Mick Brown in the Sydney Morning Herald:
“I honestly think,” Bruce Robinson says, “I've nailed the horrible f—er.” He points to the photograph on the desk. A Victorian gent. Moustachio'd, dressed in a black frock coat, silk trimming on the lapels; a black cravat with a decorative pin. A certain understated style. An artist of some sort, perhaps? The expression blandly neutral – although looking closely there is something a little unsettling in the gaze, a certain cold indifference. But perhaps that's one's own projection.
So that, I say, is Jack the Ripper.
Robinson nods. “It is.”
Robinson is probably best known for writing and directing the 1987 film Withnail and I – a black comedy about two impecunious actors who go on holiday in the Lake District, “by mistake”. In 1985 he was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay for The Killing Fields. More recently he scripted and directed The Rum Diary, starring his friend Johnny Depp.
But for much of the past 15 years he has been absorbed in an extraordinary – and, frankly, improbable – quest. The identity of the man who was responsible for the horrific murders of five women in the East End of London over a nine-week period in 1888 remains one of the great mysteries in British criminal history. Robinson is convinced he has solved it.
This month sees the publication of They All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper. More than 800 pages in length, it is the fruit of intense, one might say obsessive, dedication. “I thought it would take me two years – a year to research and a year to write,” Robinson sighs. “Had I known – truly known – then what I know now, I would never have started.”