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Handsome Brute: The True Story of a Ladykiller Paperback – 27 Feb 2014
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O Connor restores [the] human dimension, using evidence and witness statements from previously restricted Home Office and police files - Sunday Times
BOOK OF THE WEEK: Dapper and deadly...One of the many virtues of this absorbing book is the detailed attention it gives to Heath s victim - CRAIG BROWN Mail on Sunday
In this fine book, balanced book, which spares no details but avoids any hint of salacity, O Connor has written something more valuable than a whydunnit . This is a fascinating portrait of a dreary, uncertain post-war world of drinking dens, cruddy hotels and hopes unfulfilled - BEN MCINTYRE The Times
Sean O'Connor's brilliance is to sustain the horrific dramatic tension of these murders while providing a rich and detailed context of place and period. His tone is careful and dispassionate, his research painstaking and extensive - DIANA SOUHAMI The Independent
The story of how this weak-willed conman and small-time fraudster turned from a former RAF playboy into a savagely sadistic sex killer makes fascinating reading in Sean O Connor s meticulously researched book - VIV WATTS Daily Express
An astute study... Sean O Connor s keenly intelligent book is essentially an attempt to fit these two Neville Heaths together... O Connor restores its human dimension, using evidence and witness statements from previously restricted Home Office and police files - JOHN CAREY Sunday Times
O Connor tells the whole story beautifully. It s the best true crime book I ve read for ages. His short description of Heath s execution at the hands of Albert Pierrepoint, is superb - WILLIAM LEITH Evening Standard
Drawing on previously unreleased official files, debutant biographer Sean O Connor provides fresh insight into Heath s mind and motivations DAVID CLACK Time Out
O'Connor allows a real sense of Heath's character to emerge without resorting to assumption. It is a fine read and a thoughtful investigation into the effects of war, sex and class on human behaviour
Just finished reading Sean O'Connor's excellent 'Handsome Brute', the story of the infamous killer Neville Heath. Highly recommended
'This brilliantly researched study of the brutal, sexually deviant murderer Neville Heath is chilling and mesmerising in equal measure. The portrait of a wartime hero-turned-vicious killer is compelling. This is an important book.' Sally Morris's Must Reads, Daily Mail
'This is a story about a killer, and also about a nation in post-war turmoil. It s one of the best true crime books around' --Evening Standard
About the Author
Sean O'Connor is a film producer and writer, and this is his first book.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this interesting account O'Connor makes clear that Heath was born into a loving middle-class family, educated at a public school and gave no indication as a teenager that he was capable of two terrible crimes-but then this is not all that unique.
Conceited and charming he took advantage of a society that was easilt taken in by a nice accent and good looks.
Obsessed with flying he joined the RAF but was sacked for stealing. He then joined the South African Air Force but was again kicked out. Umbelievably, he was able to rejoin the RAF (they were desparate for flyers) and he took part in Bomber Command's war time exploits. He displayed outstanding bravery on one sortie when he rescued his navigator in their burning aircraft.For this he should have been awarded a medal.
This was the same man that sadistically murdered two women after the war.
He never tried to deny the murders claiming that he had blacked out on each occasion.
Sensibly, the author does not try to explain why Heath committed these gruesome murders. No one will ever know. Those who blame his war time experiences are on very thin ground. I know many ex service personnel who went through every form of hell in battle but lived perfectly normal lives after the fighting ended.
We should also remember that between 1940 and 1945 thousands of 'normal' Germans slaughtered in camps and on the battlefield millions of innocent civilians.
What this book demonstrates is that despite advances in psychiatry we are still a very long way from being able to fathom the workings of the mind.
All three were victims of the time in which they lived. A documentary but a real page turner.
Was Heath as mad as a box of frogs? Surely no sane person could have committed the heinous sex crimes he undoubtedly did.
But wait. There was something else about Heath: the handsome, brave fighter pilot and `clubbable' rogue, that caused court after court, and woman after woman, to give him `just one more chance'. Even the women he had deceived by an empty promise of marriage forgave him.
So was he simply a callous and brutal con artist, or a sex-maniac and murderer? Or perhaps like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - both. Did he suffer the mental condition often called `split personality', referred to in psychiatry as dissociative identity disorder where within the same person there exists more than one personality?
These were questions that were never properly debated at Heath's all-too-brief appearance at the Old Bailey. Unfortunately for him, his barrister called a drug addict as an expert psychiatric witness and failed to call other witnesses who could have testified to Heath's mental condition; his defence of legal insanity failed and he was hanged.
Arguably however, that may have been just what Heath wanted. Sean O'Connor's well-written and well-researched account of Heath's life left me with a nagging feeling that Heath may have had a death wish.
Did he commit the murders because he wanted to die? Was that why he walked into a police station as a wanted man, to gamble his wits against the police? He knew that if he was caught he could never be acquitted and that the alternative was a life in Broadmoor.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very good read. There is the ongoing interest of the true story of a murderer, and his dreadful crimes, but as well as this the book is full of historical facts and human... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lincoln Imp
I bought this because there was a lot of publicity about it since Sean o'Connor is the writer responsible for the 'abusive husband' story in The Archers. I didn't like it much . Read morePublished 3 months ago by Hencarrier
Fascinating read, I could not put it down. I was aware of this murderer but had not read about him in such depth.Published 6 months ago by Sue
A really good read. Very well researched and though you know what happens in the end, it is gripping.Published 10 months ago by D P
This is a very well constructed account of terrible crimes committed by a very complex person ,the details of the crime are restricted but the detail that can be told is bad... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Mrs. S. A. M. Williams