Monday 3 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: Jack the Ripper and Abraham Lincoln - Tony McMahon

An astonishing connection between two of the 19th century’s greatest crimes.

A fraudulent doctor, Francis Tumblety, is implicated in both the 1865 assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the 1888 Jack the Ripper killings. It seems incredible that Jack the Ripper could have been involved in killing President Lincoln, but the evidence is revealed in this book.

We delve into a murky underworld in America’s Gilded Age and the poverty ridden slums of London’s Whitechapel district following the murderous trail left by Tumblety. A flamboyant huckster, well known in the newspaper gossip columns, whose celebrity masked his homicidal tendencies.

Arrested over the Lincoln assassination then released while others were hanged on the scaffold. Put behind bars briefly by Scotland over the Jack the Ripper killings but then makes a daring escape. The proof is overwhelming that Tumblety was one of the most dangerous criminals of the 19th century.

What did I think?

I was immediately drawn to this strangely titled book as, much like the author, I am fascinated by the unsolved mystery of Jack the Ripper.  I would never have expected to see the names Jack the Ripper and Abraham Lincoln on the same page never mind read a whole book about this jaw-dropping link.

I previously knew very little about Lincoln's assassination other than the name of his killer, but as with most events of this magnitude there's usually more than one person involved in the planning even if only one person can fire the gun.  This is where Francis Tumblety comes in and it sounds like you would have had to have been blind not to notice him if you saw him on the street.  A quack herb doctor dressed in military uniform, Tumblety would make Freddie Mercury look inconspicuous.

Tony McMahon takes the reader on a mesmerising journey from Washington USA to Whitechapel UK as he uncovers a firm link between the two famous crimes.  The author's research is impeccable and with the facts set out before us it is both eye-opening and jaw-dropping that Tumblety managed to literally get away with murder.

Whilst the majority of the book is set in America and focusses on the Lincoln aspect, it's still a fascinating read for anyone interested in the Jack the Ripper story.  I also found it interesting to read about LGBT back in the 19th century and although it was illegal, same sex relationships happened perhaps where you might least expect it.

Well-researched, thought-provoking and completely fascinating, Jack the Ripper and Abraham Lincoln is a must-read for any fans of true crime.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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About the author:

Tony McMahon is an experienced investigative journalist, news and features editor, and consultant to governments and NGOs on issues like countering violent extremism and counter terrorism. A former BBC producer and Sky News reporter before becoming a communications consultant working with government clients (Home Office, US State Department) on issues like radicalisation and extremism-related violence. 

For the last decade, he has been a regular contributor on TV history and science documentaries covering a wide range of issues and originating programme ideas. This includes multiple episodes/seasons of William Shatner’s The UnXplained (Prometheus/History), Secrets of the Royal Palaces (Viacom/Channel 5), Truthseekers (Big Media/History) and Forbidden History (LikeAShot/UKTV and Sky History).

The idea to investigate Francis Tumblety arose after being invited to talk about Jack the Ripper on Sky History’s 2022 documentary series: William Shatner’s The UnXplained. During the research process ahead of filming, the linkage between the
Lincoln assassination and the Jack the Ripper murders emerged. 

He has written two biographies with black British themes – his biography of the late middleweight boxer Errol Christie – No Place To Hide (Aurum Press) was shortlisted for best sports biography of 2011 and long-listed for the William Hill prize.

Tony was born in Walthamstow, east London, and has been fascinated by the Jack the Ripper story all his life. The main protagonist, Francis Tumblety, was both LGBT and Irish heritage – like the author – but that is where the similarity ends!

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