Jack the Ripper: Case Closed

Written by Gyles Brandreth
Review by Douglas Kemp

This is the seventh in Brandreth’s popular series featuring Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. Having met in 1889, these rather different personalities became firm friends and got involved in solving a number of criminal cases. For the creator of Sherlock Holmes, this was perhaps no surprise, but for the more mercurial talents of Oscar Wilde, this particular ability was rather more astonishing, though he has used his razor-sharp intellect and wit to investigate and solve their various cases.

It is New Year 1894, and Chief Constable McNaghten of Scotland Yard requests the assistance of Wilde and Conan Doyle in re-examining the unsolved Whitechapel murders of so-called Jack the Ripper. There is a shocking violent murder of an elderly woman near Wilde’s London home in Tite Street, Chelsea, and Wilde and Conan Doyle investigate the case, speaking to the major suspects. There is an ingenious solution in unmasking the identity of the notorious Ripper which is done in traditional style, with Wilde unfolding the truth at supper to a table of the main suspects and characters involved in the case. Wilde acts almost like the Holmes to Conan Doyle’s rather more pedestrian Watson, and produces a stream of epigrams and witticisms, many of which are already familiar. It is an easy and interesting read with enough clues distributed to allow the reader to have a bash at the solution.