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Happy Like Murderers Hardcover – 1 Jan 1999

3.8 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (1 Jan. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571195466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571195466
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 0.3 x 0.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 348,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Gordon Burn has already written a book about serial killer Peter Sutcliffe so it should be no surprise (apart from wondering at his stamina for this sort of material) that he has also taken on the macabre story of the Wests. This is a vile catalogue of the manner in which Frederick and Rosemary West raped, tortured and killed. It spares none of the utterly sordid details.

Burn, who has also written two acclaimed novels (Alma Cogan and Fullalove), has opted to apply some of the techniques of fiction to this grisly task. But while this approach does raise ethical questions--he sometimes recounts scenes and emotions that only the participants, and they are dead, could have witnessed--such is his obvious seriousness of intent that these episodes can be justified in narrative terms. The vast compilation of awful but indisputable facts inevitably makes the prosaic detail of the Wests' lives, like Fred's endless DIY and Rose's Sunday lunches, almost unbearably sinister. And the ghastly details of their victims' fates are unspeakably depraved. Britain has seen nothing like this scale of domestic degradation before. But while every reader must decide for themselves how much of this they need to know, and how much they want to know, it is nevertheless right and commendable that Gordon Burn has written this chilling book and thus given people the choice. --Nick Wroe

Book Description

Happy Like Murderers by David Burke is a true crime classic republished to tie in with the ITV drama based on Fred and Rose West, Appropriate Adult. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having read, "Somebody's Father Somebody's Son: the Story of the Yorkshire Ripper," by the same author, this book was recommended to me as another true crime classic. I found the Yorkshire Ripper book very unsettling, but I think that this compelling book is even more disturbing. It tells of how Fred and Rose West - both from incestuous and dysfunctional backgrounds- met, married and killed together...

Author Gordon Burn, now sadly no longer with us, was a great writer and, in this book, he manages to create a real of sense of what both Fred and Rose West were like. The style of writing is almost chatty - a little like Fred West - garrulous, a bragger, persuasive, charming when he wanted to be. By the time Rose, not quite sixteen years old, met Fred, he had already been married, had already fathered children and had already killed. However, rather than being forced into his activities, Rose seemed more than happy to take the lead. Her violence and cruelty towards Fred's daughter by his first wife, and his step daughter, in the early days of her relationship with Fred are almost unbearable to read. Yet, still, the book gets worse. There are more children born; more cruelty, more vicious and violent attacks, abuse, killings and then the abductions, torture and murders of young women who are buried in the house and garden of Cromwell Street. Many of the young women are abducted from bus stops - indeed, it was at a bus stop that Fred first met Rose - others visit the house and one was even their eldest daughter together. Fred was a patient predator and he could spot vulnerable young girls who needed a roof under which to sleep, a kind word, some attention, a mile away. Many were in care - others chance encounters - but he was always a man with an eye on the possible chance.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the third book I have read on the West's and it is, by a clear margin, the one I liked the least. I often feel people are worried about posting negative reviews for books examining such sensitive subject matter, as if it somehow demonstrates a lack of sensitivity for the suffering endured. This shouldn't be the case; it is the quality of the book being reviewed and not the events in question.

If you are expecting this book to be a clear, concise and linear account of the Wests' history and crimes, then you will be disappointed. The first few chapters start off with quite detailed accounts of a few random players, which I wouldn't have minded so much if all the threads were pulled together, however that failed to happen in any kind of conclusive fashion. I understand the relevance of delving into Caroline Robert's background, given that she was one of the victims, but the sections concerning the previous owner of 25 Cromwell Street and her grandson did seem an odd avenue to explore in such depth.

I think the author was trying to attempt a rather colloquial style of narrative, but the writing ends up coming across as rather heavy handed with a great deal of unnecessary repetition. Unnecessary repetition not only of the same words and phrases rearranged in a different way, but also of entire paragraphs across the course of the book. I can't think of any stylistic reason for this. In addition to the excessive repetition, I recognise entire passages from other books on the subject, that have just been copied verbatim. The story itself jumps all over the place, from one point in time to another, which I think would be confusing for anyone not already familiar with the timeline of events.

Overall this book is a very frustrating and tedious read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very well researched & written but the details of these sick bastards' exploits are just to distressing for me to get thru.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An insight into those evil people. Hard to read as it's a true story. Emotional story & book .
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great read. Fans of true crime will not be disappointed. Gives a good insight into 2 of the most evil people who ever lived .
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Format: Paperback
This is by far the most detailed account of the life and crimes of Fred and Rose West. It is truly a monumental achievement - brilliantly detailed and full of incidental facts.

Burn has outdone himself with this powerful book which lays out the whole terrible story in a unique way. Excellently written in vivid shades. You are carried along on a terrifying roller coaster which does not let you off.

This is a comprehensive book which will be invaluable to anyone interested in the horrific West story and those interested in true crime.

The most horrifying aspect to this relentlessly macabre story is that it is real. All too real - this really happened. Young woman were raped, tortured and murdered in the dark cellar of an ordinary terraced house. The extreme abuse of the West children will surely mortify the reader. Its unimaginable that anyone could ever behave the way the West's did. Rose and Fred West were two primitive people divorced from reality and the normal boundaries of human life. 25 Cromwell Street was their little kingdom - a living hell for their children and victims.

Gorden Burn should be commended for writing such an excellent book.

Its important that we remember the poor victims who suffered at the hands of the West's - not least Heather West whose story will make even the hardest heart cry.

Read this book then spare a a quiet thought for those West children and the victims who survived - if this book inspires you to a good deed then something worthy will have come out from this frightening story.
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