7 UK True Crime Books From 2017 & 2018 That Are Totally Terrifying
True crime has always been of morbid fascination to many. However, in recent times it is certainly very much at the forefront of the output of many publishers. True crime books are milling off the shelves at the speed of light. With such a rich and varied selection to choose from, why don't we look at seven UK true crime books released in 2017 or 2018? What is more terrifying than crimes that have happened to people on the same soil as you, right?
Did you know that a lot of people who suffer from anxiety feel like true crime makes them feel less anxious? Well, I know it makes me less anxious anyway. Reading these cases is not only interesting, but it's important as well. Understanding, or attempting to understand, what leads to people commit these crimes is vital to help us recognise signs and to prevent future occurrences.
From gangs, gangsters, historical cases, and brutal deaths, to people charged on what some argue to be questionable evidence, the UK has a huge history of crime that has been thoroughly documented. However, as time goes on more and more stories are being shared, different angles are being examined, and evidence is coming to light. This means that picking only seven books was, honestly, a struggle. Enjoy.
1. 'The Clydach Murders' —John Morris
This book tells the story of a man convicted of the brutal, violent, and horrific murders of four people in Clydach, Wales.
The mass murder happened back in 1999. Mandy Power, her two young daughters Katie and Emily, and her 80-year-old mother Doris Dawson were attacked and murdered at home in the Swansea Valley. The sad, shocking, horrific, and violent nature of this case meant that it garnered a lot of attention. Police were under an enormous amount of pressure to find the guilty party and bring them to justice.
So they found their guy, or did they? As the BBC reports, David Morris was convicted of the murders in 2006, but has maintained his innocence from the beginning and his family have been fighting for what they believe is a miscarriage of justice. But was it? The author of this book re-examines the case, claiming that there was very little evidence to charge him with.
2. 'The Minister And The Murderer' — Stuart Kelly
Should a convicted murderer be allowed to become a religious minister? Well, it turns out it is possible, whether you think it's a good idea or not.
James Nelson admitted to his crime, confessing in 1969 and served his prison sentence. After this, he chose to pursue a religious career. He applied to train to be a minister in the Scottish Church. He was allowed to train but many people were absolutely appalled by him being able to be a man of god, especially considering the nature of his crime — he brutally beat his own mother to death.
This book looks at the complexity of humanity, religion, forgiveness, and, of course, this case and the story after.
3. 'You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life' — Andrew Hankinson
This book tells the story of Raoul Moat, who as the BBC reports, went on a violent rampage which left one person dead, another shot, and a third, who was a policeman, blinded. He went on the run and sparked one of the biggest man hunts in UK history. There is no denying this was a very dangerous man, and his actions were despicable.
This book is written by a man from the same area as Moat, who tries to get in the mind of the killer and understand what led to him making the choices that left such a wave of devastation. It's interesting because the author wrote it using the second person. The author explained his choice in an article he wrote for The Guardian about the book.
"I started interviewing people and examining evidence from his interactions with the council, police, doctors, and psychologists. I considered what he and others said of his troubles. I attended the trial of his accomplices (they were sentenced to 40 and 20 years). I spoke to some of Moat’s relatives. I tried to find the truth. What I found was a collapsing mind, and as far back as 2011 (I have it in my notes), I knew I wanted to write about it using the second person".
4. 'Dead In The Water' — Penny Farmer
40 years ago, in 1978, the bodies of British couple Chris Farmer and Peta Frampton were found in the sea off the coast of Guatemala. Aged only 25 and 24 respectively, the couple had been on the holiday of a lifetime, crewing on a yacht called The Justin B.
They had been brutally beaten, tortured and murdered. Evidence showed that they had been weighed down and thrown into the sea while still alive. For nearly 40 years, despite desperate attempts by the victims family, nobody was ever brought to justice for this awful crime.
With the help of the UK police force and the FBI, the family built a case, which the book documents. I don't want to spoiler alert this bad boy, so just read it. It will bring you to tears. It's written by Farmer's sister, and his family's unwavering dedication to bringing the killers to justice is so moving.
5. 'The Real Peaky Blinders' — Carl Chinn
This one is a more historical, which makes it slightly easier to swallow, but the story of the family that the stylish BBC drama is based on is still pretty brutal.
It's set in post World War One Birmingham. Billy Kimber, who plays the arch nemesis of the lead in the TV show, was a real life person. A Brummie who was from Summer Lane. He was as bright as he was violent, an accomplished fighter and an equally accomplished criminal. He clawed his way up to the top of the gang he was a part of and they ruled the race tracks, running protection rackets.
Their success gained attention from the London based Sabini gang, leading to some pretty awful violence between the two gangs. This book shows that violent crime is nothing new and that sometimes the old crime gangs are more shocking than the new ones.
6. 'Goldfinger And Me — Marnie Palmer
This story is about gangs, glamour, timeshare scams, money, and madness. Sounds a bit bonkers right? Well, what's really bonkers is that this is entirely true. This is the story of one of the most notorious gangsters in UK history, John Palmer, from the perspective of his wife of 40 years, Marnie.
Nicknamed Goldfinger, his life was like every glamourised gangster movie you have ever seen. From a really impoverished start, to his next level success story, his crimes meant he ended up with swish cars, private jets, and even a gold smelter in his garden. Babe I am not joking this guy had a criminal success beyond belief.
This tells the story of his downfall and mysterious assassination, all from the perspective of his long suffering wife.
7. 'Pure Evil' — Geoffrey Wansell
Pure Evil is like a who's who of the country's most violent and dangerous criminals. It is comprised of awful cases that horrified Britain and the world, as well as terrifying murders that you may not have heard of but are just as depraved.
Looking into the minds of Britain's most heinous convicted murderers and makes the difficult but important question, are they pure evil, were they born that way, or did life make them like this?
The author looks in detail at the convicted murderers, their crimes, whether they have shown remorse or not, and asks the question: should a life sentence actually be for the rest of one's life?
As time goes on and the amount of podcasts, books, documentaries, and stories worthy of reporting, analysing, or re-examining increases, it looks like this addictive AF genre is going nowhere.