New Edition of Macpherson Book

Macpherson, Euan. The Trial of Jack the Ripper [updated edition]. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, [2018].

A 2018 update of Euan Macpherson’s 2005 The Trial of Jack the Ripper is now available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon. The book includes a foreword by Sue Black, the anatomist and forensic anthropologist, formerly of the University of Dundee, who last year oversaw William Bury’s mock retrial for the murder of his wife. The 2018 edition features two new chapters of material. In “William Bury’s Statements in the Custody of Dundee Police,” Macpherson compares the reports of Lieutenant James Parr and Detective David Lamb, both of whom spoke to Bury, and uses this comparison to assess the account that Bury provided to the police. In “The Burial of the Truth,” Macpherson takes aim at what he regards as myths and legends that have arisen around Bury. For example, Macpherson dismisses the claim made by executioner James Berry that Bury had once worked as a butcher of horses and had opened a cats’ meat shop, citing, among other things, a lack of corroborating evidence, as well as Bury’s reputation as a “loafer.” Apart from these two chapters, the book is largely a reprint of the 2005 book. Macpherson tweaks and adds to the text here and there (for example, he further details his suggestion that Elizabeth Long mistook Bury’s Midlands accent to be a foreign accent), but there are no significant changes. In a few respects the book remains dated. While Macpherson does correct Bury’s time of birth to May, 1859, he appears to be unaware of the detailed signature evidence linking Bury to the Jack the Ripper murders, and in discussing the timing of Bury’s trip to Wolverhampton during the summer of 1888, he does not seem to know about the Express and Star newspaper article that placed Bury at a race track in Wolverhampton in mid-August. His account of the Whitechapel murders also continues to be inadequate (e.g., there is no mention at all of Israel Schwartz in the chapter about the murder of Elizabeth Stride). What Macpherson has provided about Bury and his trial, however, is generally very good, and his book is rightly regarded with esteem by many Ripperologists.