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Book Review – On The Trail Of The Yorkshire Ripper – His Final Secrets Revealed.

Pen and Sword Books once again very kindly recently sent me a book that I had long known was being created, long since known was due for release soon – and one that I had long eagerly awaited, for it concerns the subject that I can pinpoint as the true genesis of my enthusiasm for true crime:

Author Richard Charles Cobb has spent countless time researching the case of Peter Sutcliffe – and I do mean countless time, to produce a book entitled “ON THE TRAIL OF THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER: HIS FINAL SECRETS REVEALED” I had seen snippets from the book shared over social media by the author for some time now – and I was already impressed with what I read. As I have said before in reviews, I will buy one, two, ten books concerning the same subject if one contains more detail, or a different spin on the case than the others – I don’t believe any library should, or even can be finite. The Ripper case was the proper one that gripped me and set me on the course to be the Enthusiast that I am today, so it was always a book I was getting. And this book is a prime example of that.

So as I do always with any review, I’m good and honest, and I shall point out my own personal pros and cons with On The Trail Of The Yorkshire Ripper. It must have been a daunting task to write about such a well-known case, I mean, Sutcliffe’s tale is almost folklore now, so kudos must go to Richard for his work – a real labour of love there. And he should be proud of his labours indeed. Perhaps I write this from a position that differs to many, as I myself have studied the Ripper case for years – I have all of the books there is to have, and whilst I’m certainly no expert on the subject, I like to think I’m knowledgeable enough about the case to hold a decent and informed conversation about it.

Well, I’d find myself listening to Richard.

The best that I can sum it up is thus – this book is a perfect text for someone who came along and had never heard of The Yorkshire Ripper. It’s obvious how Richard knows the case inside out, and has excellently and correctly absorbed the salient details that authors such as Gordon Burn, David Yallop and Michael Bilton have presented in their own accounts of the case, put together a comprehensive, easily readable account – and then added his own details for a superbly slick finish. It’s the details that have made the book for me, as – and I don’t mean this unfairly, but with any book on the Ripper case, I’m personally going over long covered ground – I found myself learning snippets about the case that I didn’t know – colours of victim’s clothing, names of public houses – that kind of thing.

Each chapter focuses upon Sutcliffe’s canonical victims in chronological order, and accounts each individual case in a very readable, comprehensive style, with excellent detailing. There is also a staggering 24 pages of photographs concerning the case within the book – always an attractive point – and many of these are unfamiliar photographs, including sketch plans and photographs of crime scenes, pictures of Sutcliffe following his arrest, and pictures of officers concerned with the case. The book is nicely rounded off with an epilogue that denotes an explanation – albeit in brief – behind all of the major headlines that the Ripper case has created since Sutcliffe’s incarceration 38 years ago, and contains a decent bibliography that would point any new student to the Ripper case in the right direction for further reading.

What I have personally loved about On The Trail Of The Yorkshire Ripper, aside from the fresh details about the case revealed that I didn’t know, are the obvious references that Richard has actually steeped himself in the research and visited the scenes involved, where it’s been available for him to, so you know what the places concerned are like today, if places have been demolished or damaged – how they look, to the exact point. I respect and commend that, it’s excellent.

I have very little I can criticise about On The Trail Of The Yorkshire Ripper – I haven’t written a book myself after all, so am writing as a reader here. If I had to say anything, and I shall, because it struck me and I believe an honest review is the only one you can give, I felt that the foreword to the book – some four pages – went on about the author of the said foreword far too much, and it was only the final line of the review where Richard’s work was endorsed – I didn’t find that necessary at all. Aside from this slight, it’s an extremely detailed, very comprehensive, and at just over 200 pages, not daunting to read, next important addition to any student of true crime’s library.


The Yorkshire Ripper.


Book Reviews

One thought on “Book Review – On The Trail Of The Yorkshire Ripper – His Final Secrets Revealed. Leave a comment

  1. Excellent and sensitively-handled review Paul, just like you the Ripper case was my induction to the annals of true crime (when I was just 10 years old!) and having likewise read every other book on the subject (Burn, Yallop, Bilton, Cross, Clark/Tate, etc) this sounds like a very worthy addition to the canon. I shall be picking it up ASAP x


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