The sequel to the award winning 'A Study in Red - The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper'
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Legacy of The Ripper
Jack Thomas Reid, nephew of Robert Cavendish who first appeared in A Study in Red - The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper languishes in the secure Ravenswood Psychiatric Hospital, sentenced to confinement 'at Her Majesty's Pleasure' for a series of apparent 'Jack the Ripper' copycat killings in the picturesque English coastal resort of Brighton. Jack's defence at his trial, that he is a descendant of Jack the Ripper and that the crimes were conducted by an unknown 'mystery man' and that Jack was drugged and made to appear as the killer was regarded as so preposterous and unbelievable that his sentence was never in doubt. When one of the policemen who conducted the original investigation into the murders begins to doubt the truth of the case against Reid, Sergeant Carl Wright and Ripperologist Alice Nickels begin an investigation into his story. What they find is told through the voice of Doctor Ruth Truman, Jack's psychiatrist at Ravenswood, and through a series of events that take place as far afield as the beautiful island of Malta and in Warsaw, Poland. Slowly but surely and with the help of Wright's boss Inspector Mike Holland, the link between the events that shocked and terrorised Whitechapel over a century ago, and their link with the case of Jack Thomas Reid and the 'Legacy of Jack the Ripper' is revealed.
My Name is Jack, A Statement by the Patient.
When did it start? That’s what they all want to know. Doctor Ruth is always asking me:
"When did it start? What are your earliest recollections of these feelings?"
I keep telling her the same as I’m telling you all now. It’s hard to put a time or a place on when it began, though I was young, very young, maybe four or five years old when I first realised I was ’different’ to other children of my age. Even then I knew that my life was mapped out ahead of me, that I had a destiny to fulfil. At such a tender age, of course, it was impossible for me to comprehend what that destiny was. Only much later did I realise that I was being guided by a hand far more powerful than mine, one whose intelligence and guile was such that I had no doubts, when the time came, of the course of action I must take.
I was different you see, different from all of those children who made my life a misery, the ones who called me names because I didn’t want to join in their silly games, or take part in stupid group activities after school. When I was very young, I didn’t know that I held the power and the means within me to put an end to their taunting and name calling. Only when I reached the age of nine did I suddenly make a stand against those silly, laughing, taunting voices. That was the day when a group of children cornered me in the school playground, out of sight of the watchful teachers and playground assistants. Somehow, they’d heard about my regular visits to the child psychologist. My going in itself wasn’t a secret of course. They all knew that I had to attend regular doctor’s appointments, but, as happens from time to time, word spread around the school about the real reason for my appointments.
"Bloodsucker, Dracula, do you eat your meat raw, Jack Reid?" they shouted in a cacophony of screeching, childish screams.
"He’s a vampire, he sucks the blood from living cats, that’s what I’ve heard," screeched Andrew Denning, one of the ringleaders of the haranguing group.
"You’re a weirdo, Reid, that’s what you are," Camilla Hunt shouted in my face.
I’d had enough. As Denning came closer to scream in my face once again, I waited until he was within touching distance, and, quick as a flash, I grabbed my tormentor with both hands, one either side of his face, and pulled him close to me. He struggled as I bent my head to the side and the others screamed in panic, but no-one came to his aid as my teeth sunk deeply into his flesh, biting hard on the tender mass of sinews and muscle that made up his ear. That was when the loudest scream of all erupted, this time from Andrew Denning himself, as I pulled my head back from his to reveal a large chunk of his ear still stuck between my teeth. Blood pumped from the side of the boy’s head and the other children stood screaming, rooted to the spot in their fear and fascination. In seconds the sound of an adult voice could be heard shouting,
"What’s all this commotion? If you boys have been fighting I’ll….Oh my God! Jack! What have you done?"
Miss Plummer almost fainted on the spot, but, to her credit, she maintained her equilibrium enough to send two of the other children running for help. How she did it I can’t remember, but she made me open my mouth long enough for her to retrieve the bitten remains of Andrew Denning’s ear, which she quickly wrapped in a handkerchief she pulled from a pocket in the side of her skirt. The others were quickly dismissed and Miss Plummer stayed with me and Andrew, who continued to scream until another teacher arrived and escorted him away. Soon afterwards a car disappeared through the school gates carrying the injured boy to the hospital. I learned afterwards that the doctors had sewn what they could of his ear back together, but in truth it would never look right again, and Andrew Denning I’m sure will never forget our encounter. I say that because I only heard these things second-hand. After that incident the headmaster summoned my parents to the school and I was removed from that particular place of education and sent to what is laughingly called a ’special school’, where children with ’special needs’ are taught. I thought it odd at the time, that no-one really seemed to appreciate what my own peculiar ’special needs’ were.
It wasn’t until much later that I would begin to realise just where my life was heading, and what I was destined to fulfil, just after my eighteenth birthday in fact, my ’coming of age’ as they call it. That was when things really began to fall into place in my mind, and that is why you and all those who follow you, and Doctor Ruth especially, will never, ever forget me. I’m sorry, I’ve been remiss. Perhaps I should introduce myself before going any further. My name is Jack, Jack Thomas Reid, and this is the letter that began everything that transpired after that fateful day when I received my legacy from Uncle Robert.
To my dearest nephew, Jack,
This testament, the journal, and all the papers that accompany it are yours upon my death, as they became mine upon my father’s death. Your Aunt Sarah and I were never fortunate enough to have children of our own, so it is with a heavy heart that I write this note to accompany these pages. Had I any alternative, I would spare you the curse of our family’s deepest secret, or perhaps I should say, secrets! Having read what you are about to read, I had neither the courage to destroy it, nor to reveal the secrets contained within these pages. I beg you, as my father begged me, to read the journal and the notes that go with it, and be guided by your conscience and your intelligence in deciding what course of action to take when you have done so. Whatever you decide to do, dear nephew, I beg you, do not judge those who have gone before you too harshly, for the curse of the journal you are about to read is as real as these words I now write to you.
Be safe, Jack, but be warned.
Your loving uncle,
As for the rest, I suggest you go and talk to Doctor Ruth. She’s the expert after all.