L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Cover of Hallie Rubenhold's The Five. Woman seen from the back in Victorian clothing on a cobblestone street.

I generally dislike “true” crime books, but Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five is an exception. Rubenhold explores the lives of five victims of Jack the Ripper, chronicling their lives up to the moments before they are killed. Rubenhold was criticized by “Ripperologists” for her unusual approach, but I found it quite informative. In exploring the victims’ lives, The Five paints an extremely harsh picture of daily life in the Victorian era. The Kirkus Reviews writeup is hereThe New York Times review is here.

The hardback is out of print, but the paperback version is available at Vroman’s in Pasadena, and, of course, Amazon

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Books and Authors, Cold Cases and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

  1. E. Yarber says:

    I’m currently engrossed by THE FIVE myself, and just finished the Elizabeth Stride section before coming online and finding your post on it. It’s virtually a looking-glass account of the murders, focusing on all the details generally omitted in books focusing on the killer rather than the victims. Given that the general approach to the case treats it as almost an abstract puzzle, the biographical viewpoint here struck me as far grimmer and haunting (not to mention heartbreaking) than a forensic focus on women typically introduced to us as corpses.

    I plan to pull Henry Mayhew’s book on London poverty off the shelf afterward. Though he documented the same environment a generation or two earlier, conditions certainly hadn’t improved by the end of the century, and I somehow can’t leave those dark streets just yet.


    • lmharnisch says:

      It’s a powerful account of life among the underclasses of that era. I like it because it focuses on the victims rather than treating the murders like an intellectual puzzle — Hey! What unsolved murder does THAT sound like?


  2. Matt Berger says:

    This looks like a very interesting book.

    In 2013, I wrote a series of Facebook posts acknowledging the 125th anniversary of deaths of these women; I actually began with Martha Tabram/Tabran on August 6, 1888, who I tentatively conclude was also a victim of “Jack.” My point was to observee these had been actual women, with actual lives, who were killed – not mererly investigative data points. And – it is always good to acknowledge “Jack” did not live in a vacuum, but was very likely the product of his own underserved environment.

    If you are interested, I wrote more about “Jack” here:



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