Editor’s Picks: 5 Intriguing Stories of Real Life Crime

Few stories are more morbidly fascinating than those about real life criminals and what makes them commit heinous acts. The following titles will satisfy your curiosity and provide hours upon hours of captivating storytelling. Learn about murderers, robbers, serial killers, and more with these true crime books.


Notorious Murders of the Twentieth Century 
9781845631307The word ‘murder’ has always attracted widespread local and national media coverage. Once known, the story becomes the subject of discussion in a variety of places throughout the land. Some grisly tales become part of a culture that lives on for generations, whilst others, even by some of the worst serial killers, are soon forgotten.
In this book experienced crime historian Stephen Wade has gathered together a collection of murders covering the entire twentieth century. Although famous in their own day, most are now forgotten by the general public, apart from the best true crime enthusiasts. The first conviction for fingerprint evidence, the last hanging in England, and murderous husbands and wives are included; but there are also mysteries, unsolved killings, and peculiar confessions. Meet the man who poisoned his rival’s scones, a wrongful arrest, and the acquittal of a good wife who shot her man dead. There are even tales from the Isle of Man, whose legislators continued to issue death penalties in the 1990s.
Buy it here $24.95

Scotland Yard’s Ghost Squad 
9781848844513When the Second World War ended, England was bombed-out and starving, with practically every saleable commodity rationed. It was the age of austerity and criminal opportunity. Thieves broke into warehouses, hijacked trucks, and ransacked rail yards to feed the black market; others stole, recycled, or forged ration coupons. Scotland Yard was 6,000 men under strength but something dramatic had to be done – and it was.
Four of the Yard’s best informed detectives were summoned to form the Special Duties Squad and were told: “Go out into the underworld. Gather your informants. Do whatever is necessary to ensure that the gangs are smashed up. We will never ask you to divulge your sources of information. But remember – you must succeed.”
They did. Divisional Detective Inspector Jack Capstick, a brilliant thief-taker and informant runner; Detective Inspector Henry Clark, who knew the south London villains as few other detectives did and in addition, possessed a punch ‘like the kick of a mule’; and Detective Sergeants Matt Brinnand and John Gosling, who topped the Flying Squad wartime arrests, both individually and collectively. In under four years they arrested 789 criminals, solved 1,506 cases, and recovered stolen property valued at £250,000 – or £10 million by today’s standards, with the aid of their informants, undercover officers, and their own, unsurpassed ability.
The Special Duties Squad was a one-off. How the four officers accomplished their task is divulged in this thrilling book, using hitherto unseen official documents and conversations from people who were there.
Buy it here $24.95

Serial Killers: The World’s Most Evil 
9781845631185On an internationally acknowledged ‘Scale of Evil’, these are the world’s worst serial killers. The qualifications for entry to this list of the vilest criminals of all time are a propensity for sadism, torture, and murder without a shred of remorse.
Using expert evidence, this book looks behind the shocking headlines and delves into the minds of monsters. What drove them to crime? What turned seemingly ordinary members of society into sick slayers? How did they self-justify their heinous deeds? And, quite simply, how did they get away with murder?
Included in this catalog of the world’s most evil killers are men who committed crimes so monstrous that they almost defy belief – yet to their neighbors and work colleagues, these men seemed quite normal.
Dennis Rader was a respected pillar of society, yet set out on nightly killing sprees. David Parker Ray was just an ‘average working guy’ but had a torture chamber in his backyard. Fred and Rose West raised a large extended family, yet violently abused and murdered their own children.
These are examples of the killers who sank to the darkest depths of depravity. Find out what made them such monsters in Serial Killers: The World’s Most Evil.
Buy it here $39.95

Criminal Women 
9781845631116Women have sometimes been seen as less criminally inclined than men. But, as John Eddleston shows in this revealing anthology of female crimes in London, this image is hard to mesh with reality, for the city’s history is crowded with cases of women who broke the law. In vivid detail he reconstructs a series of dramatic, often harrowing cases in which women were involved, and puts their acts in the context of their times. Taking episodes from the eighteenth century to near the present day, he looks at criminal women of all types, from all walks of life. The work of the London police, the courts, and the prisons is an essential element in his study, and each chapter reveals much about how attitudes to crime and punishment have changed over the centuries.
Fascinating portraits of these criminal women as individuals emerge from their stories – their cases come to life, as does the London in which they lived. They include Catherine Hayes who was burnt alive for murdering her husband, three women hanged on the same day for highway robbery, two women executed for rioting, Anne Hurle and Charlotte Newman who were both hanged for forgery, Florence Bravo who was sensationally acquitted of murder, and perhaps most famous of all, Ruth Ellis whose execution in 1955 provoked an outcry against capital punishment.
Buy it here $32.95

The Real World of Sherlock 
9781445637648Ever wondered where Conan Doyle got his inspiration for the literary sleuth? Was there a real Study in Scarlet in Victorian London? What baffled Victorian police detectives?
In The Real World of Sherlock, B. J. Rahn explores the world that Sherlock emerged from and the inspirations behind the character himself. Holmes is a man known for his eccentricities – his reclusiveness and the aura of genius have become trademarks today, and are recognizable in any Holmes adaptation. This book reveals the men who inspired that iconic persona. Among them are Dr. Joseph Bell, Conan Doyle’s role model and an investigator of disease and crime, and the writer Edgar Allan Poe, who invented the detective story as we recognize it today.
Rahn also takes a fascinating look at crime and detection in nineteenth-century London. She explores how the work of police detectives and CSI evolved in this era, from footprint analysis and human blood testing, to fingerprinting and crime-scene photography. But did Sherlock make use of these emerging techniques in his investigations?
This is the perfect book for any Sherlock fan who wants to find out about the background to the character and the world of detection from which the stories emerged. You’ll be astonished at just how real Sherlock was.
Buy it here $34.95

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