Leonard Matters - The Mystery Of Jack The Ripper (Arrow, 1964: Originally Hutchinson, 1929)
"My son, he died - a hopeless wreck. A victim of the night life of London. Ruined by a woman. Science could do nothing for him. He died an idiot, and all my hopes died with him. Yes, perhaps I went mad. I swore to avenge him. I murdered all those women!".
At 192 pages, It reads like a great, brisk pulp novel, but this is one of the first "factual" books devoted to the Whitechapel murders and served as the basis for the '59 Jack The Ripper, although the movie's Grand Guignol, crushed-to-death-in-a-lift-shaft climax is entirely Jimmy Sangster's invention.
Matters identifies the Ripper ... by another pseudonym, 'Dr. Stanley', an eminent London surgeon who confessed to the crimes as he lay dying in a Beunos Aires hospital. Needless to say, there's not a shred of evidence to support this beyond the author's conviction that he's got the right man.
As part of his research, Matters goes walkabout in Spitalfield, and it's in these episodes he really scores, as all of the murder sites were still standing - just - at the time.
"At the time of my first visit to the neighbourhood, most of the houses on the left side of [Dorset] Street were being demolished. The house in which Kelly was murdered was closed, save for one front room still occupied by a dreadful-looking slattern who came out of Millers Court and blinked at me.
When she saw me focus my camera to get a picture of the front of the house, the old hag swore at me, and shuffled away down the passage."
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty. - Christine Campbell Thomson