- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper Paperback – 2 May 2006
There is a newer edition of this item:
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"A masterpiece that reads like a thriller."
From the Back Cover
For over twenty years, the dark secrets of the biggest criminal manhunt in British history have remained a closed book. Detectives refused all requests to tell the inside story of the Yorkshire Ripper investigation that logged over two million manhours of police work. The victims who survived maintained a wall of silence. And the detailed forensic evidence, witness statements and autopsy reports remained locked away.
Until now. Award-winning writer Michael Bilton has persuaded the key people to talk. After years of exhaustive research he can finally reveal the extraordinary truth behind the murder inquiry that left Peter Sutcliffe free to kill again and again.
With exclusive access to the detectives involved, to pathologists archives and confidential police reports, the story of the hunt reads as tensely as any thriller. Its measured analysis of the calamitous investigation is also a shocking and important indictment of the most notorious murder manhunt of the twentieth century.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Written in the highly readable style of a thriller, Bilton brilliantly reconstructs the whole sordid saga. He provides all of the gruesome details of the murders, giving plenty of time to the victims themselves, providing sketchy biographies of each, and revealing their final moments which ultimately led to those poor ladies' tragic ends.
He writes about the key players who were determind to put this monster behind bars, and the massive detail of which he provides is able to make the reader feel as though they are also at the thick of it. Whilst Bilton is quick to list selected members of the Ripper invesigation team's plentiful achievements, he also isn't afraid to reveal the many mistakes that these people made along the way. They had this man virtually in plain sight, and it's so frustrating to read about they, albeit unwittingly, let the murderer Peter Sutcliffe go free, and kill and kill again. For the most part, it feels as though one is reading an old-fashioned 'who-dunnit' novel, only we know who the perpetrator is already.
There are several major revelations to be found in 'Wicked Beyond Belief', making it an account like no other. One was a once top-secret report into the West Yorkshire Police's handling of the case, which had never before been published, and a vital piece of evidence which might have proven that Sutcliffe's claim that he was mentally ill was a lie, that the Old Bailey never even knew about.
Although this is a mammoth book at almost 800 pages in length, it is a well-written page-turner which, despite the awfulness of the subject, isn't difficult to speed through. Anyone with an interest in true crime and police procedure will find it incredibly insightful, and satisfying.
Michael Bilton provides a useful 'whos-who's' at the start of the book, along with a chronology of the major events, and a map of Peter Sutcliffe's killing grounds. The Appendixes contains the written confession from the killer himself, which provides his own account of how he lured and murdered each of his victims, and subsequent police statements conducted between January to February 1981. Everything is numbered and sourced together in a list of text notes and references, and a comprehensive index can be found at the back. There are three inserts of eight paged black and white photographs, mostly of the slain women and the sites of where their bodies were discovered, and the police team.
The name of the book is Michael Bilton's own description of Peter Sutcliffe, a man of whom he has no desire to ever interview. It is probably because of his natural revulsion against the man, that he decided to include very few pictures of Peter, and more importantly, reveals very little about him as a person. This is the only (very) minor criticism that I have, is that a bit more back story surrounding who he was and what he did prior to killing, would have been useful, and helped the reader to understand him a bit better, even if it was only a chapter. Thankfully, author Gordon Burn did this brilliantly with his book : Somebody's Husband, Somebody's Son: The Story of the Yorkshire Ripper, which makes a good companion. Edit: As the author Micheal Bilton himself who has commented on my review states, this was a deliberate choice on his part. His aim was to ''place the reader in the shoes of the detectives'', and although the reader knows who the killer was, the detectives for so many years did not.
'Wicked Beyond Belief' was originally published in 2003, but was given an update eight years later which, amongst several other new things, provides the revelation of who the infamous 'Wearside Jack' really was. John Samuel Humble was finally brought to justice in 2006, for the sick and childish prank which went a very long way in derailing the investigation, and cost the lives of further victims.
As I've said previously, this is a model true crime book, and what should become obvious almost immediately, is that this isn't you're standard, over scandalised garbage which any old hack decides to quickly cobble together to make a fast buck. 'Wicked Beyond Belief' was written for better reasons other than to get some money, it provides an important story told with care and accuracy, with revelations that needed to be told, and reminds us all of the horror that Peter Sutcliffe's evil acts had on so many people, as well as informing us of the tireless, but frustrating police work which was going on behind the scenes. This is a five star work, and Michael Bilton should be congratulated for it. A modern classic in the world of true crime literature I feel.
With hindsight the ripper should have been caught several years before he was, and the book highlights in great detail the flaws in the investigation, the various blind alleys that were followed to no avail and most of all how back in the 1970's the lack of the scientific and technologocial processes (DNA and Computers) we take for granted, made this extraordianry manhunt such an onerous endeavour. That being said, some of the decisions made by detectives and the powers that be were woeful and the fact that peter Sutcliffe was actually interviewed 9 times! over the course of his 6 year reign of terror, but nothing was done, beggars belief and highlights the communication flaws and general narrow mindedness/clutching at straws mentality that plagued the investigation.
Although I knew what the outcome was, the book raced through at an exciting pace and left me feeling excited, frightened, appalled, angry and stupified simultaneously.
Not for the faint hearted, but a terrific read all the same.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Author/journalist Michael Bilton, in this book, covers every aspect of the life and crimes...Read more
Look for similar items by category