The Pembrokeshire Murders by Steve Wilkins, Jonathan Hill


True Crime seems to be captivating TV audiences these days, and like never before. A good barometer of UK TV Drama, ITV has given us about a year worth of true crime dramas in as many months. This blog has been utterly inspired by DES, White House Farm, and now The Pembrokeshire Murders. These books, based on true life UK murders, have galvanised UK audiences, but I wonder how many have read all the books as we have? 

Serial Killer John Cooper (R) on TV show Bullseye

Our latest true-crime TV favourite meant devouring The Pembrokeshire Murders (original book published 2013) in about a week, and as good as the TV drama was, I think the book is better! It took Steve Wilkins and his team 6 years to nail serial killer John Cooper and bizarrely classic 1980s TV show 'Bullseye' helped identify him, but that is the tip of the iceberg, in this fascinating and compelling true crime story. Steve Wilkins lead the team to a successful conviction and dives deep into the case, which gives the book a personal edge and a compassionate narrative. 

main images - TV show cast / Small Images - Real Life 

The police procedural has you on the edge of your seat, and the intricate DNA and evidence details shared, really give this book an individual edge. By the end of the book, you are cheering on the time as John Cooper is sent down on a 'life means life' sentence. 

Very highly recommended. As Bullseye presenter Jim Bowen would've said 'super, smashing, great!

Publisher: Orion Publishing Co 2020

(First published in 2013 by Seren Books)

ISBN: 9781841884509 

Number of pages: 352 

We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption in an American City

Author - Justin Fenton 

Publisher - Faber & Faber

Publishing - February 25th 2021

Baltimore, Maryland, USA. To my knowledge, this is synonamous with crime TV classic The Wire, the series that broke the mould as a predecessor to Netflix crime dramas we all binge every week. With some interest, but little knowledge, I began this book in trepidation. Seemingly Baltimore has had race riot issues over the past decade the black lives matter movement could have been born there. Racial segregation,  high unemployment, drugs, and a police force hell-bent on reducing gun crime.

So when you think of crime, corruption, drug dealing, and money laundering, you don't expect this to be coming from inside the police force, but that is what happened in Baltimore Police department. Justin Fenton's book delves deep into the Gun Trace Task Force set-up to tackle Baltimore's gun crime. Fronted by Sgt Wayne Jenkins and his team of plain-clothed officers, the task force was the city's crime-tackling heroes.  

However, they were all been skimming from the drug busts they made, pocketing thousands in cash found in private homes and planting fake evidence to throw Internal Affairs off their scent. 

This high octane hard-hitting true story ends with a litany of jail terms and a death shrouded in mystery that journalist Justin Fenton takes us through the crimes, the investigations, and fall-out with real gusto. Whilst The Wire may seem like a distant memory, I think this latest Baltimore crime story would make a good Netflix documentary or mini-series. 

A recommended read from Faber & Faber. 

Words by @rybazoxo for @vivalabkshq

With thanks to NetGalley 

STALKERS:True Stories Of Deadly Obsessions by Eileen Ormsby

Published August 3rd 2020


Dark Webs True Crime #3

Book 3 of 4 in the highly moreish Dark Web series and this time the true-crime stories centre on stalking, stalkers, and the serious repercussions of such action. Whether online or off-line, stalking is insidious, difficult to define and even harder to prove. Stalking can cause fear, stress, confusion and anger and can be difficult to police in extremity. Stalking as a crime is a relatively new construct and the stories selected for this e-book are from the last decade or so. Keeping in style with the previous two books, Stalkers: True stories of deadly obsessions is four separate stories from around the globe. 

The first story is of young Hollywood actress Rebecca Schaeffer who was murdered by an obsessive fan, with stark parallels to the murder of musician, John Lennon. A stark reminder of the perils of fame, and a story we were not aware of!  

The second is from the UK and concerns a bookish highly-intelligent stalker that, although did not commit murder, he stalked hard and committed a litany of crimes before being caught. Countdown, crossing the country, and ASDA. Bizarre, entertaining, and a case of you can never really know what goes on in somebody’s head! Frightening. 

Sandwiched in the middle is a story from the beginning of the internet which includes; MSN chatrooms, a teenage temptress, bromance, MI6, and a stabbing in broad daylight. Once in court, this case was groundbreaking for UK litigation and must be read to be believed. 

The fourth, and final story from the USA, is common of many a true crime story; infidelity and jealously in marriage. It is also a story that involves Craiglist, a  deserted garage, mind-blowing deception, and a surprise twist in the end. Justice served but my word we did not see that coming! 

Overall, this is another brilliant book in Eileen Ormsby’ online book series, and this week we delve into the fourth book of this dark web series. 

Words by @rybazoxo for @VivaLaBooksHq 

Buy The Book

Murder on the Dark Web: True tales from the dark side of the internet by Eileen Ormsby

Format - Kindle Edition

Published - June 22nd 2020


Series - Dark Webs True Crime #2

This is our second e-book True Crime review (courtesy of Kindle Unlimited) and we are pleased to report that; 

A) we read it in one sitting and B) there are more books in the series!!

The term 'dark web' needs little introduction in the internet ear of 2021 yet still poses many questions; is it all encrypted? It is as sinister as we imagine, and what will we find there? I've never ventured into the dark web myself, but I'm not new to TOR nor TAILS which are both needed to access this 'unseen' and criminal enclave of the internet. Imagine a heinous insidious version of eBay where you can buy or sell drugs, guns, and gangsters, even murder-for-hire. Often exaggerated with folklore, the prime real example would be the website SILK ROAD, which we heard about on a True Crime podcast.  

This second book in Eileen Ormsby' dark web series, Murder on the Dark Web tells two true crime stories, both which intrinsically linked by this very modern phenomena. One from the USA and one from the UK. The three-part format remains, however, a great introduction describing what the dark web is. This sets the tone for the reader giving insight, should it be needed. Both stories are intriguing, well known, and wonderfully told. The narrative remains objective, and the facts are dished out, with newspaper reports, interviews, phone call transcripts and masses of research in the storytelling. An absolute joy to read we can't wait to delve into the next book in this series. 

Buy The Book


By @rybazoxo for @VivaLaBooksHq 

We are serial killers on the internet by Eileen Ormsby


Format -ebook, 180 pages

Published-May 2nd 2020

ASIN- B087X1JX56

Series- Dark Webs True Crime #1

This is our first e-book True Crime review (courtesy of Kindle Unlimited) and we are pleased to report that; 

A) we read it in one sitting and B) there are more books in the series!!

This is a wonderfully twisted exploration of criminal and human insanity. All of the required details are there; narcissism, psychopathy, fantasy, and necrophilia. The book is nicely split into three different parts, telling three true crime stories from around the globe, in relatively recent criminal history. Each crime has pure murderous intent at its heart and infamous due to internet/youtube folklore. 

Each story is in a factual narrative, that's subjective when required, forensically analytical, gory, and possibly not one for the faint-hearted.

Online omniscient obsessions have undoubtedly changed the world we all live in. This book is a good start in the dark web series. 

Follow the author here

Learn more about the Dark Web series here 

We are 

History of a Drowning Boy by Dennis Nilsen, Mark Pettigrew (Contributor)

Publish date - 25th of February 2021

Published by - Red Door Press

Narcissistic, introverted, insular, & paranoid; all hallmarks of a psychopath and by his own admission, Dennis ‘Des’ Nilsen displayed all of these signs by his early teens. Like most serial killers, Des has himself marked down as anal intellectual, a psychopath so warped with self-indulgence that upon being sentenced to life for the murder of 12 innocent men and boys, the institutionalised serial killer decided to write about his life and ‘struggle’ on the inside. Co-written with longtime confidante Mark Pettigrew, this book offers a remarkably fascinating insight into how those killings are comprehended and understood by the killer, first hand, and in retrospect.

From a young age, Nilsen has a macabre fascination with death and warped sexual fantasies which may or may not relate directly or otherwise to several cases of sexual abuse admitted on Denis as a child and young man. In childhood, his relationship with this grandfather, sexual abuse by him (we only have the authors word) and his death, seems to have marked the young boy with an ingrained perversion of passive male bodies and necrophilia. It’s a warped juxtaposition and one that subsequently, is the reason we are reading this book. As a young man, Des seems to start life quite respectably, 11 years as an army cook ( he became a trained butcher), and even a year in the police force, before settling for life as a militant civil servant. What’s striking throughout this book is that Nilsen explains his necrophilia fantasies, incest, and psychopathic tendencies with such blatant ease. 

Scottish Serial Killer Dennis Nilsen (Image: UGC)

Little recognition (even in hindsight) of his heinous acts is quite astonishing considering that between 1978 and 1983 Nilsen murdered, mutilated, and dismembered 12 men picked up on London’s gay scene procured for his perverse sexual passions. Less ambiguous than Brian Masters ‘Killing for Company’, ‘History of a Drowning Boy’ is a curated collection of Nilsen’s autobiographical notes written whilst he was in prison and offers a frightening first-hand insight into the mind of the serial killer. Fresh off the back of ITV drama DES, this book is sure to fly off the shelves when published in February of 2020  

Dennis Nilsen died in prison in 2018 and often fought the law to have his autobiography published whilst still alive, his level of narcissism was unbounded. 


Babes in the Wood: Two girls murdered. A guilty man walks free. Can the police get justice?

Author - Graham Bartlett, with Peter James


Published- 20-02-2020

Justice delayed is always justice denied. 32 years though, is better late than never, in the case of child killer and paedophile, Russell Bishop

On the 9th October 1986, two young girls are found murdered in Wild Park, Moolsecoomb, a suburb of Brighton. A well-known working-class estate, the crime rocked the local area and remained unsolved for 32 years. Similar in execution to the Soham murders, the two young girls were best friends and their disappearance was out of character. PC Graham Bartlett was assigned to the case and this is the fascinating inside story of the subsequent investigation as the net tightens around local man Russell Bishop. The trial that follows is one of the most infamous in the history of Brighton policing – a shock result sees Bishop walk free. On the 4th February 1990 however, another young girl is attacked in the area, and due to the victim's incredible recall, Russell Bishop cannot escape a second time. Guilty and jailed, Brighton CID reopened the so-called ‘Babes in the Wood’ murders ( I despise tabloid murder monikers) and through sheer determination, DNA advancements, quashed convictions, and witness testimonies, Bishop was finally convicted of the heinous crime, 32 years later...

The book is an incredibly detailed account of the original and reopened investigations, police procedurals, a pragmatic fight from the victim’s families, and the dogged determination of a police force under fire. 

This is a highly commended True Crime book and a must-read for fans of UK crime history, police procedurals, and criminology. 


ISBN 9781529025569

Categories - True Crime, Police, UK Crime, 1980's 

One of Your Own: The Life and Death of Myra Hindley by Carol Ann Lee

Author - Carol Ann Lee

Published - 14th of April 2011

On 15 November 2002, Myra Hindley died in prison, one of the few women in the UK whose crimes were so indefensible that a life jail term did mean an indefinite jail term. Without a doubt, Britain's most notorious, heinous and recognisable murderess, her death did nothing to diminish the dark shadow she cast across our collective consciousness and cultural criminal history. 

Even as a Christian name, Myra remains synonymous with the wuthering bleakness of Saddleworth Moors, Ian Brady, countless books, TV documentaries, and even the music of Manchester band, The Smiths. It's a strange cultural significance in UK crime and a case that got our writer interested in True Crime in the first place. 

This book by crime biographer Carol Ann Lee presents a well researched and vigorous study of Hindley from birth until her death. Medico psychology does little to explain her actions and her upbringing, although marked, was largely uneventful and more of her time, than anything else. So what explains her coercion in such crimes? 

Between 1963 and 1965 she actively participated with her boyfriend Ian Brady in the murders of a 10-year-old girl, two 12-year-old boys, a 16-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy. As we all know, in such cases of serial murder, you can guarantee there will be more undiscovered, and the body of Keith Bennett has never been found.  

Myra peddled the line that she had been under duress and abuse before the offences, after and during them, and largely blamed coercion by Ian Brady for her part in the crimes. Its a ludicrous notion and the book helps to diminish such a myth. She was convinced that if she portrayed herself as Brady’s puppet she would eventually get paroled and even managed to cajole a team of supporters from the upper echelons of society to help her cause. Seldom seek repentance, she often relied on her religious upbringing to portray some sort of remorse. Religion is also synonamous with criminality;  a warped ideology does wonders for a murderers sub-conscience, after all.   

This book is an exhaustive and impressive account of the UK’s most evil woman. Being subjective in delivery, the book is also graphic and paints a perfect picture of this notorious 1960s crime. IF you’ve read ‘Beyond Belief’ and such like, you will know the forensic details of the crimes already, however, if you are unsure of Myra’s prison history, this is the book to read.



The Murders at White House Farm: Jeremy Bamber and the killing of his family. The definitive investigation


Published March 2020 by Sidgwick & Jackson (first published April 22nd 2014)

In the 1980s in middle-class rural middle England, Nevill and June Bamber were wealthy, landed gentry (almost) with farmland, farmhouses, property in central London and were cash-rich- often described as ‘The Archers’ (Link) of Essex. There are some things that money can’t buy though, and unable to have children, the couple adopted a daughter, Sheila, and a son, Jeremy. 

June Bamber was a religious zealot with mental health problems, Sheila was a wannabe glamour model with mental health problems, son Jeremy was a bight and intelligent ‘yuppie’ of his time, interested in cash only, and the trappings of inherited wealth. During the night of 6-7 August 1985, Nevill and June Bamber was shot and killed inside the farmhouse, alongside Sheila, and her six-year-old twin sons. There was no sign of a break-in, 25 expelled gun cartridges, and a ‘missing’ silencer. The police assumed that schizophrenic Sheila had committed murder/suicide, but this was only the beginning of the story. The prime suspect was son, Jeremy Bamber who was eventually charged with five murders and jailed for life in October of 1986. 

Although Jeremy Bamber still professes innocence, he remains in jail. 

I knew nothing of this case until ITV dramatised the crime in White House Farm which aired in the UK in 2020. Following the incredible TV dramatisation I thought the book would be the perfect companion piece, and wow was I correct! Carol Ann Lee’s book is the definitive crime biography on the case and rightly so. With an undoubtedly exhaustive investigation and equally thorough research, the story is well balanced, doesn’t push opinion and is a thoroughly enjoyable crime book. The case itself is horrendous, so I would tread very carefully if you are triggered easily, however. 

Even for a true crime fan, the murder of children is incredibly insidious. 

If you’re unfamiliar with this case watch ‘White House Farm’ on the ITV HUB


Also, Jeremy Bamber’s brother-in-law wrote his own personal account of the crimes, which I gather is also very good. You can BUY that BOOK here At The Rainbows End

In the interest of balance, you can find out more about Jeremy Bamber's case here

Facing The Yorkshire Ripper - by Mo Lea

On the 20th of October 1980 (a few days before her 21st Birthday) art student Mo Lea spends a night out with friends in Leed’s university student area. The air of a city under siege is clear to the local student population. A serial killer is on the loose and on the attack. In his fifth (and final) year, the Yorkshire Ripper's modus operandi has shifted from prostitutes to random young women and students in and around the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, in the heart of urban England. Even in this insidious atmosphere, Mo Lea takes the risk of taking a short dimly lit walk home. What follows is a life-threatening attack, a stoic and emotional recovery, yet one that causes reflection on what it means to be a survivor and how far you would have to go to recover from such a crime.  A gifted artist, Mo Lea plays on her strengths art itself is the leitmotif that runs throughout this true-crime biography. The creative process begins with exhibitions of dark imagery, and portfolios full of macabre drawings and paintings. The artistic and emotional torture is conveyed in excruciating detail. 

As the year’s progress, Mo Lea takes us on a journey through the United States, Leeds, Bedfordshire, and even a life-affirming meeting with a woman that changes the artist’s life, and sexuality, in one swift move. Like brush strokes on a blank canvas, Mo’s paints her prose well and delivers a harrowing yet engaging account. Although the book is a bit dry on the more titillating details of Sutcliffe’s crimes (maybe not one for all true crime fans) it is, however, an inspiring story of recovery, reinvention, and the ability to overcome. By the time the book concludes, those early macabre drawing of dark insidious creations are visually inspired seahorses, photography, and working with Victim Support charities. 

Mo also delves deep into her emotionally fraught and tiresome dealings with the gross incompetence of West Yorkshire Police and their notorious mismanagement of the Yorkshire Ripper case. 

For some, it would leave a sour taste but Mo’s story is one of positive recovery and enlightenment. 

@rybazoxo for Vivalabooks 

Facing The Yorkshire Ripper - The Art Of Survival by Mo Lea was published on 6th of October 2020 by Pen & Sword Books 

View Mo Lea's artwork here 

'She Must Have Known' The Trial Of Rosemary West by Brian Masters

She MUST have known, right? She being Rosemary West, resident of the notorious house of horrors, 25 Cronwell Street alongside her mass-murdering psychotic sex-obsessed husband, Fred West. He murdered (at least) 10 women and buried numerous bodies under the patio, basement, and even the bathroom of the family home. Implicit in his sexual depravity, that part is undoubted, but was Rosemary West also an assistant to the murders or was she completely oblivious? 

Upon the uncovering of the 1994 crime, Fred West almost immediately spilt his secrets and was subsequently charged with the multiple murders. Rose, however, had little evidence against her, circumstance, DNA nor otherwise but, following Fred’s suicide, Rose was in the firing line subsequently being jailed for life. 

Was Rose West a serial killer,  an unwitting accomplice under her husband’s duress, or did she know all along and choose to ignore it? 

Originally published in 1996, this true-crime biography by Brian Masters is a classic of the genre. The book dives deep into the case;  analysing the medico- psychology of this murderous duo, the legal parlance, and court evidence in painstaking and forensic detail. What unravels is a as dark and insidious as you can imagine, with Brian Master giving a first-hand account having attended the trial itself. A cacophony of questions raised, Master's gives a largely objective analysis, and in Rose West's favour, but is he right? 

In summing up, Judge Brian Leveson stated 'The evidence that Rosemary West knew nothing is wholly unworthy of belief' and having completed the book, I tend to agree. 

However, Brian Masters delivers a fascinating argument to say otherwise, that could cause ambivalence for less seasoned true crime readers or newbies to the case. 

It is a book we definitely recommend! 


A History of British Serial Killing - David Wilson

'A History of British Serial Killers' by TV crime professor Dr David Wilson, has a surprisingly sober and objective narrative. The book largely bypasses discussing the serial killers themselves (medico-psychology) concentrating more on the victims of serial killers, and how due to social, political, and cultural influence, a serial killer can go undetected, seemingly killing with ease.  Through these killings of women, children, prostitutes & gay men, Wilson looks at some of the histories most heinous serial killers, from Jack The Ripper to Fred & Rose West, Moors murderers, Dennis Nilsen, & Robert Black. 

It's a well-balanced debate and academia puts a lot of weight on society's failings, but does that account for psychotic, sporadic, and often mindless murder sprees? I doubt it. What David Wilson does do though is different to most books in this well-worn genre, however. Delving deep into the victim's lives, we learn more about real people and victims from the marginalised groups that are continually affected by organised and disorganised serial killers. A clarion call for social and prison reform, this is a definite recommend for anyone interested in true crime and criminology.

According to Good Reads, David Wilson is Professor of Criminology and founding Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University. He is also the co-Editor of the prestigious Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, produced five times per year. 

I'd be interested in reading more of his work, so keep an eye on the blog for future true crime reviews. 

Have YOU read this book? Let us know what you think in the comments box! 


Born Killers? by Dr Kris Mohandie - USA True Crime! Mirror Books

Published 03/09/2020 by Mirror Books 

Over his 30-year police and forensic psychology career, Dr Kris Mohandie has come face-to-face with kidnappers, serial killers, stalkers, and terrorists.

With his expertise and insight, Dr Mohandie analyses and evaluates the thought processes that motivate the most dangerous people who have ever walked among us.

This first-hand account of his work covers shocking cases like the 'Angel of Death' serial killer, racist serial assassin Joseph Paul Franklin, and even the O.J. Simpson case.

Dr Kris gives us the reader a great insight into his 30-year career with analysis of infamous USA cases of hostage-takers, serial killers, mass murderers, violent 'true-believers', terrorists, and some of the worst criminals in recent modern history. Each chapter dives deep into the psychology of the criminal, including socio, political, and culture influences, the relevant litigation, and cases that Dr Kris had personal insight in. A highly intelligent and addictive read, this is a must for any budding criminal psychologist, true crime fan, or Netflix crime series obsessive, like my good self! 

DR Kris has appeared on CBS, CNN, BBC, and hosted the investigative discovery shows Most Evil and Breaking Homicide

@vivalabksHq @rybazoxo



Killing for Company - The Case of Dennis Nilsen - by Brian Masters


ITV televisions latest Crime & Punishment series DES had a profound effect on me. An utterly captivating performance by David Tennant, the story of serial killer Dennis Nilsen (aka 'DES) wasn't one I was familiar with, I knew very little about this Scottish killer until examining this three-part (highly rated) drama. Author Brian Masters is an accomplished crime writer and personally knew Nilsen, befriending him just after his arrest in February 1983. Master's became his biographer and prison visitor for the following decade.

Within days of being arrested, serial loner, council official, one-time policeman and chef, Scotsman DennisNilsen confessed to fifteen gruesome murder over four years. His victims, mostly young gay men at a time when society cared little for them, had never been missed. Nilsen was undoubtedly a psychopath, and through his wanton narcissism (he confessed to all murders in a series of notes and drawings) we get a real glimpse into the mind of a mass murderer and what/who/when made him so.  

Brian Masters is an award-winning crime writer, this book being a testament to his talents. Killing for Company is essential reading for any true crime aficionado or criminal psychology buff. This book is one to read before or after the TV series, and either way, we recommend it!

Killing for Company won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction in 1985 and has been republished in the decades since. 




The Thursday Murder Club - Richard Osman - Pointless Crime Fiction!

If I’m honest, I rarely read 'celebrity' penned books. As an avid reader of actual books by actual writers, a novel penned by a TV star (like a lot of television these days) is dumbed down, vacuous, and ultimately, trash – you could say pointless, even.
Publishing is also awash with reality stars penning biographies, cookbooks from one-time show winners, or a tv personality having a pop at writing fiction, as they already have the established audience. The latter is where we find ourselves in this book review. As a fervent true crime fan and having followed Richard Osman on twitter for a while, I did have some trepidation in clicking request when this book landed on my net galley list, as I’ve read a few dud celebrity fiction books in the past, (against my better judgement), I decided to give this a go. 

Firstly, let’s take the title. It should be called The Sunday Murder Club. Set at Coopers Chase retirement complex, in leafy middle-class Kent no less, this twee piece of crime fiction, is at best, prime for an ITV Sunday night drama starring Felicity Kendall. The cast of characters certainly falls into Sunday night drama territory. Residents of the upmarket quintessentially English retirement home who form 'The Thursday Murder Club' are a bunch of octogenarians (or thereabout) with humourless personality traits (which I think are supposed to be endearing) that investigate historical cold case files, as opposed to being in a knitting club, perhaps. You can already see where this is going. That is until the murder of the care home boss (!) and his right-hand man, in dubious circumstances. Que the cliched detective duo sent out to investigate. These two feckless idiots seem to think it's viable to rely on evidence from a bunch of coffin dodgers, that unrealistically, seem to be fully informed about police procedural, forensic techniques (when a skeleton is found, of course) and the subsequent reveal of the killer (s)?

Secondly, it's poorly written. The narrative is clunky, arrogant, boring, and fails miserably at any attempt of suspense, characterisation, or execution.

Thirdly, in places it's unreadable. The narrative is split between a diary entry of one of the residents, another resident who was hiding a poorly husband, and another one who I think buried a body, was hung up on his dead wife, and then committed suicide or something. It almost sounds exciting when written down and I imagine it would be if an actual writer wrote it and not some pointless TV presenter.

I’m unsure as to how this ends as, unfortunately, I didn’t get that far. My kindle told me this would be a 2 and a half-hour read. I think I gave it about 58 minutes before giving up.

Unsurprisingly, the reviews have been unanimous (apart from this one) in praise and a sequel is in progress.

Just like reality TV, celebrity publishing is Pointless fodder for the masses.

Inside 10 Rillington Place: The untold horror of my life with a serial killer

If you think of the ‘House of Horrors', the term is now synonymous with the heinous decades' long crimes of Fred and Rose West. A collection of young women systematically abused, mutilated and murdered, then disposed of  - all at one address. Not a haunted house, nor simply a den of iniquity, a true House of Horrors. These addresses slip into the UK true crime vernacular and become common parlance upon true-crime experts. We know all about 25  Cromwell Street, but what about 10 Rillington Place?.

10 Rillington Place, before its demolition 

Well, it's a true crime I am familiar with, a film I'm familiar with and various books having been written about Reginald John Christie, the back street ‘abortionist’ who murdered  8 women (at the very least). Some he buried in his garden, while others he stashed beneath his floorboard, or hid away in a secret alcove in his kitchen. A serial killer at a time of great depravity, just after a world war, and London post blitz was certainly a place of penniless poverty and crime being opportune and easy to commit. It’s a place where this book begins in the late 1940's of central London and it's a time that is often forgotten. Peter Thorley's personal account of the murder of his sister, is certainly a record to set the story straight.
Timothy Evans murdered his wife Beryl Evans, not Reginald Christie as many believed 

Although murdered at the address, Beryl wasn't murdered by serial killer John Christie, it was at the hands of her alcoholic, and violent husband, who had strangled his wife, also suffocated his 13-month-old baby daughter. Historically, as it was at the same address, some speculated that Timothy Evans (hanged for the crime in 1960) wasn't the innocent party. So much so that he was posthumously pardoned and his sentence was widely condemned as a miscarriage of justice - but was it?

Being a first-hand account it, Peter was obviously devoted to his elder sister and had often visited his sister at the address, Peter gives a rather interesting impression of serial killer Christie. The memoir does little to dispel any of Christie's countless murders but does paint him in a different light, slightly. Peter disagrees that Christie killed his sister and with Timothy Evans being described as a womanising simpleton, a serial pathological liar, with drunken tendencies, the book explains in great detail and, not a character assassination, but what I would ascertain as the truth. It would be so easy to label Christie as the murderer of Beryl Evans and her daughter, the hanging of Timothy Evans even helped abolish capital punishment, however, contrary to popular belief and the British judicial system,  I think he most certainly killed his wife and daughter.

10 Rillington Place, as it looks today

A house of horrors it may have been,  but a miscarriage of justice, this was particular murder, was not.

A must-read for any true crime fan.

Inside 10 Rillington Place: The untold horror of my life with a serial killer is published by mirror books and is on general sale now.


Killers Keep Secrets -The Golden State Killers Other Life - by James Huddle

Between 1975 and 1986 Joseph James Deangelo killed more than a dozen people and raped at least 50 across California between 1975 & 1986, but what about the killer's personal life, or how he managed to keep a normal family life, during his nefarious activities?

In 2018 author James Huddle was shocked to discover that his brother-in-law could be guilty of such crimes. With the gift of hindsight, could he have spotted anything suspicious in his old confidante's background?

It appears that Joe's criminal activity began before the murders and is suspected of local cat burglaries near his flatshare between 1973 - 1975 and unlike a lot of psychopaths, he also had a degree in criminology, eventually becoming a police officer during the time of his alleged crime spree. By 1977,  the man is now known as the 'east area rapist' having raped at least 17 women and the attempted rape of another. By now, Joe was also married to the author's sister, and a few small ' red flags' were apparent. Fired from the force in '78 over a bizarre shoplifting incident, the murders continued to tally up, and now couples became the targets, double murders increase across several states. Fast forward to September of 1981 and Joe's daughter is born, the killings seem to stop at this exact time and it not until 1986 that the final east side rapist aka golden state killer murder is committed.

A crime scene photo released by the FBI

The final murder is of a teenage girl, bearing the hallmarks of his previous work and the police again retrieve DNA from the scene. it matches previous cases but they still haven't found their man. James continues his friendship with Joe, building model planes, shooting guns, and the one-time killer shows little evidence of his murderous hobby or sinister personality traits. Do you think you'd recognise a killer in your family? I imagine for most people this would be unthinkable, never mind remotely unimaginable. Following the arrest, James often wondered if he'd missed any 'red flags' during his time with the killer but I imagine he will never know for certain. 

By 1991 Joe and James' sister were heading for the divorce courts. although they never did it officially, I imagine it was a relief for him not to be associating so closely to a lawyer, however, he was keen on the status that his legal eagle wife gave them. It wasn't until 2018 once he'd been arrested that proceedings were in place, more of a paperwork issue than anything to do with his nefarious behaviour. In the decade before his arrest, James does mention that some distance suddenly became between the former friends, was he hiding guilt, acts of crime, or something just as sinister? Joe evaded capture for more than 40 years and even the FBI put out a £50k reward to find him but to no avail.

After his capture, former friends, neighbours, colleagues (he worked as a mechanic after his time in the military and the police) spoke of the kind and generous man who showed no signs of dangerous behaviour. The police would soon find him and it was down to the DNA they had collected from the hundreds of crime scenes the killer had fled.

James Huddle writes short sharp chapters offering a genuine, unique, and rational insight into the golden gate killer, but what was it that made Joseph James DeAngelo into such a heinous beast? As this case is still relatively fresh*, James Huddle concludes the book by giving us an insight into notorious serial killers of the 1970s that were also active across the USA.

Joseph DeAngelo faces court June 2020 

*UPDATE - (source BBC website 20/06/20) Joseph DeAngelo, the man known as the Golden State Killer, has admitted to 13 murders in a deal with US prosecutors meant to spare him the death penalty.

A case I wasn't aware of, this is a very good first-hand account of a serial killer’s life and is a genuinely good read. I'd imagine a true-crime documentary, film, and Netflix series are in the offing.