I admit, I have a morbid attraction to any book having to do with Jack the Ripper. Every few years, it seems, some author comes out with a book that purports that they have solved the case once and for all and I read it diligently. Never have I been so disappointed though as I was with The Bell Tower.
While the story of some unrelated and grisly murders that took place in a San Francisco church a few years after the Ripper killings was interesting, there was no real evidence to back up the claims that the title made. Just because a guy might have been in London at the same time and happened to be the minister at the church when these particular murders took place is not evidence to me.
However, take out the shoddy references to Jack the Ripper and The Bell Tower was a nice treatise on life in San Francisco in 1895. Particularly entrancing was the story behind the two leading newspapers at the time run by Michael De Young and William Randolph Hearst. The drama between those two fierce competitors is a story on in and of itself.
The book is long, 500 plus pages. The evidence is scant and a interruption of the main story. Worst of all, a man was hung for the crimes and Graysmith didn’t really give me enough information to tell if he was in fact the killer or not. This is the same guy that wrote Zodiac, which was made into a movie. I expected a lot more.
Thankfully, I got this book from the library. I still would like a refund for the time I wasted reading it.