de Sade, Sarah Morrison, Betsy van Die, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro and Sally Spedding.

Cummulatively, they propose numerous possible identities, some already suggested by historians, others more speculative, including some famous names from history and fiction – even Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are on the case!

Thoughts

You know from the very beginning that this collection is going to be quite twisted. I mean, it’s a collection of 40 stories about Jack the Ripper. That is never going to be a nice collection. But it was an incredibly interesting one. One that I’m incredibly glad I read and found very difficult to put down.

I’m glad that I read The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper before reading this. It made a few things make a little more sense as I read these short stories. Plus, there were SO many different takes on the events of 1888. Or adaptations to modern day society. It filled my head with a lot of wonderful information.

After reading this, I know even more about Jack the Ripper. I’m not actually sure that this is such a good thing. Because wow. There’s a reason why he’s (or maybe she’s) such a notorious killer. There are just so many things that are known and not known…

 <- The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper ReviewBertie Review ->
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In the Wake of the Autumn Storm by Adrian Cole

Overview
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Title: In the Wake of the Autumn Storm
Author: Adrian Cole
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Historical fiction
Dates read: 30th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Could be complete tosh, or it might allow us to blot a few escutcheons.

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Synopsis

Do you ever wonder what happened to the Ripper? Dolly is happy to provide you with the true, far more sinister story.

Thoughts

This story was incredibly beautiful. Which is a weird word to use, because it’s a story about Jack the Ripper. It’s also incredibly twisty and turny – which makes far more sense considering the stories topic and subject. But it’s this twisty and turny nature that makes it such a beautifully intriguing story.

In the Wake of the Autumn Storm is incredibly deprived. Horrifyingly so. And that depravation has nothing to do with the actual Ripper. It’s got to do with the woman whose telling the story and what happens around her. And to her. It’s just depraved.

This short story is the tale of the Ripper, his demise and the ultimate reveal at the end. Which was quite a good little surprise. One that even made me smile after I turned the final page.

 <- Trespass ReviewThe Mammoth Book of Kaiju Review ->
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Trespass by Sally Spedding

Overview
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Title: Trespass
Author: Sally Spedding
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Historical fiction
Dates read: 29th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Pani Bielski, good morning.

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Synopsis

She teaches young boys in the Jewish quarter of Whitechapel. And when she realises what a monster she’s teaching… things begin to go pearshaped.

Thoughts

I seem to have really enjoyed origin stories this year. Something about them completely draws me in and I like the way that a well-known character can be seen as an immature being. This origins story was a lot freakier. Because it was the beginning of Jack the Ripper. When he was a small child and everyone else ignored what he was becoming. So much, much creepier.

There was somehow something much more terrifying about this Ripper story. Probably because it was a small child. Children as killers and budding sociopaths freaks me out. Which is probably why I don’t like dolls (but that’s a conversation for another day). Using a small boy in this made me cringe in abject horror and feel incredibly, intensely uncomfortable.

At the conclusion of this story, I literally got up, and went and found my dog. The big one. That weighs almost two thirds of my weight… and gave him a huge, gigantic hug. It made me feel just a little bit better.

 <- The Ripper is You ReviewIn the Wake of the Autumn Storm Review ->
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The Ripper is You by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

Overview
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Title: The Ripper is You
Author: Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
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, Mental health
Dates read: 26th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Polly appears at 2.22 a.m., right on schedule, and clearly the worse for wear.

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Synopsis

Each victim is a unique experience. And a unique show of his psychosis.

Thoughts

I’m really not sure of this short story. I loved the premise, but actually reading it… I just couldn’t get involved in the storyline. Having said that, something about the writing actually makes you feel like you’re in the story. Somehow immersed into the reality. Which is completely the point. And it’s got something to do with the weird cadence in which the story is actually written. It’s a very different pacing, as I said though… it’s a pacing that didn’t quite draw me in as much as I would have liked.

This is incredibly dark and intense. And it focuses in tightly on the murders in a way that I haven’t experienced before. Yet, the part about this pinpoint lighting that I enjoyed the most was the beginning of each section. There is a brief psychological analysis of what each of these murders represents at the beginning. One that makes you view what was done to each body in a different light. Or at least, that’s how it felt for me.

There’s a twist at the end of this short story. One that I’m not really convinced I was able to totally understand. I think I probably need to read this tale when I’m a little bit alert. But I love twists, so I appreciated it’s presence. Even if I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on…

 <- Madame X ReviewTrespass Review ->
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Madame X by Nicky Peacock

Overview
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Title: Madame X
Author: Nicky Peacock
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime
Dates read: 19th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: A sweet second of elation shuddered through the doctor’s body, then he realized the horror of what had just happened.

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Synopsis

The doctor has been called to see a patient. What he finds in the depths of a whorehouse is nothing like what he expected. It will become his worst nightmare. Maybe the Ripper isn’t so bad after all…

Thoughts

I’m getting towards the end of The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories. And surprisingly, I hadn’t actually read any stories which featured Jack as a hero. Or made an attempt at justifying his actions beyond exploring the idea of him being clinically insane. It was really fun to read a story which does this. Fun, interesting and a great new way to look at the reality.

I read a lot of books and stories which feature sex in some way, shape or form. This is the first one that made me feel so incredibly squirly. There was just something about the descriptiveness of some of the acts. And since it involved an insane, rabid prostitute… they weren’t comfortable descriptions. Or sexy in any way, shape or form.

Although I liked the angle that this story took, I didn’t really enjoy it. There was a little too much rutting throughout the story to make it one that I would feel comfortable with. There was nothing about the passions of sex in this. It was just… so wrong in so many ways.

 <- Autumn of Terror ReviewThe Ripper is You Review ->
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Autumn of Terror by C.L. Raven

Overview
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Title: Autumn of Terror
Author: C.L. Raven
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Horror
Dates read: 17th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Even the gas lamps were scared to venture into the alleyways that sneaked through London like blackened veins through the devil’s dark heart.

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Synopsis

A lot of people like to go on serial killer tours. But, this tour about the Autumn of Terror is more than a little different. And the tour guide? Don’t follow him into a dark alley at night…

Thoughts

This so far has been one of the least graphic short stories in the The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories collection. Yet, the idea of an immortal Ripper recommitting his acts every night… that makes it one of the most terrifying tales in this collection. I like to imagine immortality being granted to the good and the just, not the evil and sadistic. But that might just be a personal preference.

Although this story is written from the point of view of the actual killer, it is filled with maybes. Rather than saying that this person did this because of this, the voice says maybe I did it because of this. Maybe because of that. Plus, although he states that everyone on the tour circuit knows the true face of the killer, there is absolutely no description. The vague ambiguity of this really helps to add to a feeling of mystery. The mystery that has surrounded the most famous serial killer for generations.

In the past I have briefly considered going on a Ripper tour. This has cured me of that. There was just something a little too intense about it. And although I’m sure I want see the murders occur again and again like they do in this… maybe I don’t actually want to give such a horrifying man the power of my attention. Even this many years later. But, you know, first I actually have to get to England…

 <- Signed Confession ReviewMadame X Review ->
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Signed Confession by Martin Feekins

Overview
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Title: Signed Confession
Author: Martin Feekins
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Gender, Historical fiction
Dates read: 12th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: In the interests of equal rights, I am going home and you can finish the work here, work that can be done equally well by a man as by a woman.

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Synopsis

Twenty-two years have passed since the last Jack the Ripper murder and change is in the air. But when one woman’s walk home quickly turns sinister, she discovers that the darkness might not have completely left her city.

Thoughts

This short story takes place twenty-two years after the final canon Ripper murder. Unlike all of the other stories in this collection which take place in either modern-day society or at the time of the murders. It was nice to have a story that not only left you with an idea of some of the scars left on the city, but also with a bit of an ending to the Ripper tale.

Jack the Ripper is the most famous of serial killers. He’s the one that is known across the world in almost every household. Even if you don’t even know what he did, you know the name. Which meant that it was kind of beautifully poetic that throughout this story… it’s kind of about him not having that immortality. There is a chance that his true identity will be revealed. But rather than allowing that, the lead female decides that it’s better if some things are kept secret.

This story also highlights that turning of women’s rights. The beginning stirrings of fighting for a right to vote, a right to exist, and a right to be. It’s only touched upon, but it’s enough of a story line that you don’t want to forget about it.

 <- Bluebeard’s Wife ReviewAutumn of Terror Review ->
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Bluebeard’s Wife by Catherine Lundoff

Overview
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Title: Bluebeard’s Wife
Author: Catherine Lundoff
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Gender
Dates read: 9th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: He would have to brew another tonic for her and try again.

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Synopsis

He’s just trying to teach his wife and maids a lesson… luckily they find a way to teach him one too.

Thoughts

This short story seriously highlights the archaic and incredibly disturbed ideas that some people have about women. Or at least, the leading theory of the day in which Jack the Ripper was stalking the streets of Whitechapel. And somehow, reading a voice that found a way to completely justify his actions… far more terrifying than a mad man. A mad man is sick. The Ripper in this version just thought he was doing his husbandly duties… so many levels of not okay.

I actually really struggled to get through this short story. it focused on the idea that female flesh is corrupted and serves to corrupt. It’s not the first time I’ve come across this theory and attitude. But it doesn’t get any more palatable no matter how many times I read it… there is just something extra disturbed about such an idea.

Having said all of that, I would still recommend that people read this. Because the ending to this story is brilliant. And it made me feel so much better about all the horrible thoughts and feelings I was going through as the story unfolded.

 <- The Monster’s Leather ReviewSigned Confession Review ->
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The Monster’s Leather Apron by Adrian Ludens

Overview
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Title: The Monster’s Leather Apron
Author: Adrian Ludens
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Thriller
Dates read: 5th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: He concentrated on the drifting sensation that now buoyed him, curled in his murky womb.

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Synopsis

Edward is just trying to teach these women how they should be… or at least, that’s what he thinks. Then he has to flee the country with his leather apron. When a tribesman begs for his help, he finds the perfect partner in crime.

Thoughts

This short story definitely didn’t end the way that I anticipated. Actually, I sat there in my living room in a feeling of kind of suspended horror… there was just something scary about the Ripper hooking up with a cannibal. “Teaching” the women of their sins… like I said, suspended horror at the conclusion of this.

The beginning of this story highlights brilliantly Edward’s madness. There is no motive to his actions throughout. Or at least, not an obvious enough one for me to feel settled… but, it does go a long way to explaining the obsessive needs and tendencies of this incredibly creepy man.

There is a point in this story at which you think Edward, the villain, is going to die. And it makes you happy. Even though this story is told from his POV, there is nothing redeemable about this character. You’ll be disappointed. He doesn’t die… he lives… and tortures and dances around the streets in his creepy leather apron…

 <- Knowledge of Medicine ReviewBluebeard’s Wife Review ->
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Knowledge of Medicine by Erin N. Kennemer

Overview
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Title: Knowledge of Medicine
Author: Erin N. Kennemer
In: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Maxim Jakubowski)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Historical fiction
Dates read: 25th November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: And it just kept shining.

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Synopsis

Women are being attacked and no one cares. Until a midwife with a sister in the business starts mutilating the corpses. Will the price for her interference be too high?

Thoughts

Prostitutes seem to feature really highly in unsolved crimes. Or as the victims of serial killers. This short story definitely highlights the reasons why – people just don’t care about this part of the population. Or at least, those in Whitechapel during the murders certainly didn’t. This was immediately highlighted in this tale and definitely made me feel guilty for some of my lack of awareness of some of the modern-day versions of this.

I did love that this story wasn’t so much about the killer, but about the victims. The woman who is featured isn’t actually a murderer at all. But she’s the reason for the belief that The Ripper was a doctor – she’s a midwife and the one mutilating the bodies. She’s also responsible for the letters. Both key aspects that told people a serial killer was on the loose. I actually really liked this form of vigilante justice. Alright, it’s off-kilter and incredibly uncomfortable, but it actually makes sense.

The ending to this story is really tragic. It acted as a reminder as to the final act of the Ripper and highlights the fact the protagonist in this story was the one who was bringing attention to the serial killer. When her will is broken, her chores are. It leaves you with a really horrifying belief that he might have actually kept on killing long after Mary.

 <- Monkeys ReviewThe Monster’s Leather Apron Review ->
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