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Death of a Murderer Paperback – 4 Feb 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (4 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747592675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747592679
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 493,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rupert Thomson is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels, including "The Insult", which was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize, and chosen by David Bowie as one of the 100 Must-Read Books of All Time, "The Book of Revelation", which was made into a feature film by the Australian writer/director, Ana Kokkinos, and "Death of a Murderer", which was shortlisted for the Costa Prize.
In 2010 he ventured into non-fiction, publishing a highly personal memoir. "This Party's Got to Stop" was described by Robert Macfarlane as "completely brilliant", and by Jackie Kay as "a riot, and heartbreakingly sad", and went on to win the Writers' Guild Non-Fiction Book of the Year.
His new novel, "Katherine Carlyle", will be published in November. It has already received praise from James Salter, Lionel Shriver, Jonathan Lethem, Deborah Moggach, Richard Flanagan, Anne Enright, Rebecca Mead, and KT Tunstall. According to Philip Pullman, "Katherine Carlyle" is "completely unexpected and brilliantly done" and "the strongest and most original novel I have read it a very long time."
Rupert Thomson has lived in many cities around the world, including Athens, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, Sydney, Rome, and most recently Barcelona. He now lives in London.

Product Description

Review

'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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Helen Simpson VINE VOICE on 16 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
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 By Walter Hypes on 23 Sept. 2007
Format: Hardcover
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 By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE on 27 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. N. Howarth on 1 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is undoubtedly a thought provoking novel which raises uncomfortable questions, particularly within Billy Tyler, the main character of Death of a Murderer. Billy is a policeman assigned with guarding the corpse of Britain's most notorious child killer, Myra Hindley; although within the confines of the novel she is never directly referred to.

Throughout Billy's 12 hour shift, left alone with only his thoughts, Billy reflects on his marriage, his family, friends and career and how they have shaped him. He recounts incidents of his own life, that run in conjunction with the heinous events that took place in Manchester in the early 60's and approaches with awkward reluctance his own understandable guilt at the decisions he and his wife have faced over their only daughter who has Downs.

As the shift wears on and through his own musings, Billy conjures up sporadic images of the woman to address the questions that, in his own mind, remain unanswered.

A good, atypical, absorbing read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By YeahYeahNoh TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 April 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although I like the author and have read much if his previous work, I was initially put off this book by some of the publicity it garnered on publication. As is often the case, the reality is quite different to some of those reviews.
The Myra Hindley link is a backdrop to us seeing the main character, Billy, reflect on his paths to where he is now, and perhaps a final understanding of the truly important things in his life. There is much within the text which could form the basis of many discussions, and I agree with other reviewers that the book concentrates in many parts on father figures and the influence thereof.
Are people inherently bad, or do circumstances make them so? Are there levels of evil, or is there simply good or bad?
It's a thought provoking read, which avoids much of the salaciousness which it was, in some quarters, accused of.
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