Most helpful positive review
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Moving and sensitive account of the Dunblane tragedy
on 20 September 2002
On Wednesday 13 March 1996, in Dunblane Primary School, sixteen children and their teacher were murdered by a gun-wielding madman. Author Mick North, whose daughter Sophie was one of the victims, analyses the events leading up to the attack. He then examines the social and political effects of the tragedy from his own unique perspective.
Mick begins by providing the background to his own life, from age twenty-seven up to the tragedy. He talks about his marriage to his wife Barbara, the birth of their daughter Sophie, and Barbara's tragic death from cancer. Mick further speaks fondly of his life with Sophie and of their many travels abroad before her untimely death. Intersposed with this are episodes from the life of Thomas Hamilton, and how police ignorance allowed a clearly twisted man to perpetrate mass murder.
The author then provides a sensitive and restrained account of his feelings about the massacre, as well as a rigourous examination of public and political response to it.
North is highly critical of the Central Scotland Police force, in their complacent renewal of Thomas Hamilton's firearms license when it was evident to all but them that the man was unfit to own such weapons. He further criticises their sloppy and inconsiderate treatment of the victims' families in the aftermath of the tragedy, as well as their refusal to be held accountable for those mistakes.
As well as dealing with public sympathy and the Lord Cullen Inquiry, North also charts the campaign against handguns against the wishes of the gun lobby, who sought to prioritise their hobby over the interests of public safety. He also examines the conflicted attitude of the Dunblane community towards the grief of the victim's families, and considers the issue of gun control on a more global.
North's analysis of events is rigourous and thorough. He leaves virtually no stone unturned in his quest for the truth. The incompetence, ignorance and downright arrogance of some of the people he discusses leave the reader bewildered at times, but he is never less than fair.
Running through all this is a strong emotional thread and he talks in a very honest and restrained way about the feelings of both himself and the other bereaved families, who found themselves in a situation they never had any right to expect. He never gushes about his feelings, which makes what he writes all the more touching.
The final words of the book, addressed to his much-missed daugher, are heart-rending.
A brilliant, but very painful read.