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Frenzy!: How the tabloid press turned three evil serial killers into celebrities Paperback – 30 Aug 2012

3.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; Reprint edition (30 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099557762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099557760
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,261,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"It serves as a brilliant joint biography of three serial killers, although four people here get hanged for the relevant deaths, pointing out all the similarities, differences, and noting just how close the cases were at times, geographically as well as historically. The style of writing Root uses is very compelling – I certainly found myself having a very late dinner the evening I started this book...Which brings me to why I did like this book – to repeat, for the friendly yet authoritative writing, and the exactly correct level of detail and insight into the murders, their victims of course, and the culprits. And now, having read this as avidly as any decent true crime book, I know a lot more about the interesting and very bizarre details behind those news headlines of old." (The Bookbag)

Book Description

Three notorious serial killers. The press out of control. Police with their hands in the till. Judges and judiciary more concerned about private clubs and public image than the law. Sounds like a thriller? It is and it's all true.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Sept. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the story of three serial killers, Heath, Haigh and Christie, and how the popular press at the time made them celebrities. The murders take place over a period stretching from WWII to the early 1950's and the author spends most of the book describing the crimes committed by these men. I know very little about any of the murders, so I am unable to comment on how correct this information is, but certainly the author provides a very readable account of what happened. The problem really occurs when he turns his attention to the press, or "the murder squad" as the famous crime reporters of the time were known. Although we hear of Norman Rae from the News of the World or Henry Proctor from the Sunday Pictorial, actual evidence from the trials is slim and there are only sketchy details of deals made between journalists and the condemned men for their stories. It is true that until a law was passed stopping criminals from financially benefitting from their crimes, they were able to make deals with the press, but I am unsure how these lurid details truly made these men celebrities. It seemed to me that Heath and Haigh's good looks and easy personalities (unless they were attempting to murder someone obviously) were more likely to be the reason why women flocked to the courtroom, although the press made them aware of who the men were and what they had done.

Overall, this is an interesting read, although I don't feel the author really managed to write the book he wanted to. As a true crime book it is an interesting account of three murderers and their crimes, but once the men have been arrested there is little to give you a sense of how the press changed anything.
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Format: Paperback
Having read another book of Root's about a subject I knew little, I was not expecting much from a topic about which I know rather more.

The good points are that the book is well written, well organised and reads easily. There is an index and a bibliography. The book has 1944-1953 as a time line and covers the murders of the three protagonists in a chronological structure. I am not certain why it doesn't begin in 1943 with the first known murder of any of these, but plumps for Haigh's first murder (1944) not Christie's of 1943. It is also good that the crimes of these three men, though decades old, are kept fresh in the public mind as they are dramatic as ever - and horrifying.

However, the research is minimal indeed. As another reviewer notes, this is largely a cut and paste job from other authors, such as Ludovic Kennedy and Edward Marston. This has two problems. First of all, it ensures that there is virtually nothing new here, except for a few comments about a handful of tabloid journalists who were involved. Secondly, the author rehashes a host of myths, repeated from previous authors, some of whom were equally sloppy in their research. There is no reason for any of this. The author notes the excellent website 10 Rillington Place in his bibliography and this refutes lots of the old legends of the Christie case and the street itself, yet Root manages to igbore all that and keeps to the old errors - eg Ruston Mews is the old Rillington Place - it isn't. There are lots of other errors of fact. There are also omissions - Evans confessed to three other people as well as CI Jennings, as Root must have known if he has read John Eddowes' book, which is in the bibliography, but presumably he hasn't or is supressing quite relevant evidence.
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Format: Paperback
This book was particularly interesting for me as Harry Procter was my maternal grandad. Although he passed away five years before i was born he remains a legend in our family.

The book alternates between telling the story of the murders in fairly graphic (although not by todays standards!) way and the way the press reacted to them. I loved the way Harry Procter was described and for me gave me an outside perspective of the man and his achievements. The book is well written and easy to follow. A macabre insight into the twisted minds of three infamous serial killers.
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The trouble with books like this is that if you have no prior knowledge of the subject you will believe what you read and be misinformed - or, if you do already have some knowledge, you will simply wonder why people just recycle all the age-old nonsense without bothering to do even the basic research needed to make the information more reliable.

As regards the 10 Rillington Place murders not even the most fundamental errors have been avoided even though all the research and information is readily available - for free - on the authoritative website (10-rillington-place dot co dot uk) which the author cites as one of his reference sources!

Sloppy and factually inaccurate - only the fluid writing style saves this from a one star rating.
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Frenzy is well paced, written, and structured, evoking a great feeling of the London of the time. I found Root's style very effective - by developing one story to a critical point, then leaving it to continue with another, he is able to create a surprising amount of suspense. That the subject matter - the dubious methods that journalists will employ to get a story - happens to be so topical is a timely coincidence. Very enjoyable, and accessible to anyone not steeped in true crime lore. Highly recommended.
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