“Inside Bucks Row” is the first of a number of planned volumes on the Whitechapel Murders by author Steve Blomer. It deals with the first of the Jack the Ripper murders, that of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols in Buck’s Row on 31 August 1888. In his book, Blomer examines all the details surrounding the murder and the murder location. Nichols’ murder has never been examined more thoroughly.
The murder of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols
The autumn of 1888 went down in British history as “the autumn of terror”. From August to November, a serial killer named “Jack the Ripper” murdered five women in London’s East End and was never caught. His first “canonical” murder took place in Buck’s Row, Whitechapel, on 31 August. At around 3:45 am, two workmen, Charles Lechmere and Robert Paul, found the lifeless body of prostitute Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols in front of Brown’s Yard in Buck’s Row.
They decided to tell the next policeman they would meet. In the meantime, Police Constable Neil found the body and called for help and a doctor. Polly’s throat was cut and there were stab wounds in her stomach and her genitals. A small pool of blood had formed underneath her and soaked in her hair and her clothes. At this point, nobody knew that this gruesome murder was still only the beginning of a murder series.
Mystery and misinformation
The Ripper murders are surrounded by mystery and misinformation. All of the murders have been looked at in great detail, but there is always some kind of uncertainty. At which times exactly were the victims seen the last time? When exactly were they found dead? How much time did the killer have to escape? Which possible ways to escape were there at which murder site? There is always speculation going on, simply because no one can answer these questions for certain.
Steven Blomer tries to take all these speculations and different versions of events into account. In his first volume on the Whitechapel murders, he takes a closer look at what really happened in Bucks Row. The first murder of a serial killer is a crucial one. It defines whether his modus operandi works, whether he makes mistakes or whether it works the way he planned it. And although being the first murder, there has often been a greater focus on the other Ripper murders.
Steven Blomer takes a closer look at the murder
Blomer changes that with “Inside Bucks Row”. The Nichols murder has never been analyzed in more detail and Blomer sheds light on some of the obscure circumstances.
The whole book is available only digitally. It includes links to further material, such as maps, (press) reports and websites. Blomer integrates all the sources and material available for his analysis. He takes a look at the beats of the Police during that time and specifically, during that night. When and how could PCs Neil, Thain and Mizen meet each other? Blomer takes a look at the possible escape routes of the killer. Which ones were there and which ones were more plausible than others?
What’s his view on Charles Lechmere?
Of course, Blomer also mentions the suspicion against witness Charles Lechmere, who is seen as a highly likely murder suspect by some. Blomer deals with this theory very matter-of-factly. This is necessary when dealing with a case like this and unfortunately, facts are often interpreted so they fit a certain suspect. Blomer avoids this. He also critically looks at the newspaper reports to find out what is fact and what is fiction.
He also sheds some light on topics that have been debated for years. What really happened at the mortuary? Was there really some kind of “Mizen Scam”? Very interesting is his detailed inclusion of the slaughtermen from the nearby Harrison, Barber Slaugtherhouse and their background. He gives a general overview about the history of the area of Bucks Row, locates long lost roads and takes us on a photo journey through the modern day area in the appendix. There are many photos, illustrations and maps in the book.
Definitely worth a read!
Steven Blomer is a writer with an interesting approach, good ideas and exciting opinions and insights. This is the first of several planned volumes, each dealing with another Ripper murder. I am already looking forward to the next volume about the Catherine Eddowes murder in Mitre Square on 30 September 1888, the second of two murders in one night.
Photos: Philipp Röttgers
About Philipp Röttgers
Philipp Röttgers (M. A.), born in 1989, is author, musician and writer. He is drummer for PARIAHLORD. Philipp studied »English Literatures and Cultures« in Bonn, Germany. His first book about his favourite band Genesis was published in 2015.
His second book „London and its genius loci – a journey beyond time and place“ was published in 2019. Philipp feels deeply connected to London, more than to any other place in the world. He is an expert in the capital’s (and Britain’s) literature and culture. He is also a „Ripperologist“ (and was already featured in the magazine of the same name) and of 2020, he also lead walks through London. Get in touch via mail for more information.