In this book, criminologist Dr Paul Wilson and author Amanda Howard attempt to examine whether or not social, economic and cultural factors contribute toward the making of predators rather than dwelling entirely on the psychological aspects which are often later claimed to have been the driving forces behind the actions of those who become sexual predators and serial killers.
In order to do this they review the case files of several notorious sexual predators and serial killers from across the globe.
In the process of doing so, Wilson and Howard detail each and every act of depravity committed upon the victims of the perpetrators they review , in a shockingly graphic way.
“The killer drove her to a secluded area where he sexually abused her, using a knife to inflict horrific injuries on the girl’s body, before disembowelling her while she was still alive.” (murder and rape of a 12-year-old girl quoted directly from “Predators – killers without a conscience”).
“He dragged the girl’s dying body…blood still dripping from the wound in her throat…then cut the crotch out of her swimmers and raped her dying body”.(murder and rape of a 15-year-old girl quoted directly from “Predators – killers without a conscience”)
As can be seen from the quotes immediately above and below, the vast majority of the contents of this book should be considered carefully as it is not suitable reading for those who are either sensitive toward descriptions of acts of violence or those who are younger than 18.
“She was hog-tied on the ground. I walked around to her left side and I cut her throat two or three times…but she just started thrashing around on the ground. She was trying to scream but nothing was coming out. I kicked her and put my foot on her to keep her still. It didn’t work so I stabbed her in the throat again. I aimed and stabbed at the hard thing (her windpipe) in her neck. I pushed the knife all the way in but she still wouldn’t keep still so I worked out where the heart would be and I stabbed her on the left side of the chest. She still didn’t stop moving so I stabbed her in the chest. I needed two hands to get through her chest. She kept moving so I kicked her in the head a couple of times. She still kept moving but she was slowing down. I waited.” (Confession of a man who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl quoted directly from “Predators – killers without a conscience”).
The amount of time that Wilson and Howard spend on detailing the crimes committed, leaves very little space within each chapter for them to focus their attention on actually setting about the task of unpacking just what role, if any, each killers social and demographic circumstances actually played in the committing of their crimes.
To that end, out of the entire 246 page book, it is only in the final chapter, a whole 13 pages, that they at long last set about answering such questions.
Of that only 1 and a half pages are dedicated toward delving into considerations such as to “How monsters are made” and whether or not predators should be seen as being “ mad or bad?.
In their search for common denominators, Wilson and Howard found only three sustained similarities across the board and none of them were specifically related to socio-economic status or cultural norms.
These denominators were:
- The fact that all of the predators they reviewed had a long history of engaging in criminal behavior.
- The fact that the majority of the killers they reviewed were later found to be psychopaths who were focused on fulfilling their “urgent, intense and ongoing desire to physically hurt and violate non-consenting victims,” as opposed to being criminally insane.
This was a point that was made time and time again via the amount of forethought, planning and organization, which the predators engaged in prior to the abduction, rape and torture of each of their victims.
- Each predator was noted to have held no empathy, what so ever, for their victims. Often treating the act of killing as a necessary step in order to fulfill their desires and viewing the disposal of their bodies as inconvenience to them that had to be dealt with.
Yet the question of whether or not psychopaths are born rather than being created by socio economic circumstances or cultural norms, still remains an unanswered one.
Despite its gruesome content, there was one of the aspects of this book that I, as reader, found as equally disturbing as the descriptions of the acts of violence that were perpetrated against each victim, and that was the violation perpetrated by authors of this book against those who had already been victimized in the worst ways.
With the exception of one victim, whom they simply named “H”, they openly exposed the full names, ages, occupations and locations of not only each and every victim attacked, but also the full names and locations of their family members.
As a reader I can understand their bent for detail when discussing the crimes because each and every aspect of the level of depravity involved argues for the diagnosis of such perpetrator as highly organized psychopaths, but why include the full names of all of the victims?
Why could they not have nominated them, as they did with “H”, simply an initial?
Reading the names of the victims over and over again created within me such a deep sense of sorrow for the victims and wrongness for their families due to the fact that they will forever be marked in print and defined once again by the history of such horrific events.
It must be difficult enough to have a child of any age, taken from you, but to have that loss be so constantly written about, spoken about or relived in the media each every time an anniversary comes around or whenever someone decides to write a book about your family’s tragedy, must be absolutely horrendous.
It also made me ponder whether or not the family members knew all of the details of their loved ones treatment prior to death?
After all Wilson and Howard describe the events of crimes that occurred during the 50’s,60’, 70’s 80’s, all the way up until 2009.
How would any of these parents feel reading this?
How would the siblings feel reading this?
What if the siblings of the murdered had been deliberately spared the details of their brother of sister death, only to discover them in a book like this?
Fans of true crime are sure to enjoy this work, but for me, unfortunately, this book comes across as little more than being just that.
It is a book that presents the remnants of true crimes in a sensationalist manner poorly disguised as an academic work.