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Could do with a complete re-edit
on 26 March 2013
It's difficult to know how to review a book that has so clearly borrowed work from so many others. On one hand, the author has those people to thank for their own research and journalism in providing stories that will be new to the uninitiated true crime reader. However this also has the effect of making some chapters far more detailed and verbose than others. For example, the chapter `Murder on Hungerford Bridge' has a narrative of an almost fictional quality, whereas `The Boy who Loved Poisons' appears to be written for a younger audience and is much simpler in its language.
A major criticism of this book is the lack of editing. This is particularly grating when names change: on just one page, Denise Bulger's companion on the fateful day at Bootle Strand goes from Nicola to Vanessa and back to Nicola again. It smacks of `copy and paste' and makes the author look indifferent to the victims, e.g. `The Body in the Canal' primarily names the elderly victim as Mrs Lilley, but she becomes Lily for a few paragraphs!
Writing style aside, the book itself does not make many attempts to explore the background to either the murderers themselves, or the overall psychology of children who kill. The former can be understood by the nature of this being a catalogue of crimes rather than an investigation into one child's actions. However, the peppered thoughts on teenage cruelty throughout some chapters, and the `summing up' in the final pages of the book just seem a little simplified and almost appear to excuse the way some children turn out, based on their admittedly appalling upbringings, while labelling others with a flavour of Daily Mail vilification.
Unfortunately, these inconsistencies are the lasting impression I was left with, which detracts so much from substance of book as to render it pointless. The only recommendation I could make would be to those who have an interest in true crime but have not read much on the subject. If nothing else, the reader can identify cases of interest as a starting block and seek out further information on them elsewhere.