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Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer Paperback – 4 Jul 2013
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"Reads like a real-life Scandinavian crime novel" (Elizabeth Day Observer)
"It's appalling, it's true, and it's utterly phenomenal reading" (Leif GW Persson)
"The case of convicted serial killer Thomas Quick is an absolutely amazing story, which if it weren't true, you would not believe. In his gripping account, Hannes Råstam reveals the most extraordinary series of failures and credulity on the part of the so-called criminal justice experts. Piece by piece, Råstam strips away the evidence against Quick until there is nothing left but the awful question of how he was ever convicted of murder, not just once but eight times" (Alex McBride author of Defending the Guilty)
"Memorable" (Ed Caeser The Sunday Times)
"The book is a superb work of journalism. Råstam sadly died last year from cancer, but he would no doubt be proud to have this as his legacy" (Killing Time Crime)
"The book is at its best when the quick-witted Råstam is in charge, asking the right questions, cutting through the lies and getting to the bottom of things. In fact, our intrepid investigative sleuth, with his barely concealed excitement and curious reporter's glee is one of the most delightful things about this book" (We Love this Book)
'Sweden's most suspenseful murder mystery may not be a fictional account from Stieg Larsson or Henning Mankell. It may end up being the true story of Thomas Quick' The Wall Street JournalSee all Product description
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In my mind, it's important to make a division in this review namely because I found the book to be of far less interest than the case itself. As a Swedish friend of mine who grew up hearing about the case pointed out, Rastam died during the writing of this book and his assistant was forced to finish it. Although the exact overlap or moments of transition between the two authors can only ever be speculative, there were instances where I felt it was obvious.
The book begins with an excellent 160 pages+ which are written extremely well and seemed to breeze past. Around this mark however, the book makes a descent. It begins to become extremely detail-oriented and is not aided by the the extremely staccato style which at times often felt like an extremely long and elaborate list of bullet points. To my mind, at least, this betrays perhaps the assistant's unfamiliarity with the subject matter and a desire to convey everything that Rastam had garnered over his obsessive (not pejorative) investigation. The book continues to do this for many of Quick's cases (which were ultimately very similar) and for me, it really stunned the pace and diluted tension. At these points, I found it best to let the details wash over me and unless you are an aspirational detective or a manic details-hund, you would do best to follow suit or risk being inundated with repetition. The book's approach to reinforcing it's premise (that a miscarriage of justice had occurred) was nothing short of exhaustive and verged on insecurity (likely that of the assistant to do right by Rastam).
Speaking of tension, the primary "turn" or reveal of the mystery outlined in the blurb is done within the first 200 pages (i.e. what motivated Quick). I can't discuss it in too much detail without giving it away but the book could have been chronologically structured in a far more effective and novelistic manner. As such, this stifling of tension meant perhaps the only thing that kept me reading was a general interest in the case which is in itself nothing short of fascinating. (EDIT: However, I've since been told by aforementioned Swedish friend that the people of Sweden were hearing about Quick's case almost daily so for them, the main mysteries lied in the unravelling of the cases as Rastam has done.) As you progress through the book, you wonder how such an extensive perversion could take place and wonder what the people responsible were truly thinking. This is where the terror of the case truly lies along with the fact that those responsible for the murders Quick confessed to are still at large.
That said, there is an invaluable lesson at the heart of this grisly fable. This book is far greater than the sum of its parts as there is real virtue to be gleaned in the form of an upgrade or at very least a reinforcement of your own critical faculties. For myself, it reminded me to always question and never accept information at face value; to stay critical.
The Thomas Quick case is absolutely enthralling but whether the book is the optimum vessel for conveying it, I don't know as I'm yet to find an English-subtitled version of Rastam's SVT documentaries.
Still, this book is a must for anyone interested in true crime and the functioning (or not) of legal systems.
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