7 Books About British Serial Killers That Will Leave You With So Many Questions
OK so morbid fascination is a thing and, owing to the internet, those with full blown Victorian-style interests in the macabre can get what they want pretty easily. Podcasts, documentaries, and books about true crime are increasingly popular so, if you feel like getting high on your own supply — why not look to the very country we are in for some of the most messed up stories out there. Yes, the U.S. and Australia might seem like the worst offenders, but these books about British serial killers prove that the UK has also borne witness to some pretty horrific crimes over the years.
A serial killer is defined by the FBI as the following:
"Someone who commits at least three murders over more than a month with an emotional cooling off period in between".
Serial killers often repeat certain behaviours, and scarily often remain on the loose for a long time. Real talk. What the hell is going on in the minds of people who do these terrible things? Are people born killers, or is it life experience that leads them to these murderous proclivities? That question is asked in these books, which explore the stories of their heinous acts, their unfortunate victims, and the experiences that got them to that place.
1. 'Mary Ann Cotton: Britain's First Female Serial Killer' by David Wilson
Mary Ann Cotton had a very dark little secret. The seemingly charming, kind, attractive woman had lots of ambition. Ambition that led her to murdering up to 21 people. Using arsenic, Cotton poisoned her unsuspecting victims. This book is about her life, her actions, and her conviction.
2. 'A History of British Serial Killing' by David Wilson
Mr Wilson again, perhaps the king of British true crime, offering up the almanac of British serial killers.
This is your go to if you are interested in true crime and will list all of the cases both familiar and unfamiliar.
3. 'The Bus Stop Killer' by Geoffrey Wansell
Probably recognisable to most as the murderer of Milly Dowler, Levi Bellfield is one of the UK's most notorious serial killers. Bellfield used to stalk young women before committing awful acts on them and then murder.
He has been convicted with murdering three young women, as the BBC reports, and his name continues to dominate headlines to this day.
4. 'Wicked Beyond Belief' by Michael Bilton
Peter Sutcliffe, or the Yorkshire Ripper as he became known, was a serial killer who operated in Yorkshire over a 14 year period. By the time he was apprehended in 1981, he had killed 13 women and attempted to murder seven more, as the BBC reports.
This book is about his crimes, arrest, and subsequent appeals against his sentence.
5. 'The Lost British Serial Killer' by David Wilson & Paul Harrison
Have you ever heard of Bible John? He remains one of Britain's darkest murderers who was never found. This book looks at compelling evidence and discusses not only the case, but the person the author's believe is behind the murders.
6. 'Prescription for Murder' by Brian Whittle & Jean Ritchie
To all appearances, Harold Shipman was an upstanding member of the community he lived and worked in. A doctor and a lovely caring person. Or so it seemed. Shipman turned out to be one of the most prolific serial killers in human history. Although it is not known how many people he killed, it is believed that the number is up to 300, the Telegraph reported in 2002 following a public enquiry.
How did he get away with it for so long? What was his motivation? What led to his capture? Find out here.
7. 'Rose West: The Making Of A Monster' by Jane Carter Woodrow
Rose West is one half of one of the world's most notorious murdering couples. West and her husband Fred murdered women, including their own daughter, and buried them in their back garden. The sadistic murders of these women, and the bizarre and horrific life led by the couple, have made them a source of great fascination for many people.
This book zones in on Rose's story and how she went from a normal little girl to become one of the most prolific female murderers and sexual predators.