4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Different times different world,
This review is from: Handsome Brute: The True Story of a Ladykiller (Hardcover)
Murders in the past had a dramatic outcome in that it was literally a matter of life and death. You learn a lot about how society used to run if you read factual accounts of old murders.
Neville Heath committed two murders in the 1940s and as a result was hanged for them. Hardly the mass serial killers that we hear about today but the details of the world that they were committed it I find fascinating. I particularly like the stories because they are talking about Britain during a time when society was much more murdered and people used to have a much more agreed idea of what was right and wrong.
Also there was not pornography on demand so most people would have had a very limited view of what happened outside their immediate experience.
Sean O'Connor has very successfully researched the backgrounds to both the crime and the period in which they were set. The war had changed people's views and certainly their experiences.
People were still respectful of characters who had been officers and acted like officers so Heath was able to get away with things because people could not believe or did not want to believe that a war hero officer would act dishonourably. He would wear a variety of uniforms and medals some of which he was entitled to. Because he had war service he knew the chat and the slang so therefore could easily convince those who me him that he was the real thing which he was because he had been commissioned three times and had been on ops and had baled out of an aircraft.
He had been to a grammar school and knew who to talk properly and act properly so he was able to fit in with ease.
He seemed to be able to easily create a new persona in a period of identity cards which was surprising that no one checked. People wanted to believe he was who he said as he was so convincing with his war stories and suavity. He definitely knew how to woo women and literally bend them to his will.
It was never really established why he became a sadist apart from his traumatic experiences and he claimed that he had blackouts and when the crime was described to him that he had no recollection. He di8dnt bother pleading insanity and just took it as if he were on an op that he wasn't going to come back from.
If you are interested in murders, the legal system and British social history this is the book for you. He briefly tells us what happened to the characters after the murders. He had a son who went on to have a normal life and may well still be alive today.
My criteria for a good book is how fast I read it and whether I would read it again. I read it in a couple of days and I would happily read it again.