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The Devil and Miss Jones: Twisted Mind of Myra Hindley Hardcover – 1 Mar 1993
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Reproduces Hindley's writings and includes revelations on the murders she committed with Ian Brady. Janie Jones, a successful recording artist, who was labelled Britain's top society vice queen, here adds her voice to the campaign to keep Myra Hindley locked away for ever.
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Janie Jones goes to great lengths to persuade us she hated Myra Hindley on sight and refused to have anything to do with her in prison, claiming Hindley pursued her and won her round. They became devoted friends. Her account may be true but I was left suspecting the lady doth protest too much... She enjoyed a lot of publicity through her association with Hindley and as she is no shy wallflower, one can't help feeling it suited her quite well to befriend someone so infamous.
She later campaigned for Hindley's release alongside the likes of Lord Longford but subsequently changed her mind and denounced her as evil and manipulative. Who would've thought it?
The book is an entertaining read, giving some insights into Hindley's character and her undoubted ability to charm and control those around her. It is also a window on life in a women's prison which all these years later can still shock the uninitiated. Some of the photos of Janie Jones posing with vintage celebrities of the 'Sixties and 'Seventies including Bruce Forsyth and Christine Keeler are very camp! She puts me in mind of a cut price Diana Dors. The book is a strange mixture of Myra Hindley's macabre pedigree and Janie Jones' showbiz pretentions. An interesting if rather odd book.
Like Lord Longford, Janie Jones was once a very vocal supporter of Myra Hindley, speaking up for her in the media and on television in a campaign to free this so-called 'misunderstood' woman from prison. In 1986, Ian Brady confirmed the long held suspicion that the couple had murdered another two children as opposed to three, and had also buried them on Saddleworth Moor. Hindey finally realised that the public (unlike Janie and Longford) weren't buying the 'Innocent Myra' act, and admitted her guilt in these monstrosities after almost twenty years in a police confession. Now that it had become obvious that she had been fooled by Hindley's lies, an embittered Jones set out on writing and published 'The Devil and Miss Jones' in 1993.
Jones herself was a lady with baggage. She'd been a little-known cabaret singer in London nightclubs since the late 1950s, and struck lucky with her first recording, the novelty hit 'Witch's Brew'. It became a minor chart hit in 1966, the year Hindley and Brady were sent to prison, and although this book's flap says it was a top 20 hit, the official British charts say different, stating that it in fact only reached no.46. Nevertheless, it led to appearances on various TV shows, and she released a string of further singles, although none of them were to make an impact. Nevertheless, in her capacity as a small-time celebrity, she encountered real stars, and is seen on the back on the book pictured with Bruce Forsyth and Max Bygraves.
But it wasn't for her singing that Janie became famous for, it was for scandal. She had briefly been in the news for wearing a topless dress at a film premier in 1964, and in 1971 she encountered the law after her involvement in the BBC Radio One 'sex for airplay' payola scandal, of which she was cleared of. She was however, found guilty of controlling prostitutes and sent to prison in 1973, remaining behind bars for four years. The Punk band The Clash paid tribute to her with their song 'Janie Jones', and in 1982 front-man Joe Strummer wrote her a song, 'The House of the Ju-Ju Queen', which the band also played on. This was an unusual, but fairly credible record that was released as a single, but received no airplay due to it's lyrical content, and sank without trace. At the time of this book's release, Janie was planning on returning to music with an album, but this never materialised.
Whilst in Holloway Prison, Janie met and befriended the infamous Myra Hindley. She potentially saved Hindley's life inside, when a girl launched an attack on her, and she describes how the murderess set out in befriending her. Despite what other books might say about the two of them being very close (she denies the claims by author Jean Ritchie that the two of them ever had a sexual relationship) Jones goes to great lengths to persuade us that she initially wanted nothing to do with Myra, and when the two began talking, she simply humoured her (if we can believe Janie, she did go through an awful lot of questioning to Hindley, and much scepticism before believing lies), and eventually, acting as some kind of amateur psychologist, set about to discover the truth. The things that Hindley told her about her involvement in the moors case are printed here in full, and as she comes across as very naive and gullible (a bit of an idiot really to use an unkind term), it makes it rather easy to see how the murderess was able to pull the wool over her eyes for so long. She hated another child killer, Mary Bell, who comes across as a truly evil creature from Janies' recollections, and I seriously question whether she should have ever been freed from prison, never mind be allowed to keep her baby on the evidence of what's written.
With the large mugshot of Hindley presented on the book cover, overshadowing the small photo of Jones on the right hand side, it appears that the book's main selling point was indeed her personal take on Hindley. However, it relies on extracts from Hindley's repetitive letters to her, and the skimpy 'background' information that's given on the moors case could have been researched fairly quickly and handed in as a school essay. Having said this, it does provide further insight into just how devious Myra Hindley was, she became '' the finest actress in the land'' to quote Janie, and her observations of her are interesting. Although the author clearly intended this book to rise her profile, re-launch her career and earn a few quid, it was the first first-hand account of Hindley, and exposed her for what she was at a time when she was still hoping for parole, so some good came out of it.
Also, if we can believe (and I do) the things Janie says about her husband, the songwriter John Christian Dee and what he did to her, and all the set ups and dirty tricks so-called ''friends'' and police played to seal her fate leading up to her prison sentence, you can't really blame her for wanting to tell her side of the story for once, and to get it all out there, she'd certainty been through the mill and let down by the people in her life.
Now, what made her memoirs so unintentionally entertaining is Janie Jones' egotism which comes through on what was almost every page at one point, and it really made me laugh. She described herself at the end as 'Nice Queen Janie' instead of 'Vice Queen Janie', and how she became 'The prisoners' equivalent to Oprah Winfrey' (she could do her job just as well!), after previously thinking of herself as ''Britain's answer to Bette Midler''. By her own admission, this down-to-earth County Durham-born lass was always the one who all the female prisoners turned to for support and conversation, she always was their idol (oh what an honour it was for people to ''gaze at my beauty''), and she's also a psychic as well! I lost count of how many people ''loved'' and ''obsessed'' over her. A legend in her own mind, but that made me warm to her.
This is an interesting, but very strange book, and surprisingly laugh-out-loud funny on several occasions. It offers an alternative look at life in the Sixties, revealing the truth behind the scandalous newspaper headlines she faced, providing insight into life in women's prisons, and of course, the evil Myra Hindley. The only thing stopping me from rating it four stars instead of three, is that it is fairly badly written, reading like a teenager's essay in parts, and Janie deserved a better co-author because this is one hell of a unique, one of a kind story. If you are interested in the moors murders case, and are considering buying 'The Devil and Miss Jones' purely for that aspect, you should first try Carol Ann Lee's superb Hindley biography 'One of Our Own' for a real history lesson on what happened on the moors, and then return to this account of Janie's former 'friendship' with Britain's most hated women.
I would advise reading some of the previous accounts of the Hindley case prior to reading this - it almost serves as a supplement detailing post conviction analysis to which it really is best have a ground knowledge to begin with, but, that excepted, an interesting read.
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