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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly horrific
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...
Published on 17 Jan 2002

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars shocking and harrowing
This book made me feel physically sick. That is to say that it was so detailed and precise about its account of the Wests lives, that certain images would not leave my mind, in particular those involving Fred and his tools. This book is well written and its use of repetition is quite extraordinary, however it is not a comfortable read.
Published on 29 Nov 1999


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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly horrific, 17 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Happy Like Murderers (Paperback)
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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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grotesquely Fascinating, 21 Oct 2001
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This review is from: Happy Like Murderers (Paperback)
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
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Mr. Matthew W. Hiles (Maidstone, Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Happy Like Murderers (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars shocking and harrowing, 29 Nov 1999
By A Customer
This book made me feel physically sick. That is to say that it was so detailed and precise about its account of the Wests lives, that certain images would not leave my mind, in particular those involving Fred and his tools. This book is well written and its use of repetition is quite extraordinary, however it is not a comfortable read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read with caution, 14 April 2012
This review is from: Happy Like Murderers (Paperback)
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depravity in Middle England, 22 Aug 2004
This review is from: Happy Like Murderers (Paperback)
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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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, gripping, desperately sad., 19 Jun 2001
This review is from: Happy Like Murderers (Paperback)
A well researched and highly detailed account of the lives of Fred and Rosemary West and of the desperate lives of their children. I couldn't put it down. The detail of Fred and Rosemary's own childhood experiences was surprising and insightful. If you want a book that goes towards trying to understand why and how they could do what they did then read this, there are also some valuable perspectives from their surviving children. Brace yourself though, it can be difficult reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Connection, 1 April 2014
This review is from: Happy Like Murderers (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gruesome Read, 23 Sep 2012
This review is from: Happy Like Murderers (Paperback)
When I started to read this book, I thought the author was so poor at writing fluid paragraphs I actually threw the book across the room in disgust that he was a successful published author. But I get it now. The short sentences. The repeating of sentences. The short sharp statements. I didnt understand how he would write some things in such a basic, common, illiterate manner but he does this as a way of referring to how the monsters spoke. It works and I cant put the book down. My chest is tight reading the bit where Poor Anna Marie was tied up and abused by the monsters. How monster Rose would delight in what it (I do not give monsters a gender)did makes me feel physically sick. Those poor poor children. And there it is in prison having three square meals a day, all bills paid, living a simple life with all its basic needs met. This is a "good" read but has made me feel anxious and stressed. Only read if you can handle some of the graphic scenes Burn describes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a factual novel?, 18 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Happy Like Murderers (Paperback)
If you're looking for a straightforward, orderly account of the West case, don't get this. Get Howard Sounes's 'Fred And Rose' instead.

This really is a bloated, overly descriptive, telling of the story. The author employs the writing techniques of a novel, which makes the reader question what is real and what is embellishment.

If Howard Sounes hadn't written his book I'd have given this an extra star, but, as it is, Sounes has written the better book.
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Happy Like Murderers
Happy Like Murderers by Gordon Burn (Paperback - 19 Feb 2001)
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