Portrait Of A Killer Patricia Cornwell

Jan Leeming

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Portrait of a Killer - Patricia Cornwell

Date: 7th January 2014


Normally I probably wouldn't be interested in reading a book of this nature but, as I participated in a documentary in 1988 about Jack the Ripper, I thought it woul be an informative read as indeed it was.

In 1988, the centenary of the notorious Ripper murders in the East End of London, I was invited to be the 'field reporter' here in London for an American company making a documentary as to 'WHO' was Jack the Ripper. I had to go to the murder sites and make my report. I still remember one of the areas and even though it was a bright and sunny day, there was a chill in the air and the hairs on my arms stood on end.

In the course of the filming I interviewed the late Colin Wilson (an expert on the Ripper),and also the Curator of the Black Museum at Scotland Yard. The format of the programme was that Peter Ustinov was to be the Linkman in America where a panel of judges, forensic scientists, criminologists etc. would be presented with the evidence and would then, based on the facts presented, decide who they thought was the Ripper out of a list of six.

It's years since I watched the documentary and I can't check because I'm not at home, but I think out of all the suspects, including the Duke of Clarence and Queen Victoria's surgeon, they came down on the Polish man Kosminsky as the potential Ripper. Having read Cornwell's book, she presents an almost watertight case for the Ripper having been the painter Walter Sickert. The book is fascinating and gives great insight into the mind of a pyschopath.

As a little aside. Although I was working in the UK, there was to have been no opportunity of meeting Peter Ustinov. However, in a break between films, he was back in London and agreed to meet the Producer and myself. Even though he was suffering with a toothache he was a magnificent host and regaled us with story after story. If only I'd had a small personal recording machine!!!!!!! Today it would present no problem. It is an evening I remember with great happiness and I only wish I'd actually got a memento from it. After that meeting, I went to the show 'An Evening with Peter Ustinov' and went backstage afterwards. The Commissionaire asked my husband and myself to wait for a while because he had another guest - that turned out to be Joan Collins. Another great evening to remember.

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