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Cries Unheard: the Story of Mary Bell Hardcover – 8 May 1998
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Renowned journalist and biographer Gitta Sereny covered the Mary Bell case in the 1960s and wrote about it at the time. Mary, then eleven, was charged and subsequently convicted of the manslaughter of two younger boys. Now, following Mary's release on licence, and in collaboration with her, Sereny provides a thought-provoking biography of someone who was considered to have committed an evil crime of unparalleled horror. She brilliantly delves into the mind of this complex and damaged human being and reveals how little was done to investigate Mary's own troubled circumstances. A powerfully disturbing book, it will resonate with all who read it. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I found the construction of the book worked well; rather than just working through Mary's life chronologically, Sereny begins at the time of the offence, then interposes discussions with Mary with memories of her time at a remand centre and later an adult prison. Not until the end does Sereny give us any great detail about Mary's early childhood, which helps explain her later crimes. Throughout Mary's life, like an evil genius, is the corrosive presence of her mother.
My feelings on Mary remained ambivalent; an unlikeable child, yet undoubtedly traumatized for life by her experiences. But could an intelligent 11 year old REALLY not understand the finality of death? Sereny's criticisms of the legal system as regards child offenders are persuasive however.
Bell, it turns out, makes for a very difficult interviewee being at times evasive, erratic and often resorting to downright lying. One senses that the author, realising how difficult it's going to be to make this a coherent read, too often, uses the book as a platform for her thoughts and personal views and this starts to grate after a while.
All in all, I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the case and the aftermath as far as Bell is concerned but it is by no means an easy read.
The author does intrude somewhat into the writing, because, one feels she is burdened with guilt at not having replied to a letter from Mary, in which she reached out to her. That is the sad thing though, about having a job as a caring person, you cannot do that role entirely as a job, same as being a priest or a mother - it's not, or it should really be, a 'job'.
Other reviewers have written about the book's demonstration of the flaws in the British legal system. Whether a criminal is an adult or a child, the only way we can seriously reduce crime is to investigate *why* crimes are committed. If the court in this case has made as thorough investigation as Gitta Sereny then it would have uncovered not an isolated evil person, but a whole system of evil in which the humans were just mere links. Punishing Bell and no one else is totally idiotic - those that were really responsible for initiating it all still go free.
Also shown by the book is the fact that this mass psychosis doesn't just involve men with peculiar desires visiting prostitutes, but all those who stand outside courtrooms in cases like this banging on police vehicles transporting the accused, or avidly read accounts of it in popular newspapers, or lapping it up in tv programmes whilst at the same time saying how appalling it all is.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When I first heard in the Sixties of a ten year old girl killing two young boys it was horrendous but absorbing in the respect of the interest of the psychological... Read morePublished 6 months ago by David W.
great book but i could tell that mary did not regret what she did at all. She has got to live her life while those children are dead.Published 11 months ago by Ashley Izunwa
Have'nt read it yet but i'm sure it will be a good read. Thank you.Published 12 months ago by emily35b
Excellent book. Sheds light on a subject more or less unchartered.Published 16 months ago by louise m
Excellent analysis of the case. It gives a whole new perspective of Mary's character. It sounds as though she and her siblings should have been removed from their parents'... Read morePublished 18 months ago by J. L. Currie