34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 2 October 2003
This book would make a particularly good read for anyone who is starting to take an interest in true crime stories. The book is clear, to the point and easy to read. The authors account of Fred and Rose West focuses on not just the case itself, but the surrounding issues that led to the unision of this depraved, murderous couple. I was impressed with this book, because it is well researched and carefully planned, which certainly makes a whole world of difference for the reader. The author follows his work through thoroughly, starting with Fred and Rose's childhood, their relationship, their bizarre and perverted existence at 25 Cromwell Street and finally, their discovery and the notorious court case that followed. A very good read.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2001
Althought this book is extremely harrowing the way the book has been written is superb.I dont often read,but this book was hard to put down.I would recommend anybody to read this book.Although it is very disturbing it shows that who knows what goes on behind close doors ,the wests got away with it for 25 years thank god they where caught and justice was finally done.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 1998
Howard Sounes did a wonderful and thorough job in writing this book on Fred and Rose West. I was extremely impressed with the manner in which Sounes gave such a tremendous amount of detail about their early lives, prior to their meeting and becoming one of Britain's most villainous couples (next to Brady and Hindley), without losing the reader. His account of their years together is very well written and thought out. I highly recommend this book to any fan of true crime accounts. It's an easy read on a complex situation.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2005
A very informative, if not somewhat grueling account, of two people, who, even after reading this book, i cannot understand. More so, how they got away with what they did for so long.
Howard Sounes, has in places, made assumptions but this is understandable, as, the more you read towards the end of story it is apparent that some truths just will never be told. The assumptions that have been made, however, are probably far more accurate than anything that was written in the press at the time.
My only criticism of the the book is that dates are very very confusing for the murder of stepdaughter Charmaine. To say that the rest of the book had been written so well, with obvious research, that did spoil it slightly for me. It clearly states that Charmaine was murdered in April, even referring to neighbours asking of her whereabouts at easter, but then goes on to say that Charmaine visited Fred, in prison, on 15th June. So still not 100% certain when that DID actually happen.
Other than that, the book had me engrossed from beginning to end. Well worth reading and highly recommended to anyone thinking of buying.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2004
I am absolutely astonished, disgusted and truly fascinated after reading this account of Fred and Rose Wests murderous 25 years at large. The crimes commited are described in graphic detail which only adds to the mental picture you develop while reading this account. Their lives before meeting each other are documented and well researched, giving a fantastic insight into the pshychological aspects of their feelings about 'family relationships' and sex (all in relationship to their crimes) considering the most extreme forms to be 'normal'. I would reccommend this book to anyone with a vague interest in the terrible goings on at 25 Cromwell Street, you wont be dissapointed...
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2000
I am stunned. Two very purverse people like this can actually succeed for twenty-five years in killing and sexually assualing around nine women? I am not usually shocked by what I read but here I am. Fred and Rose West were two genuinly psychotics who had a sick desire for sado-masichist sex. This book is good because it delivers an excellent account of the lives these two people led. They did have reasons for their activities. They were both psychologically damaged at a youngish age, which is, in a way, reasuring. Reasuring in the sense that they were not normal people, and such actions arose out of boredom. The fact that both Fred and Rose were mentally unstable does explain for their actions. Sounes does give an excellent account of their lives and atrocities. If you are interested in the Fred and Rose case, then buy this book. It is well worth it and easy to read.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2011
Monstrous, evil, brutal killers - there are no adjectives adequate enough to describe the horror of the Wests' crimes. I knew only the bare facts about what they had done and I wanted to know more after seeing ITV's "Appropriate Adult" drama. This book is very comprehensive and very well written and researched, giving the background to both Fred and Rose from birth to the present day. Their families were utterly dysfunctinal with childhoods punctuated by abuse, mental health disorders and violence. This book never tries to excuse their behaviour or even reason why they did what they did, it merely charts their lives and their crimes. It is a bit like hearing evidence in court while being spared the legal argument. At times it is tabloid in style and it's obvious it's written with a journalist's eye for truth and detail. My only criticism is that Sounes often uses the lazy phrase "it was the last time she was seen alive". It peppers the text with each victim and could easily be edited out. What I learnt is that both Fred and Rose were borderline retarded, fuelled by perverted desire and a voracious sexual appetite. Rose worked as a prostitute from her own home with Fred encouraging it and watching her with clients. Together they preyed on the vulnerable, even their own children weren't spared. Their crimes were despicable and knew no bounds - incest, torture, rape, underage sex, kidnap, murder and mutilation - crimes they committed on a massive scale. We may never know how many girls they actually killed behind the facade of loving married couple, but it is certain to be more than the victims they buried under the backyard and their cellar. Shocking too was the number of times they slipped through the net with the police, social services and the school system missing many opportunities to stop them in their tracks.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2012
Not something I would naturally have cared to pick up, but one of my occasional private-tutorial students had elected to do dissertation research on this topic and I needed to get myself up to speed on it somewhat abruptly. At time of writing, Brian Leveson (QC, as was) is now leading his Enquiry into press standards, and this particular blast from the past ~ perhaps the last such shocker from before the internet age ~ sets that in salutary perspective.
One doesn't feel 'sorry' for F & R W after reading this but it does illustrate how far certain specimens of homo sapiens can sink when (1) their moral compass has never had a chance to fix itself and (2) lax & conducive circumstances appear to permit. We'd like to hope no such ongoing atrocities could happen again now but how can we be sure? Perhaps evil is always within & amongst us. Certainly we grieve for those many lasses, known & unknown, who fell between F & R's clutches.
One most telling moment, perhaps, is where F ~ rarely & relatively furtively ~ rapes a young victim, yet after brief penetration and failure to ejaculate, the only fluid that does come out of him are tears. To suggest that he was merely 'mis-plumbed' in many & mysterious respects, probably sounds as flippant as it may be macabre, but certainly sets one wondering. Maybe at least it illustrates how one's mind begins to work after reading much of such material.
This book will certainly make you think but does require a strongish stomach.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2006
Sounes provides insight into Rose and Fred's incestuous and violent childhoods. He examines their lives from childhood to the eventual discovery of their crimes and subsequent trial. This is a great book for a non-bias account of what happened. It stays clear of emotive language because the content is poignant enough. This book is a thorough detailed account of the West's lives and is a compelling read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2008
Just Finished this book, it is incredibly well written and informative, author Howard Sounes has really shown a insight to Fred and Rose's childhood and why they may have done what they done. I am a big reader of murder cases,especially serial killers, but nothing prepared me for the this book and the effect it had on me. It left me feeling emotionally drained and exhausted but wanting to read more ,I dont recommend you read at night as you will argue with yourself to why how and what if, as to the outcomes of what happened and went on at Cromwell Road.
What made the book more daunting to me as a mother was the scale of Rose's involvement as the most vile,vicious and dominant one of the two and i agree with previous reviews that in fact,it seems from this account that it was Rose's sadistic lust for violent and bizarre sex that was the motivation for most of these murders.
After reading this book I too found myself feeling more disgust for Rose West than for Fred, as i said before as a mother she too was a woman and a mother so it made it impossible to comprehend just how evil she was.One thing i will say i found the sexual abuse hardest to deal with in this book. Recommended and now reading John Bennetts book as to a Police officers side to the murders.