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Happy Like Murderers

Happy Like Murderers [Kindle Edition]

Gordon Burn
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Gordon Burn has already written a book about serial killer Peter Sutcliffe so it should be no surprise (apart from wondering at his stamina for this sort of material) that he has also taken on the macabre story of the Wests. This is a vile catalogue of the manner in which Frederick and Rosemary West raped, tortured and killed. It spares none of the utterly sordid details.

Burn, who has also written two acclaimed novels (Alma Cogan and Fullalove), has opted to apply some of the techniques of fiction to this grisly task. But while this approach does raise ethical questions--he sometimes recounts scenes and emotions that only the participants, and they are dead, could have witnessed--such is his obvious seriousness of intent that these episodes can be justified in narrative terms. The vast compilation of awful but indisputable facts inevitably makes the prosaic detail of the Wests' lives, like Fred's endless DIY and Rose's Sunday lunches, almost unbearably sinister. And the ghastly details of their victims' fates are unspeakably depraved. Britain has seen nothing like this scale of domestic degradation before. But while every reader must decide for themselves how much of this they need to know, and how much they want to know, it is nevertheless right and commendable that Gordon Burn has written this chilling book and thus given people the choice. --Nick Wroe

Book Description

Happy Like Murderers by David Burke is a true crime classic republished to tie in with the ITV drama based on Fred and Rose West, Appropriate Adult.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly horrific 17 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This is a remarkable account of the worlds of Fred and Rose West and it pulls no punches.
I have read of life in Auschwitz and other concentration camps, as well as detailed biographies of the killers Ed Gein and Dennis Nielsen, and I can say without hesitation that I have not before encountered such a detailed account of pure evil.
The news media have concentrated, for the most part, on the women and girls that died at the hands of Fred and Rose West. This book does not speculate on the details of those killings since only one living person knows what actually happened, and she isn't saying.
Detailed and graphic accounts of the child abuse suffered by the West's young family are included and I found these to be truly sickening. Including such details may sound voyeuristic but there is no titilation here, just horror.
It is a well crafted read and Gordon Burn should be commended on handling such a subject with sensitivity.
People will read this book and cry.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Connection 1 April 2014
By Alsirat
Back in the 1970's, I was driving along the A40 West of Carmarthen, when I noticed the traffic ahead was slowing, and steering round something. When I got there, I saw a man chasing a boy, kicking out at him viciously. I pulled up, and yelled at the man to stop. He took no notice, so I grabbed him, kicked him hard enough to shake him up a bit, and manhandled him to the verge. I tried to comfort the boy, who was hysterical. The man said "It's all right, he suffers from Asthma", which seemed to me a strange reason for such a vicious assault.

I flagged down a car, and got the driver to call the Police, When they turned up, I described what had happened. The man gave his name as "Frederick West". I fully expected to be called as a witness, but never heard any more until I saw his distinctive simian features on the front pages years later.

Having this connection, I have read several books about the Wests and their crimes, in my opinion, this one is the best. As others say, a very harrowing read. If I had known what I now know about Fred West, I would have kicked him much harder!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grotesquely Fascinating 21 Oct 2001
By Kali
This is a grotesquely fascinating book about a grotesque man and his equally grotesque wife. Fred and Rosemary West will be remembered for their systematic abuse of their own children (and others) and how for many years they evaded being discovered because of the indifferent society they lived in. Gordon Burn takes his readers into a modern day Heart of Darkness in which there is no happy ending, only survivors who will never be the same again. This is not an easy book to read, it starts in a peculiar way, far removed from the West family. Instead it looks at the lives of people who at first seem to have nothing to do with the storyline, but then the threads are carefully draws in, showing the connections to Fred and Rosemary and how evil can spread its tentacles in the most unlikely of places. This is horror story that turns your stomach because it is true horror, of how a man and a woman could get away with murder for years. This book is not for the faint hearted or squeamish, it is brutal, and explicit in its search for the truth. However it is well written, savagely analytical and totally mesmerising. It is book that I can recommend but only if you have the stomach to read it...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SCARY! 12 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very scary but well written book. It gives a real eye-opening insight into what life was like for this family. It beggars belief that all of this went on for so long without being detected - let's hope the detection procedures have greatly improved as a result! An excellent read if you are a real crime fan as I am.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read with caution 14 April 2012
I have never before wished I could unread a book until I read this. That's not to say it's a bad book, far from it, Burn has a style of writing much removed from the usual cheap chamber of horrors style tru crime writing, but in some ways that makes it all the worse. Nothing here is sensationalized or played for shocks, this is not a horror story, it's a horrific story.

It's not the murders, gristly as they are, that stay with you long after the last page but the appaling abuse of the West's own children. There is something of the banality of evil here too, these acts wern't contained to just the couple but others were involved as well, and there is a sense that living like this, the violent sex, the abuse, the lives lived with a complete lack of a moral compass had become the norm in 25 Cromwell street. Somehow the acceptance of this, the everydayness of this, is worse than any dark alley ripper.

Read this book at your own risk, it left me deeply sickened for quite some time after I had finished it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depravity in Middle England 22 Aug 2004
How did a boy born into a farming family find his perfect partner - a young, impressionable schoolgirl - and kill so many people over such a long period? How did Fred and Rose get away with abusing, and even murdering, their own children without anyone finding out? This book has the answers. It demonstrates how the Wests' parents had their own part to play in what eventually happened in Gloucester over 30 years. The abused turned into abusers - and murderers.
The book also covers those who knew Fred West as a colleague and employee. How did the sex-maniac, serial killer appear to the outside world?
This is not a book for the faint-hearted. In particular the sick abuse of the Wests' own children and the helplessness of their situation will move anybody with a heart.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great thanks
Published 5 hours ago by oldbrucey
5.0 out of 5 stars A Monumental Achievement
This is by far the most detailed account of the life and crimes of Fred and Rose West. It is truly a monumental achievement - brilliantly detailed and full of incidental... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Kokino
3.0 out of 5 stars Odd but worth a read
If you haven't read anything about Fred and Rose West before then this book is not a straightforward introduction. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cat Oswyn
3.0 out of 5 stars A grim look at the potential cruelty of humans
As part of the 2014 Eclectic Reader Challenge I was required to read something from the true crime genre and the book I picked was “Happy Like Murderers” by Gordon Burn. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Killie
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Amazing to read well worth the price
Published 2 months ago by nicola hack
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Book arrived in good condition as described
Published 2 months ago by old reg
2.0 out of 5 stars Wish I hadn't bothered..
Written in a rambling style with too many unnecessary details.
Published 3 months ago by dunfcpe
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim and some what fascinating reading.
The West murders are infamous and it's still hard to think that they got away with it for so long and that the police did not make the connections to events with them till a point... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ollie Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wests
Essential reading for any one interested in trying to understand how and why the Wests were able to carry on their behaviour with impunity. Read more
Published 11 months ago by dai bin
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read
This book is extremely difficult to keep up with, due to it jumping from one person to the next. But all in all a very interesting book to read. Read more
Published 16 months ago by FEBE
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