This post isn’t a book review, but I will share with you first what I wrote over on Goodreads when I finished Wicked Beyond Belief:
This book is from the perspective of the police force that was hunting the Yorkshire Ripper. In the time before computers, it documents the blunders that allowed Sutcliffe to keep on killing, and their desperation to end his reign as they realised he would just keep on killing. (In five years he was credited with murdering thirteen women and attacking a further seven, though it is suspected he is responsible for many more.) He was actually interviewed nine times without them realising he was their man. Officers’ health and marriages suffered as the force was totally overwhelmed by the biggest criminal manhunt in British history. For five years the north of England was terrorised by this man, when even female police officers were escorted to their cars after work as nowhere was considered safe. I can remember, as a child, the newspaper headlines every time the Ripper struck, and as a ten year old when the killer’s identity was finally revealed. This book reads like a thriller, and is the best crime book I’ve ever read. Appendixes include his confessional statement and interview transcripts.
Much to my wife’s chagrin, for some reason I like to keep her up to date with what’s happening in any book I’m reading. Even though I’m not talking about the grisly parts, I guess I may be a little taxing for her.
Yesterday morning, early yesterday morning, as she was getting ready for work, I knocked on the bathroom door, quietly as not to wake our student or the children. I’m thoughtful like that. She opened the door, half dressed, half awake, hair all tousled.
“Jen, they’ve started a covert operation.”
“They’ve started a covert operation. In a world before computers, they have secretly began recording the Reg plates of men who are entering certain areas looking for sex.”
“What are you going on about?”
“They totally underestimated the number of men who were actively looking to pay for the services of a prostitute. They were shocked.”
“You’re talking about that bloody Ripper again aren’t you?!”
“Have a guess how many?”
“In West Yorkshire alone-150,000 a month. In Manchester 4,000 a night!”
I let the numbers sink in. She let the door close quietly in my face.
I waited a few minutes. Let her floss. Knocked on the door again. She opened. Still wearing the look.
“Six times he’s been interviewed up to now. Six times! His records misplaced. A file lost for a year. Mistakes are being made.”
“I think I made a big one twelve years ago!”
She left for work. I assured her that I’d let her know how things went.
So, sat with my book in the local coffee shop, I felt sure she would need to be updated with developments. The (short) text conversation went like this:
“They’ve got him.”
“I’ll let you know how the interviews go.”
“Can hardly wait.”
“Wait until you hear what he was wearing when they caught him.”
“I’m not coming home.”
I know secretly that she can’t wait to see what book I choose next. But as tomorrow is Saturday I will let her have a lie in first. Maybe leave it until 8.
Speaking of Saturday, have a great weekend, guys. Give thanks for criminal databases.
See you on the flip side.