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23 Reviews
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding! Shocking! Sensational!
This is a simply outstanding work of non-fiction. The story of the search for the killer of an innocent 15 year old Italian girl in her home town of Potenza truly reads like fiction. Corruption in the Catholic Church, the Italian magistrature and police are laid bare with ruthless attention to detail by an author, Tobias Jones, who knows Italy intimately. Jones' horror...
Published on 28 May 2012 by Mr. Andrew N. Bruce

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars an unholy conspiracy
The UK's media coverage of the trial and conviction of Danilo Restivo could not fully capture the highly complex and appalling details of this rapacious killer's story.

Jones' book attempts to uncover the crimes of this apparently bumbling simpleton which span two decades. The author's encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Italian is indeed impressive but it...
Published 23 months ago by thetruthshallsetyefree


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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jaw Dropping, 30 Mar 2012
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Read this in just 4 days, absolutely riveting and beautifully written. His descriptions of various southern Italian towns are a little monotonous at times, but the combination of real-life crime and conspiracy is compelling.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars chilling and enlightening, 13 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Blood on the Altar (Paperback)
I found this book mostly unputdownable. It was chilling because it was horrible to read how something so obvious could be so easily overlooked and, even when the British police cottoned on to the fact that Danilo Restivo was a premeditated killer,they were powerless to act. Thank God that there was no human error that allowed Restivo to kill again in the park one day, as was his clear intention. It was chilling that Restivo's wife colluded -unwittingly or otherwise- to protect him and it was chilling that Heather Barnett, despite her clear misgivings, let him into her house because she couldn't know about the Claps case and couldn't imagine that bumbling weirdo neighbour Restivo was a serial killer. Most of all it is chilling that Heather wasn't allowed to protect her young children from Restivo's sadistic urge to let them discover her mutilated body and for himself to witness the scene and enjoy it.

The book is enlightening because we are quite able to see that a basically stupid and childish man like Restivo was also forensically aware, could plan ahead and construct alibis, could fool people around him, and would have gotten away with the deed and have gone on to kill other women without modern day detection. Infact, he might have already murdered other women because he could change his MO, geographical location, and maybe even his signature when short of time (if it proves that he killed Jong Ok Shin, or other women whose cases he had saved to his computer). He liked to follow his own Case.

I was particularly interested by Tobias Jones's book because I'm interested in Jack the Ripper . Thankfully the number of killers that would murder and mutilate another person are very rare indeed - but Restivo's mutilations of Heather's body echo the Ripper's mutilations of Mary Kelly. Infact there are numerous echos in the case, including the various conspiracy theories that grew up around Elisa Claps, and the trophy taking ( hair, in this case) and posing of the bodies. If you want to know what sort of man Jack the Ripper might have been, and how he could have escaped justice, then read this book.

I stopped one star short of the full five because I thought that all the descriptions of Italy could have been edited down more. Still, Elisa's body might have been discovered a lot earlier, and Heather perhaps saved, without the widespread corruption in Italy and the active hampering of the case by the Church. I tended to get bored and skim over the Italian History -the background was necessary but too much. I would still heartily recommend this book though.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it eventually, 10 May 2013
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I loved this book at the start, then it dipped in the middle & just as i was about to give up it perked up a bit.
Overall a great story, very clever & i did enjoy it in the end was a very emotional journey for the family.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real-life crime that leaves fiction standing, 8 April 2013
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Mary Evans (Heathfield, East Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blood on the Altar (Paperback)
A real page-turner. Tobias Jones' research is amazingly thorough and though the background history/geography of Italy may, for some, get in the way of the story, it certainly helps those who don't know the country well to understand the power of the church, politicians and the judicial system in Italy, who often displayed not only breathtaking ineptitude but in some cases were downright Machiavellian. The 'investigations' left the grieving family for 16 years not knowing what had happened to their daughter.
The author does a superlative job of detailing the parallel crimes in both Potenza and Bournemouth. One of the best books I've read for years.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, 8 Mar 2013
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Laura Knight-Jadczyk (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blood on the Altar (Paperback)
This really is an amazing book. It's more than just true crime, it's a rich and deep anthropological journey through the history of Southern Italy revealing how it was possible that something like this could happen and be covered up so completely by those in power for so long. But then, Italy's problems are not exclusive to Italy though they have their own maddening character. Funny thing is, I've been planning a trip there in the early summer and now I'm wondering if I really want to go? With that much corruption and the people so cowed by it, maybe it isn't such a good idea?

Anyway, get and read the book; you'll understand what I mean then, plus you will read a story of some real life ordinary folk heroes who continued to strive for truth in the face of some incredible opposition and abuse. What was done to this family by those in power was criminal.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, 24 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Blood on the Altar (Hardcover)
The book arrived last Wednesday. I had finished it by Saturday. I am in awe of the Claps family. Thank you, Tobias, for putting their story together so well and also for your portrait of Lucania.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 19 Sep 2013
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Good descriptive writing and plenty of action, keeping one on tenterhooks a lot of the time.
It made me want to visit that part of Italy.
The power of and "goings on" in the Catholic Church are horrifying.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read, 11 July 2013
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This review is from: Blood on the Altar (Paperback)
This book is a riveting read, despite being over three hundred pages long I completed reading it in three days, such is the level of interest it manages to sustain. Coming from Poole in Dorset, the Heather Barnett case was big news locally, we weren't so familiar with the Elisa Claps case but Blood on the Altar gives a good insight into both murders. The author Tobias Jones has an Italian wife and lived in Italy and his passion for the country and sympathy for the Claps family shines through in his writing. He covers the Elisa Claps murder in minute detail and explains both the history and mindset of the region of Italy where the murder took place; this has great relevance when considering the role the Catholic church played in the aftermath of Elisa Claps' disappearance.
The Heather Barnett case is too covered in great and sympathetic detail , the differences between the British and Italian police investigations become apparent and explain how Danilo Restivo managed to avoid justice in Italy. There are however questions about Restivo and his actions which the book fails to cover.

Between Elisa Claps disappearance in 1993 and Heather Barnetts murder in 2002 , where was Restivo and what was he doing? How did he come to move to Britain ? Why did we not hear much about his mother and what was his relationship with her? Did he work and how did he manage to provide for himself? We heard nothing about the Bournemouth bus driver or his/her passengers , were they questioned as witnesses regarding the morning of Heather Barnetts murder? NACRO-why was there no mention of witnesses here concerning his time there that morning?
The author tries to establish a tenuous link between Restivo and another murder in Bournemouth, that of Korean student Jong-Ok Shin, known as Oki. My opinion is that Restivo is not responsible for Oki's murder; there is no evidence to connect him to this crime, and the method of killing does not fit his modus operandi. Jones seemingly bases his suspicion on the single fact Restivo lived close to the scene of the murder, this kind of speculation does the author no favours.
Though there were a few questions I would have liked answered and the gripe mentioned above,overall this is a riveting and interesting read which I would thoroughly recommend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars absorbing but unsettling, 5 April 2013
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A 16 year-old girl goes missing without trace in southern Italy. This book follows developments through a number of years before the mystery is solved and justice is delivered. It begins like a cracking true-crime story but soon widens out into a study of the politics, geography and culture of Basilicata, a deprived and seemingly forgotten province near the heel of Italy. The author contrasts the warmth of the girl's family and most of Basilicata's inhabitants with the unedifying spectacle of power being misused by the small clique of politicians and Church officials able to wield it. He contrasts the beauty of the villages and countryside with the ugliness of Potenza, the provincial capital, where the power is concentrated. You do not expect true crime books to be joyous but I found this unsettling for unexpected reasons. It does go on a bit and I got impatient to get back to the story. For this reason I was tempted to rate it as 3 stars, but I have the feeling it will remain in the mind and perhaps even persuade me to visit Basilicata myself.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, 5 April 2013
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Interesting perspective of Italian culture and well told story, only exception is when the author drifts off to try to explain the Italian treatment of the tragedy that befell this innocent girl and the impact on her family.
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Blood on the Altar
Blood on the Altar by Tobias Jones (Paperback - 7 Feb 2013)
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