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Death of a Murderer [Paperback]

Rupert Thomson
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

4 Feb 2008
One night in November 2002, PC Billy Tyler is called to a mortuary in Suffolk to guard the body of a notorious child-killer. But in the eerie silence of the hospital, the killer's presence begins to assert itself. A vivid evocation of an extraordinary moment in crime history, "Death of a Murderer" is a dark and gripping meditation on the fears and temptations that haunt us all.

Frequently Bought Together

Death of a Murderer + The Book Of Revelation + The Insult
Price For All Three: 22.37

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  • The Book Of Revelation 7.99
  • The Insult 7.99

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (4 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747592675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747592679
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rupert Thomson is the author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including The Insult, which was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize, and Death of a Murderer, which was shortlisted for the Costa Prize.
His sixth novel, The Book of Revelation, was made into a feature film in 2006 by the Australian writer/director, Ana Kokkinos.
In 2010 he published a memoir, This Party's Got to Stop, which won the Writers' Guild Non-Fiction Book of the Year.
His new novel, Secrecy, is inspired by the life and work of the unique, eccentric Sicilian wax artist, Gaetano Giulio Zumbo. Reviewing Secrecy in the Financial Times, AN Wilson described the novel as "chillingly brilliant and sinister...masterly", while the Daily Mail called it "bewitching...intensely atmospheric...superb."
Rupert Thomson lived in Barcelona from 2004 to 2010, but he has now returned to London.

Product Description


'His masterpiece, a novel so strong that it seems a foregone conclusion that Thomson will enjoy the commercial success and widespread acclaim he deserves ... brilliant' Matt Thorne, Independent on Sunday 'Beautiful writing, occasional poetry, and an aching sense of the vulnerability of those we love. It's an ambitious and brave book' Carol Birch, Independent 'Exquisitely controlled ... What gives Death of a Murderer its greatest strength is its restraint. Nothing is exaggerated for effect ... Thomson is able to make glories of the tiniest moments' Toby Litt, Guardian 'Thomson reaches the summit of his powers ... a novel of beautiful moral complexity' Andrew O'Hagan

Book Description

An ordinary policeman spends a long and thoughtful night guarding the body of one of Britain's most notorious criminals --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and thought-provoking 16 Mar 2008
By Helen Simpson VINE VOICE
I felt a strong theme throughout this book was 'fathers', and their strong influence on their children:
Billy's neglectful father, a past girlfriends abusive father, a neighbour whom Billy looks upon as a father figure, his wife's sneering and contemptuous father and his own roll as father to Emma who has Downs Syndrome. This is also bourne out in his 'conversation' with Hindley who doesn't want to talk about her moody and violent father and even the film he and Sue saw in Amsterdam was 'In The Name of The Father'.

He spends his shift guarding the notorious child killers body and his mind drifts to his relationships and experiences in life that have made him who is. I liked the concept and can't agree enough on how influential a father can be in their child's social and emotional development - this isn't an excuse for people who've had bad relationships with their fathers, to use to behave unacceptably. But does question whether rejection/abuse/neglect effects our relationships both growing up and throughout life.

The ending felt a bit of an anti climax, yet I can appreciate it's subtlety as Billy see's his role as Emma's daddy one that will over ride his previous experiences.
Overall an interesting book, and one worth reading, but not one I would rave about.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Yes, but it's her, isn't it? What she did..." 23 Sep 2007
Although she's never mentioned by name, the protagonist in this book is the legendary Myra Hindley. Hindley was considered to be an England's most notorious serial killers, and together with her partner Ian Brady was involved in the "Moors murders." For many years the tabloid press depicted Hindley as "the most hated woman in Britain," and the crimes committed by her and Brady undeniably shocked the nation, becoming the benchmark by which other acts of evil came to be measured.

Death of a Murderer takes place on the eve of Hindley's funeral at Cambridge on the 20th November 2002 just as Billy Tyler, a thirty-something police constable from Ipswich is given the twelve hour shift of guarding her body in a West Suffolk Hospital. The mortuary where she is housed is under heightened security with only a selection of press allowed at the entrance, and even the funeral home where Hindley will eventually be cremated has been placed under tight police security.

As Hindley's crimes once reverberated throughout the psyche of the country, most think that going anywhere near her body will be tantamount to spiritual poisoning. Certainly Billy's wife Sue doesn't hesitate to voice her mixture of concern and outrage. She pleads with her husband not to take the job, fearing that whatever evil Hindley possessed will infect those around her. How could he possibly justify what he was doing? Why was he prepared to put his whole family at risk?

To be sure, it is a sensitive situation and there is so much that could go wrong. So Sue gives him a dark gleaming stone, telling him to wear it around his neck to protect and connect him to the purist part of himself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult subject matter - masterfully handled 27 Feb 2008
By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE
Although the main character, Billy Tyler, is a policeman, Death of a Murderer is not a novel that fits into the crime or thriller genre. Thomson takes the death of Myra Hindley as the springboard for a fictional exploration of childhood, growing up, and humankind's propensity for violence and evil. Billy is a kind of Everyman, not a detective trying to solve a case. Thomson writes brilliantly, effortessly conjuring up new characters and scenes in crisp and evocative prose. The only reason for not giving it five stars is that some aspects of the plot feel a bit contrived. I've not read any novels by Rupert Thomson before but will certainly do so now.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just a bit too forced 19 Nov 2007
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Rupert Thomson's novels have usually revolved around a cataclysmic external event happening to someone, generating before and after sections. Death of a Murderer departs from this model.

We find Billy Tyler, an unremarkable police constable who lacks much sense of ambition, guarding Myra Hindley's body at a hospital mortuary during a 12 hour night shift. To say that nothing happens is an understatement. It is just Billy, his notebook and his inner thoughts.

Billy has issues at home. He knows that he has been a disappointment to his wife Sue - he never took her travelling and now their daughter Emma, who has Down's Syndrome, means that he probably never will. His father in law is unsympathetic and he doesn't seem to have much in the way of friends. Phil, a colleague he took through induction, might have been a friend, but Billy now has to call him Sarge.

Obviously, there is some fascination with Myra Hindley - and unnamed and unseen presence. Billy starts to consider what it means to be evil, and this is pretty much the only topic of conversation in the brief interludes that Billy has someone to speak to. Billy is torn between the view that Hindley was inherently evil or that she was a normal person who did wicked things. This plays on in a dialogue between Billy and Hindley's ghost. This, though, didn't ring quite true. Hindley's ghost was portrayed as a cold, dispassionate person dealing with the issues in a very matter of fact fashion. However, in the newspapers Hindley had always seemed to be a complex contradiction between evasiveness and contrition. That her ghost would be neither felt wrong. It could be argued that Billy was playing out a monologue based on his own, imperfect, impression of Hindley and what makes a serial killer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars still reading . . .
Halfway through the book. Rupert Thompson is my favourite comtemporary writer. His books range over many disparate themes. Read more
Published 12 months ago by nasogastric
4.0 out of 5 stars verklart nacht
Billy's night guarding the body of a notorious murderess is not particularly transfiguring. Her ghost isn't letting on much, just chain smoking, but then, there are of course no... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Michael Farman
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing read
I bought this second hand and it was delivered promptly in the condition promised. The book itself is an intriguing look at the conflicts and emotions stirred up in all of us when... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Roberta
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine novel
Policeman Billy Tyler is charged with minding the body of a notorious murderess (real-life Moors murderer Myra Hindley), and the book is about the fallout effects on his... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Callmerick
4.0 out of 5 stars Fab!
An unusual but compelling read. Rupert Thomson uses the death of Myra Hindley in 2002 as the background for this novel. Read more
Published on 23 Mar 2011 by SJSmith
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not his best though
Well written, a good read that becomes quite captivating the more you read it, but this isn't a patch on a lot of his other books.
Published on 11 Jun 2010 by PJ Sturdee
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, absorbing read
This is undoubtedly a thought provoking novel which raises uncomfortable questions, particularly within Billy Tyler, the main character of Death of a Murderer. Read more
Published on 1 Feb 2010 by Ms. N. Howarth
4.0 out of 5 stars A Rupert Thomson Novel, Need I Say More?
Putting a picture of Myra Hindley on the cover may attract readers expecting a salacious crime story. Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2009 by R. J. Hole
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to like
DEATH OF A MURDERER is a difficult book to like, dealing as it does with some very tough issues and using as its framing reference a real character whom many would rather not... Read more
Published on 24 Sep 2009 by Emanon
1.0 out of 5 stars sad
I left this book bewildered at the state of received opinion of this book's supposed high quality. I followed it for as far as I did (about 80% of the way) because I was teased by... Read more
Published on 31 Aug 2009 by Robin Pascal
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