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Killing For Company: Case of Dennis Nilsen Paperback – 1 Jun 1995

4.4 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (1 Jun. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099552612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099552611
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 2.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Killing For Company must stand as one of the most remarkable and accurate accounts ever written of the singular relationship between a mass murderer and a society. Brian Masters, in the writing, has achieved the impossible. Though dealing with sensational and horrific matters he has managed, God knows how, to treat his material with such objectivity and restraint that what we have is not a penny dreadful from the Hammer House of Horror, but a bloody masterpiece" (Beryl Bainbridge Observer)

"A truly awesome tale, brilliantly told" (Literary Review)

"Probably the best thing of its kind since In Cold Blood ... a classic study in criminal mentality" (Colin Wilson Yorkshire Post)

Book Description

A groundbreaking criminal study of the serial killer and necrophiliac Dennis Nilsen. Known to himself as 'The Kindly Killer' and to a shocked society as 'The Muswell Hill Murderer', Nilsen was a psychologically disturbed mass murderer. This thrilling investigative book won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award for a non-fiction crime book.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Now this is what a true crime book is supposed to be. It's my unfortunate conclusion that the majority of true crime books are a re-hash of newspaper reporting with a bit of old-fashioned moralizing thrown in and facile, superficial conclusions regarding some of the most troubling issues that beset us to wrap things up. The books written by Mr. Masters are exceptions to this seemingly universal rule. Granted, Mr. Masters was given an unusual amount of access to Dennis Nilsen, but even when writing about an already-dead murderer like Fred West, the quality of writing and analysis never wavers or loses its inherent fascination. His style is alternately cogent, harrowing, and, despite the subject matter, scrupulously fair. Unlike most true crime books, there are no boring stretches; the book remains compelling throughout. Mr. Masters never denies the criminals he writes about their complex, warped humanity (which, in turn, makes them even more terrifying and repellent) but he also never minimizes the monstrousness of their acts. This is an exceedingly difficult accomplishment, to make such perversity even marginally explicable, but Mr. Masters handles it adroitly. Still, even in the hands of as skilled a biographer as Mr. Masters so obviously is, the sordid mystery of Dennis Nilsen remains intact, which may or may not be gratifying to the incarcerated serial killer but should unsettle the rest of us. How did such malignancy and evil evolve from so uneventful a life? How long would this bland civil servant with his rigid personality have been able to go on killing gay men undetected if he hadn't grown so self-destructively careless? How many others like him are there out in the world now and to what new levels of atrocity will their pathologies extend in the future?Read more ›
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By A Customer on 26 May 2001
Format: Paperback
Brian Masters delivers a very interesting and detailed account of Dennis Andrew Nilsen, the almost alcoholic civil servant who could only find peace with the dead bodies of young, often vagrent, men. He details Nilsen's background and childhood very well and this provides a large insight into why he became what he is today.
I was constantly moved by Masters' portrayal of Nilsen's life, despite the crimes that he committed. Nilsen was someone who experienced no real love or affection in his life and because of this, he closed his emotions and became "cold". One can easily understand why he did what he did.
This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the psychology of serial killers and it presents a warning to society of what might become of the unloved.
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Format: Paperback
At times, this book is hard going. I knew the story of Nilsen prior to reading, and so had an idea of what to expect in terms of the content of the murders. And to be honest, the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer make for even more unpleasant reading. That is not to diminish the evil of this man, just to say that it is not one long sqeam-fest.

I took issue with 2 points. Firstly, Nilsen is an egoistic man who delights in talking about himself. He enjoys the analysis, attention and 'fame', and events in recent years (demanding gay pornography, fight to publish his autobiography, letter to the Evening Standard detailing the first murder)have done nothing to change my mind on this point. Masters points out that Nilsen's work colleagues & few friends tired of his constant protesting & inability to know when to shut up. This very much shines through in the book. Essentially he came across as a tedius man, too locked in his own solice. Retrospectively he has manipulated the evidence to create his own 'version' of events, & this makes me disbelieve lots of what he has to say.

Secondly, Masters comes across, especially at the beginning of the book, as someone fixated on creating a 'setting'. Some of his narrative is tedius, the descriptions of a Scottish childhood especially kitch - I cannot imagine many Scots identifying with the romantic imagery he presents us. Neither did I go for the 'heartfelt' summaries of the lives of some of the victims - sometimes they are so embroiled in crime & drugs no amount of prose can presnt them as 'young boys with a potentially bright future ahead of them'.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Killing for Company by Brian Masters

‘Killing for Company’ is a biography of the life of the serial-killer, Dennis Nilsen who murdered several young men in the late seventies and early eighties. It tells the entire story of his life from childhood in the far reaches of northern Scotland, a place rife with incest apparently, to his life in the army and civil-service. Obviously, the central part of the book is focussed on his murders of several young men in the late seventies and early eighties before examining in some detail the possible reasons for these despicable crimes.

I have long been (perversely, no doubt some will say) fascinated with murder, torture and pain and the minds of those that commit such atrocities, but it is only in the last twelve months, since I have been reading some fabulous fictional works about the subject, that have started to give it some real thought. Such works include those by Joe Conlan, Graham Masterton and Chris Carter. I am enthralled with what must go on in the minds of these perpetrators and as such, I am fascinated by those novels that go into great depth about the thoughts and actions of the killer. However, they seem few and far between of late and most of the police procedurals that I have been reading have come up short by concentrating exclusively on the work of the police and detectives and barely mentioning anything done by the killer at all.
To further my curiosity and interest in this subject, I began looking up online (Wikipedia etc.) the lives and deeds of real-life serial-killers such as Peter Sutcliffe, Charles Manson and now, Dennis Nilsen. However, this never provided enough information that I could trust, so I started looking for more.
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