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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 16 January 2006
Much has been written before about the Cromwell Street murders, and their perptrators Fred and Rosemary West. Never before, though, has the point of view of the Senior Investigating Officer John Bennett, been detailed so thoroughly as in this book. Graham Gardner has written an excellent account of Bennett's experiences of the Cromwell investigation which is well worth a read for true crime buffs out there.
The investigation is detailed from the start of Bennett's involvement, and takes it right through to the end of Rose West's court case. Perhaps the best reason to read this account over others is that it provides a unique perspective on how a major police investigation is run and the frustrations, anxieties and difficulties faced by them, particularly the at times shocking behaviour of the media in the case.
Bennett and Gardner stick to the areas of Bennett's expertise only, so anyone interested in the psychology behind these crimes needs to look elsewhere. Bennett does not pretend to understand in the slightest what motivated these people to committ such horrific crimes. However, an authoritative account of their reactions to being arrested and questioned is discussed.
Overall, this is a fascinating book, which is well worth a read. Some of the detail is unpleasant reading, but it is never gratuitous and the story is told with the utmost respect the victims and their families. It is impossible not to be moved by the horrific events and helps the reader to understand how these two got away with their crimes for so long.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2011
This book is not an account of the Wests nor of the murders per se, but rather an account of the police investigation of 1994-1995. Shown from the view of the police, we see the pressures they were under, chiefly from the media, and how they interviewed the suspects and searched for the victims' remains. It is a detailed account and worth reading for an insight into a modern (well, 1990s) major investigation. However I was surprised by the police's surprise over the media and public's voracious and distasteful appetite for news, as these were evident in other serious crimes in the previous two centuries. There is a useful timeline at the back which helps the reader recall what happened when, and with so many victims involved, this is helpful indeed. The only drawback is that I feel the book is overlong in places and could do with a little editing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I have read several books about this horrific case and this has to be one of the best in my opinion. John Bennett led the police investigation which resulted in the successful prosecution of Rosemary West for multiple murder. The book explains how the murders first came to light - a policeman was approached in the street and told that the Wests were abusing one of their children. If this hadn't been treated seriously perhaps the murders would not have come to light. It was due to the tenacity of many police officers who felt there was something more going on that the case was investigated. There had been opportunities in previous years to find out what was going on but both Rose and Fred West had managed to satisfy both Social Workers and the police that there was nothing wrong.

Ultimately it was only because the younger members of the Wet family had mentioned a family joke to Social Workers when they were in care about Heather (the oldest West child) being buried under the patio that the police actually went to Cromwell Street and started digging up the garden. It wasn't long before human remains were discovered and further excavations were undertaken. From the start the investigation the police and witnesses were hounded by the media which hampered their efforts and potentially compromised the witness's testimony. Even though Fred West gave himself up to the police and admitted Heather's murder he kept changing his story almost by the hour and the police were at a loss which story to believe - even when he sent them a not saying he had murdered at least nine young women they weren't sure whether to believe him.

I found the painstaking way the police carried out the investigation absolutely compelling reading. The way everything was pieced together to make a coherent case first against Fred West and then against his wife. The picture of two evil people manipulating everyone around them for their own satisfaction and perverse desires is horrific and the investigation must have affected everyone involved at a profound level. I was interested to read that Sir Bernard Knight did the forensic work and Brian Leveson was the prosecuting counsel. I hadn't appreciated until I read this book how close the police came to not being able to prove the case against Rose West once her husband had committed suicide.

Many of the issues which emerged from this case are still with us today - most notably the media's role in such investigation and so-called cheque-book journalism which threatened to undermine the credibility of many witnesses. The role of `appropriate adults' also came under scrutiny. Social Services' work was also put under the microscope because many of the young women who passed through Cromwell Street had been in care. The case also led to a review of the missing person enquiries are conducted and as a direct result over a hundred people were traced who had formerly been listed as missing with many of them revealed as alive and well though not wishing to be reunited with their families.

The book contains an comprehensive timeline and a report of a complaint made by a potential witness in the case who alleged wrong doing by the police. If you haven't yet read any other books about this case then start with this one and then move on to the others which are written about the Wests themselves such as Fred and Rose by Howard Sounes or Happy Like Murderers by Gordon Burn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2014
Very good account of the way the police dealt with this gruesome case. It must have been hard and frustrating with the likes of Fred WesT for ever changing their story and showing contempt for the police and thought he was more clever than the police. It told how the police pulled together in every aspect imaginable to get justice for the victims and to convict those responsible for the most gruesome of crimes ever. It must have been so hard for the police to deal with their private lives while dealing with this dreadful case.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2013
Amazing write up of the incredible work that went into this complicated series of events as well as how the senior investigating officer dealt with such a difficult case. Totally professional throughout even though this case took over his life for over a year.
Thought-provoking and extremely readable it was a really great read. Even though this case was a long time ago you can still find this book a very insightful read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 22 December 2010
As a means of setting straight the record of the route followed by the detectives - it is excellent. No hysteria, just plain cold facts.
An true insight into the evil minds and ways of that evil (yes evil ) pair
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 August 2014
Excellent read. Highly recommended if you have an interest in the Cromwell Street murders. The reader is left with a full understanding of the decisions and reasons for decisions that the enquiry team took. Praise must surely go to all those that put their lives on hold to bring justice for those who tragically lost their lives at the hands of Fred and Rosemary West.
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on 7 May 2013
Interesting to read the detective's story which tells it as it is. A great improvement on the version I read originally which possibly strayed from the truth on occasion. John Bennett makes an excellent job of this imo, his attention to detail is easy to follow and I like the fact that he gives credit where it is due to members of his hard-working team. This possibly was one of the worst crimes to investigate in terms of working conditions alone, putting tremendous strain on everyone involved in obtaining justice for Fred and Rose West's victims..A harrowing story, but sensitively written by the man who led the investigation team..Recommended read for true crime buffs..
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on 27 January 2013
I remember seeing this on the news and in the papers at the time,and thinking how awful it was and the length of time they were committing their crimes for makes you shudder! You just think "how many more serial killers are there out there that the police don't know about" , after reading this book the west were a nice,friendly hardworking couple that everyone liked! Chilling! This book is interesting written by the detective on the case at the time!
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on 17 November 2014
If you have read another book on this subject or are keen on criminology then this is an interesting adjunct to other books on the subject. It is a boring book in some senses because it covers every detail of police procedure over the course of the investigation. However it also provides a different perspective and some added details I had not read before. A bit pompous and self congratulatory but worth reading.
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