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Killer in The Shadows: The Monstrous Crimes of Robert Napper: 1 Paperback – 12 Jan 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Pennant Books Ltd (12 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190601521X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906015213
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 23.5 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 421,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


It is refreshing to find a book that shows real insight into its subject matter. Too many true crime books written by policemen, psychologists and pathologists simply end up as a chronological story of what happened, which sheds no new light at all. Alison and Eyre, as behavioural investigative advisers, get as far under the skin of serial killer Robert Napper as most of us would care to go. His horrific murders of Rachel Nickell and Samantha Bissett, not to mention Samantha's four year old daughter, rocked a nation hardened to media distorted violence. Patiently and with a great deal of understanding, the authors unravel the case against Napper and the 'honeytrap' police operation that put Colin Stagg in the frame. They use their professional expertise not only to explain what makes serial killers like Napper tick, but how such killings affect everyone involved, from eyewitnesses to policemen, journalists and bereaved family members. What is truly inspirational about Killer in the Shadows is the way it systematically demolishes our preconceptions and assumptions, urging us to test ourselves with statistical puzzles that are simply fascinating. It was a sobering experience for me, as a true-crime writer, to discover that I only got 10% of the answers right! The book is a gem; treat yourself and read it. --M. J. Trow, author of Jack the Ripper: Quest for a Killer

This is an excellent book which pushes and refines the true crime genre by combining popular but academic psychology and a real life case. It is filled with insight and observation, but written in such a way as to allow the non specialist to gain just as much as a student of criminology or psychology. --David Wilson, Professor of Criminology, Centre for Criminal Justice Policy and Research, Birmingham City University

This is a wonderful book that works on so many levels and which both the general and more 'expert' reader will enjoy. It teaches us much about people, from the almost demonic to the truly heroic, containing compelling, quietly, sensitively told stories of human frailty, resilience and compassion in the face of the utmost awful adversity. It completely avoids the sentimental, salacious or sensational, favouring instead carefully balanced observations on the terrible crimes of Robert Napper and on the people whose lives he changed forever. Their humbling stories are interwoven with plentiful, learned insights into decision making. It might serve as a handbook for anyone who has to make decisions in complex, perhaps politically charged situations, like police officers (in this case), magistrates and other professionals or indeed for journalists who report them. This book is brimming with facts, ideas and insights, yet is an easy read. It will draw you in and may even move you to tears. --Stephen Ackers, Dept. of Civic Design, University of Liverpool --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

It may be useful to link this book to 'Monster' by Allan Hall, published by Penguin books, as well as 'The Complete History of Jack the Ripper' by Phillip Sugden. The former is a useful link since it covers a case of a sadist, the latter useful because the Napper case is a modern day jack the Ripper.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In December 2008 justice was finally served for the infamous and brutal murder in July 1992 of Rachel Nickell, killed in broad daylight in front of her young son on Wimbledon Common by Robert Napper. Napper has been confined in Broadmoor hospital for the criminally insane for the murders of Samantha and Jazmine Bissett for a number of years, and finally DNA evidence instigated him admitting to killing Rachel - a crime for which he had watched an innocent man spend time in prison and become a national pariah.

This is an excellent book which not only tells the story of the crime and long fight for justice, but also looks at the psychology of the killer in some depth. As another reviewer says, this means the book works on many levels and is accessible to both the general reader and the true crime "buff" like myself, with the balance between detail and a readable writing style spot on.

The style of the authors is highly readable and so the account holds the attention from the start. The book also includes some more "interactive" parts where the reader can get involved and is challenged to assess their own attitudes to crime and investigative skills. This was an element of the book which I have never seen elsewhere before and which I really enjoyed, and it certainly made me think in depth about the issues raised as a result.

The account presented is very balanced, not the type of sensationalist "journalistic" style of writing which fills some true crime books and which one might have expected from an account of such an infamous case. Even the discussion of other crimes which may have been committed by Napper is very reasonable, balanced and takes into account the evidence, or lack of, which connects him to the crimes.
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Format: Paperback
Killer in The Shadows: The Monstrous Crimes of Robert Napper: 1This isn't your average serial-killer book. Not only does it concern itself with the actions and mind of serial rapist and multiple murder, Robert Napper, but also with the highly flawed police investigation that failed to bring him to justice for the Wimbledon Common killing in the 1990s. For anyone who wants answers as to why the police single-mindedly pursued the innocent Colin Stagg, leaving Napper free to commit at least two further murders, this book is essential reading. Co-author, Laurence Alison, was involved in Colin Stagg's defence at his aborted trial and this clearly allows the book to talk with a greater authority than is normally so with this type of book. Of particular interest is the detailed analysis of the ridiculous `psychological profile' evidence put forward by the police's pet expert and self-styled `real-life Cracker', Paul Britton and the sham entrapment operation that spent three million pounds of the publics money. This is the book that killed `Cracker'. Recommended for all police officers thinking of calling in `profiler'.
John A. Short
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Format: Paperback
This book will give you an insight into the mind of a killer; an insight into the Police and their procedures and the justice system. The authors show how the investigation of a crime can quickly head down the wrong avenue and how the over reliance of one particular opinion can ruin the lives of others. This book is sensitively written and shows disturbingly just how some people can degrade into killers. `Killer in the Shadows' isn't your average crime book, and is not a literary sideshow of horrors to indulge certain readers grim fascination with murder. This is a very good read indeed.
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Format: Paperback
Firstly, I think there should be some distinction between this book and others in the 'true crime' genre; this one isn't written by journalists, it is written by two experts in the field of forensic psychology research, and it shows.

The thing that most impressed me about the book is probably the last chapter; so many crime books focus on the 'gory' details, but this one ends with a sensitive examination of what happens after the crime, after the trial and after the media spotlight, and explores how those left behind try to pick up the pieces. I think this demonstrates most clearly the sense of humanity that runs through the book; it is so easy from newspaper reports in the mass media to forget that every victim was a real person who was loved and is missed.

The book, understandably given the authors, approaches the topic from an academic standpoint, but this doesn't put non-psychologists at a disadvantage, as the explanations are clear and well thought-out, even when examining some complex issues around the development of offending behaviour. Not only does the book explore issues relating to Robert Napper, but also provides some insight into sexual offenders and murderers in general, which is again accessible to academics and the general public alike.

One small point to make to Amazon, however; I'm not sure, given Professor Alison's defence of Colin Stagg against the heavily criticised sting operation which was led by discredited psychologist Paul Britten, it's such a great idea to be advertising Britten's 'Picking Up the Pieces' book on the same page!
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