1. Monday · Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – Yorkshire Ripper The Secret Murders By Chris Clark And Tim Tate

 

In 1981, Peter Sutcliffe, the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’, was convicted of thirteen murders and seven attempted murders. All his proven victims were women: most were prostitutes.

Astonishingly, however, this is not the whole truth. There is a still-secret story of how Sutcliffe’s terrible reign of terror claimed at least twenty-two more lives and left five other victims with terrible injuries. These crimes – attacks on men as well as women – took place all over England, not just in his known killing fields of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Police and prosecution authorities have long known that Sutcliffe’s reign of terror was far longer and far more widespread than the public has been led to believe. But the evidence has been locked away in the files and archives, ensuring that these murders and attempted murders remain unsolved today.

As a result, the families of at least twenty-two murdered women have been cheated of their right to know how and why their loved ones died: the pain of living with that may diminish over time, but it never fades away completely. Five other victims survived his attacks: their plight, too, has never been officially acknowledged.

Worse still, police blunders and subsequent suppression of evidence ensured that three entirely innocent men were imprisoned for murders committed by the Yorkshire Ripper. They each lost the best parts of their adult lives, locked up and forgotten in stinking cells for more than two decades.

This book, by a former police Intelligence Officer, is the story not just of those long-cold killings, of the forgotten families and of three terrible miscarriages of justice. It also uncovers Peter Sutcliffe’s real motive for murder – and reveals how he manipulated police, prosecutors and psychiatrists to ensure that he serves his sentence in the comfort of a psychiatric hospital rather than a prison cell.

This book was really interesting and if true crime is your thing you should give it a read. The crimes that Peter Sutcliffe were charged with are well discussed and have been written about frequently but this book looks at the geography of his life and the number of similar crimes committed in areas he had links with at times he was likely to be there. Some fit his known pattern, others are slightly different, but all share elements of his modus operandi.

Even before reading this I did wonder how many other victims there were out there, either people who were killed or those who had a near misses. I do understand from a practical point of view why there is nothing to be gained and that it would be expensive to investigate every crime that took place in every area he lived or visited, but you can’t help wondering if there are women out there who never got justice.

I give this book 5 out of five stars.

Book Reviews · Monday Musings

His Garden: Conversations With A Serial Killer by Anne K. Howard

This week something a little different with some true crime…

 

You want to know what happened? Ask Anne.”—serial killer William Devin Howell

A monster was on a killing spree. In just nine months, seven people went missing; all of their bodies eventually discovered in a wooded lot behind a suburban strip mall. But the investigation that led law enforcement to their suspect, William Devin Howell, is only part of the story behind HIS GARDEN: Conversations With A Serial Killer.

A practicing attorney, author Anne K. Howard first contacted Howell while he was serving a fifteen-year sentence for the murder of one of his seven victims. He was about to be charged for the remaining six murders. A unique and disturbing friendship between the two began, comprised of written correspondence, face-to-face prison visits and recorded phone calls. Howell, who had been unwilling to speak to any members of the media, came to trust Howard.

In the years that follow, the suspect shared his troubled history with Howard but refused to discuss the charges against him, promising only to tell her everything when the case was over.

That time has come.

HIS GARDEN probes the complicated and conflicted mind of William Devin Howell–Connecticut’s most prolific serial killer. Both sacred and profane in its narrative style, the story on these pages explores the eternal question of human evil and its impact on others, including the woman he chose to hear his horrific confession.

William Devlin Howell was not a serial killer that I was acquainted with, then I heard Anne Howard on a podcast discussing her book and decided to give it a read. I am fascinated by true crime, what makes a serial killer into the monster, could things have been different, was there a different path the could have taken. this book looks at all those traditional true-crime elements as you would expect but it also gives you a very different and unique insight into the world of true crime writing.

Anne Howard talks candidly about the role of the author in these types of books, about the conflicts raised within her by the act of interacting with the serial killer and finding that it is not always that easy to reconcile the man and his actions. I think that is, of course, one of the most intriguing aspects, so many times when someone is arrested for the most horrific crimes we hear friends and neighbours speak to what a lovely man he was, how polite, how quiet, but it makes sense, the victims would be more wary of a freak, of someone outwardly strange or aggressive but the nice guy can get victims alone so much easier.

In an age where journalists are often criticised for the lengths they will go to for a story, it is nice to read about the fact that the decisions to go down certain routes, is not always as easy as it may seem, and also that while dealing with someone who saw his victims as less than human, she was able to show them as the vulnerable flawed people they were and give their families some, albeit painful, answers.

This is not an easy read, at times it does seem to drag a little however, I would say it is worth pushing through it, the book is not as sensationally told as some other true crime books but it is one of the most thought provoking I have read.

I give this book 4 out of five stars.

Audiobook Reviews · Monday Musings

Audio Book Review – One Of Your Own By Carol Ann Lee

This is the first true crime/biography audio book I have listened to and I was a little unsure of what to expect…

Running Length; Approx 18 hours 9 minutes

Narrated by: Maggie Mash

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The Goodreads Blurb…

On 15 November 2002, Myra Hindley died in prison, one of the few women in the UK whose crimes were deemed so indefensible that ‘life’ really did mean ‘life’. Without a doubt Britain’s most notorious murderess, her death has done nothing to diminish the shadow she casts across our collective consciousness. This book presents a study of Hindley.

I was not sure what to expect from this, so far my experiences with audio books had revolved around fiction so when I decided to try out the true crime genre and this popped up I thought why not, I am pretty sure everyone is familiar with the story of the Moors Murders so I am not going to discuss that here in detail, but before we discuss the content I want to talk about the narration.

I had to go double check the narrators name as she was not known to me, it seems she is most known for audio work and has split the reviews down the middle when it comes to narration. I lot of people did not like the ways she attempts various accents as she was reading the book, and I will confess a couple did jar, but overall I liked her voice, it was quite conversational, almost as if she were sat across from you telling you the story.

However, I have to say when she puts on the Lancashire accent and you here her speak Myra Hindley’s own words, it sends chills down the spine, but that is nothing to when she reads the words from the Lesley Ann Downey tape. For me her narration works but I can understand who it might distract people who are less used to the accents she depicts.

So the story itself, well, it is fascinating. I don’t think you necessarily learn anything new about the case but what you do get is a slightly different perspective on some things, and there was one aspect I had never thought of before. we all consider the pain left for the family of the victims but I had never really stopped to think about Myra’s family, they did nothing wrong, played no part in the crimes but their lives were also changed forever. You here about her mother, ending her life in a nursing home, spending most of her life living under different names and hiding in her room so no one knew of the relationship and the other event which made me stop and think was her sister’s funeral. Myra was refused the right to go, quite rightly I believe but what I found disturbing was that the flowers at the grave where ripped apart and destroyed, now maybe I misunderstood, but it sounded like it was not just flowers that might have been sent by Myra but all of them and I could not help but feel anger and sadness for her family, they did not do anything but at a time where they are grieving for someone who was innocent and had suffered terribly, both through illness, personal loss and the infamy of her sister, for her grave to be wrecked as a way of lashing out at someone else seems cruel, if someone had done that to a victims grave or the relative of a victim there would have been an outcry, but are Myra’s family not as much victims of her actions as the others? Some may argue if the stories of childhood abuse are true you might pass some level of blame onto the parents but her sibling did not deserve that, my feelings after listening to this anyway.

It also raised another question in my mind, one which has been asked over and over again, would either of the have committed crimes if Myra had never met Ian? My feelings are that Ian would have still gone on to abuse if not kill, he might not have been as prolific but I think he sexual proclivities would have surfaced no matter what, Myra is a different matter. I think she would have moulded herself to fit whatever was required by the person she fell for, if it had been a gangster she would have been a moll, if it had been a banker she would have turned herself into the perfect businessman’s wife, the fact it was a psychopath meant she become his partner in crime.

This book worked well on audio book I think partly because the case is so well known, obviously you miss out on the photos, maps etc that feature in the actual book but because it is well know it does not diminish your understanding of events. I do recommend it and I will certainly try other biographies and true crime books on audio.

The score for this one is 4.5 out of 5 stars it would be five if maybe they offered some for of file download option for the images in the book, as I say maybe not as big an issue for those acquainted with the case but would be useful to someone who was not.

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