On reading: A History of British Serial Killing by David Wilson

True Crime

Title: A History of British Serial Killing

Author: David Wilson

From the back: In this fascinating and informative new book, Professor David Wilson tells the stories of Britain’s serial killers from Jack the Ripper to the extraordinary Suffolk Murders case.

David Wilson has worked as a Prison Governor and as a profiler, and has been described as the UK’s leading expert on serial killers. His work has led him to meet several of the UK’s deadliest killers, and build up fascinating insights into what makes a serial killer – and who they are most likely to target.

A vivid narrative history and a timely call for prison and social reform, Professor Wilson’s new book is a powerful and gripping investigation of Britain’s serial murderers.

The gist: It’s weird to say that you enjoy reading about serial killers.

OK, so, I mean, you are talking to the girl that used to go into town on her lunch breaks, buy a Gregg’s tuna baguette (or the occasional sausage roll on treat days), and hole up in the library, reading true crime books. Rarely actually taking them out of the library, although often returning them to the wrong shelf so I knew they’d be there the following day.

Apologies to all librarians, and anyone who got a surprise when looking for books on training puppies.

But I digress.

It’s been a while since I’ve read much true crime. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve read much non-fiction. So Wilson’s book is my new kick-start into this arena again. (Non-fiction on the bus, fiction in bed – them’s the rules). And a fine start it is.

And the great thing about this is, that this book goes deeper than a tantalising read about serial killers so ‘hyped’ by media that they’ve become something not-quite-real. This book attempts to focus on the victims, and on the culture that enabled (to some degree) the events that played out. There’s fascinating insight into the periods of time that framed the killings, and there’s brilliant detail following the various reasons why some of the killers managed to carry on for so long.

It’s fascinating, it’s undoubtedly a grim read, but it’s one that makes you think, and should make you think.

Favourite line: “Most people in this country die weepingly lonely, left in no doubt that they have overstayed their welcome.” [A. A. Gill]

Read if: You’re interested in serial killers, but more than that, you’re interested in society and the culture and time-periods that set the stage.

Read with: A careful mind. And a Gregg’s sausage roll, if you’re that way inclined.

Get it: A History of British Serial Killing by David Wilson

 

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Longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2014, Grind spark is a near-future dystopian novel about growing up in the years leading up to the end of the world. It’s about pretending to be the perfect family. It’s about whether you want to survive. Treat your eye portals. Pick up your copy here.

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