Jack the Ripper. The Seduction of Mary Kelly by William J Perring

The Seduction of Mary Kelly
Final Victim of Jack the Ripper






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Reviewer: Ken Whiteway. Canada


With a handful of exceptions, I am not generally a fan of fictionalized accounts of the Whitechapel murders. I bought this book earlier in the summer but, because it's a hefty tome, I waited until I was on vacation to read it so it could be digested in uninterrupted large chunks.

William Perring is obviously well acquainted with the facts surrounding the JtR mystery and he weaves them into a marvellously entertaining tale. He has a fine eye for detail, a good ear for dialogue, and has created a sprawling, Hardy-esque novel of a doomed heroine that is, by turns, both chilling and heart wrenching.

The ingenious plot explains all the elements of the story of MJK's life as she supposedly related it to Joseph Barnett and Mrs. Carthy. Perring's novel also cleverly explains such things as why MJK went to Paris, why she moved to the East End, and who Caroline Maxwell spoke to on the morning of November 9th. The denouement is clever and inventive: it employs elements of theories that we have heard before, but they are combined in an innovative way, along with a couple of unexpected (for me, anyway) plot twists.

Not the least attractive aspect of this book is the ethereal beauty of the model on the dust jacket who represents MJK. Apparently Perring is responsible for this as well --- obviously a man of many talents.

Perring is a perceptive writer with a deft touch. Names such as Catherine Eddowes, Joe Barnett, and especially MJK, really come alive in these pages.

You'll be sorry if you miss this one.

Amazon Customer Review

Reviewer: C. Atkins (England) 

Stunning, simply stunning

I had this book on my wishlist for sometime and finally brought it when the price was right. Thank goodness i did!
This wonderful novel is one of the best books i've ever read. It tells the story of an ordinary, young Welsh girl destined to live an extraordinary life. It is long(590 pages), but the story is so gripping it never drags and there isn't a single paragraph or sentence that i would trim down. I read this in bed at night and an intended quick 15-min read would invariably turn into an hour!

This book will take you through the full gamut of emotions-joy, fear, love, sadness, horror. It is a book not about crime but about people, good and bad, kind and evil. It is hard to get across in this review how well written this book really is; every character, minor or integral, graces the page with their presence and brings Mary's world to life.

You don't have to be a Ripper expert to read this (any lover of fiction will find this a brilliant read), but if you are a budding ripperologist(as i am!) then you will recognize and appreciate the many traces of Ripper lore that run through this book. Quite a number of times i nodded my head in recognition of a character, or an event, and there were times where i felt a chill shiver down my spine!

If you want a well written, well researched book, with a gripping plot full of highs and lows, ups and downs then please get this!

Ps. I would love to see this book turned into a 9 or 10-part tv mini-series.
Pps. It is almost impossible to believe that this is the author's first novel. Absolute genius at work!

Amazon Customer Review

Reviewer: kathrynelm from United Kingdom

I was gripped from beginning to end and I can't get Mary out of my head. I do read a lot and The Seduction of Mary Kelly is the best book I have purchased in a long time. It is not often that I do read a book and struggle to get the characters out of my head, I was bitterly disappointed when I got to the last chapter as I would have loved it to go on and on. The twist at the end is remarkable and well put together. You get a real feel for the life Mary led and the hurdles she had to endure and overcome. I would have no problem recommending this book to anyone, it is not to be missed.

Amazon Customer Review

Reviewer: George Horwood

A well-researched combination of thriller and love story that takes the reader to London, Paris, Wales and America: gripping from the first page.

Amazon Customer Review

Reviewer: D. Bloke from England

An absolutely rivetting book, intriguing from start to finish. This is a superbly crafted novel, with historically accurate events intertwined with fascinating twists and turns throughout. Compelling reading. I couldn't put it down. Amazing and unexpected climax. Would thoroughly recommend this book. Can't wait for the film!

Amazon Customer Review

Reviewer: Mickey Mayhew London UK

Don't be put off by the size of the book, because in this instance big really is best. This is a great read whether you're familiar with the subject matter - Jack the Ripper's alleged final victim - or just looking for a ripping (excuse the pun) period read. It documents the life of Mary Kelly, the most elusive of the canonical victims - no pictures of her exist apart from her awful crime scene photograph - leading her to be perhaps the most romanticised of the victims. With painstaking research Bill Perring has woven together from a variety of disparate sources an impeccably drawn picture of what is known of her life, never forgetting that these anecdotes came from Kelly herself; all or none may be true. This vagueness is part of the appeal of Mary Kelly, as you watch the awful downward trajectory of a fairly settled domestic life in Wales, to high class and finally gutter prostitution in Whitechapel. The ending is of course a true jaw on the floor moment. Essential Ripper fiction, it's the sort of book that you can expect to see on celluloid before too long.

Amazon Customer Review

Reviewer: Brian L Porter Yorkshire

An Awesome Debut Novel - A Rivetting Read!
I've just finished reading Bill Perring's wonderful book! I have to say that I was captivated from start to finish. I loved the characterizations, the settings, and the storyline was just superb. This is a beautifully written and wonderfully crafted book, with a storyline that is wholly believeable, and I was truly sad to have reached the end.

Bill Perring has captured the sights and sounds and even the smells of Victorian London to such an extent that I felt I was there, in the thick of the action as this truly memorable story progressed. The mingling of fact and fiction was so seamlessly put together that it was hard to know where one ended and the other began, a truly remarkable achievement.

'The Seduction of Mary Kelly' is a must read, not just for Ripperologists, but for anyone who enjoys a thoroughly good novel. It will appeal both to serious ripperologists and to the casual reader of fictional works on the subject. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book, and I would urge anyone who hasn't yet read it to get their copy as soon as possible.

From one author to another I would like to say, "Well done sir. Your book is a triumph!"

Amazon Customer Review

Reviewer: Zefrau Newark Delaware USA

The Seduction of Mary Kelly is a gripping novel that is both well written and cleverly crafted. A reader has to appreciate the amount of research that went into the writing of this book and the way it seamlessly weaves the Jack the Ripper narrative into it. With its sympathetic and well-rounded characters, it is a story that will surely appeal to those familiar with the Ripper case or not.

Highly recommended--one of the best books I've read in a long time.

The Ripperologist. Issue 61

The Seduction of Mary Kelly starts well enough, a little unimaginative perhaps – a terminally ill old man in hospital confiding in his nurse and producing a yellowed manuscript – but the writing style is engaging and carries you into the story so that before you know it you’re over the initial groan as lost Ripper diaries flood your mind, and the book turns into something that’s really quite good.

Basically, nurse Beth Williams tends the dying James Hawkins in a Hollywood hospital and develops a friendship with the old man, a once famous star of silent movies. The old man eventually dies, but before he does so he gives Beth a handwritten manuscript – the journal of Mary Kelly. Now, the story of Mary’s life is good, her childhood, her teacher – the unlikeable Mr Griffiths who one instinctively feels needs to be ‘talked to’ in some quiet corner – her mining home, brothers, white-aproned matriarch, and so on all being faintly reminiscent of How Green Was My Valley and the concluding search for a grave is a little like the end of Clive Cussler’s Raise The Titanic. And in saying this I mean no criticism, rather that Perring writes well enough to bear comparison with Richard Llewellyn and Clive Cussler.

The story follows the ‘known’ career of Mary Kelly with all the familiar faces emerging as flesh and blood characters instead of the often one-dimensional figures they appear in the non-fiction books, until… Well, one can’t give the ending away.

William J Perring seems too talented to be likeable. He’s a fine artist - maritime and aviation themes mainly but the excellent drawing on the cover of his book is his work – and musician, and it seems unfair that his talent should extend to turning out a pretty good, albeit hernia producing, novel. You should like this book and it’ll keep you occupied and out of trouble for a while.

Reviewer: Tony Hinks. England

Absolutely fantastic! To receive a novel of such size was quite daunting, but from the moment I opened it the whole experience seemed to flow from start to finish. It definitely comes into that rare category of book that you make time for rather than only picking it up when the time finds you. I loved everything about it, The story, the characters and especially the scene setting. To jump from the priviliged position of Victorian high society to the depths of Whitechapel poverty, it made me feel like I'd received a tatste of what it was really like, no punches pulled.


Reviewer: Sian Friend. Australia

I have been reading this book for years and it's one I always enjoy coming back to and reading again and again. The storyline is very thought-provoking and really draws you in from the beginning. The characters are so well developed, you feel every  ounce of suffering and ill fate they endure, particularly in Mary's case. I would recommend this book to anyone, whether you know much about the subject of Jack the Ripper or not. It truly is a 5 star read.