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By Felix Feneon

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Novels in 3 Lines collects greater than one thousand goods that seemed anonymously within the French newspaper Le Matin in 1906--true tales of homicide, mayhem, and way of life provided with a ruthless economic climate that provokes laughter at the same time it shocks. This impressive trove, undiscovered till the Nineteen Forties and right here translated for the 1st time into English, is the paintings of the mysterious Félix Fénéon. Dandy, anarchist, and critic of genius, the discoverer of Georges Seurat and the 1st French writer of James Joyce, Fénéon conscientiously maintained his personal anonymity, toiling for years as an vague clerk within the French battle division. Novels in 3 Lines is his mystery chef-d'oeuvre, a piece of odd and singular paintings that brings again the long-ago 12 months of 1906 with the haunting immediacy of a photo whereas anticipating such disparate works as Walter Benjamin's Arcades venture and the loss of life and catastrophe sequence of Andy Warhol.

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There are, of course, far too many books about the Victorian killings, so a study of these might have provided the basis for the prank. But, as I found when I tried to put some thoughts together for a book, the plethora of material on the Whitechapel murders is actually the problem. There are huge disagreements about most details including who Jack actually killed. So the fraudster/novelist would have to have been very heavily immersed in the Ripper literature for some time. He would also have to have had a very good understanding of Victorian England and police investigations in order to distill from all the writings those facts that the experts would agree on.

Jack the Ripper is a London character par excellence. If he is not one of the professionals or aristocracy that crown our image of Victorian London, then we can almost see him as a sort of Dick van Dyke classic cockney. Liverpool can claim to be the birthplace of many of the metropolitan developments of the last century, from Medical Officers of Health to recalcitrant strikers, but Liverpool is not usually thought of as an especially violent city or one from which the modern serial killer would have originated.

He liked to call himself a journalist. ’ In 1985, Michael had bought himself an Amstrad word processor with money lent by Anne’s father, Billy Graham, and now, at last, it came into its own. He told us that he made copious notes in the Liverpool library, which Anne latterly transcribed onto the Amstrad. But at this stage Michael had not connected the Diary with James Maybrick. One day, he told me, when he was in a Liverpool bookshop, he found a copy of Murder, Mayhem and Mystery in Liverpool by Richard Whittington Egan, a much-respected crime historian whose family hailed from the city and had even driven with the Maybricks to the races.

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