Although there are plenty of books about serial killers, this one aims to be different by concentrating on victims, not killers. This is to be applauded, but I am afraid that it could have been somewhat sharper in its execution. There is also some interesting analysis on serial killing, too. For those who are new to the subject, this will be informative, but even old hands should benefit from it too.
It begins chronologically, with accounts of the Ripper, then Cream, Chapman and Smith, then Haigh, Christie and Manuel, then decides to produce victim focussed chapters; prostitutes, the very young, the very old, homosexuals. No obvious reason for this change in emphasis.
The author, despite his intention to avoid the pitfalls of others, spends a few pages on the guess the Ripper game, and though this is done sensibly, it doesn't really add anything and goes against what he claims he is aiming to do.
His wider historical comments are not always accurate - Britain didn't grind to a halt in 1926 and there were women on the electoral registers prior to 1918.
Some of the chapters are solely based on secondary sources and these are not always factually sound - especially chapter four.
The author states that information on victims is not collected - he should read police files on murders located at the National Archives, where such information is available - also newspaper accounts. For a victim focussed book it is odd that victims of Jack the Stripper are excluded and there is no obvious reason for this.
Although the author says he isn't interested in killers but victims, we often learn more about the former than the latter, as in the case of Haigh - interesting as it is.
Finally, I am afraid I am someone who believes that individuals kill, not society, so was out of sympathy with the major thesis (constantly repeated in case the message isn't clear), whilst agreeing that victims tend to fall within the vulnerable groups identified here (on the whole). The link between society and murders isn't made clear, except at a generalised level, and as this is the book's thesis, this could have been made more explicit. The thesis of social deprivation, though, doesn't always hold water - why no serial killers in the depressed regions in the 1920s/30s, whereas the only serial killer at this time was from a prosperous suburb? Her victims aren't featured here, incidentally.
A rather tighter product could have come from all this.