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Death of a Murderer

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    HIS WRITING IS ELECTRIC, CONCISE, AND TRUE

    Seldom does one read a novel as memorable as this. The prose is pristine, beautiful in its spareness, and the protagonist is incredibly affecting. Billy is, if you will, everyman. An ordinary fellow who through a device employed by the author looks back upon his life, his hopes, regrets, fears and, of course, loves. Billy Tyler is a policeman, an ordinary one without aspirations for promotion. He's married to Sue, a woman he seems to understand less now than he did when they wed ten years ago. '....here they were, bound together by little more than arguments and tears, by vicious words, by things they didn't even mean.' Their only child, Emma, has Down's Syndrome. One evening a phone call comes - Billy has been assigned to guard the body of one of the most notorious murderers in England until the body is cremated. Her name is Myra Hindley and she has committed the most ghastly killings, even children were tortured before death. Billy is sent to the morgue to make sure nothing happens to the body, that no thrill seekers want a souvenir, a lock of hair, a remnant of clothing. It's not a pleasant assignment - the graveyard shift and he'll be alone. Sue begged him not to go, to call in sick because he shouldn't be around such evil. He replied that it was his job and so he went to the mortuary, taking his paper work with him, intending to catch up. Instead he remembered. It is through these reminiscences that we learn about Billy's youth, his courtship of Sue, and the difficulties in raising and keeping safe a child with Down's. He emerges as thoroughly likable, one with whom we can empathize, and one for whom we come to care. The aspirations of his younger years have vanished. As he comments, 'Life could surge away from you at great speed, leaving you bobbing dumbly in its wake.' The appearances of Myra are not spectral or frightening to him. It is almost as if her were viewing her with detachment. Yet, as he listens to her he realizes that everyone has been harmed by her heinous acts. 'We were all damaged by what happened, he thought. We were all changed.' Has that not happened to some of us? To say that Rupert Thomson is a major talent is an understatement. His writing is electric, concise, and true. This is an amazing story brilliantly written. - Gail Cooke

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

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    a reviewer

    After decades in prison as the worst female serial killer in England¿s history, the murderess has died but not to satisfaction of the families of her victims many believe justice failed as this deadly femme fatale, ¿Britain's most hated woman¿, died from natural causes. Police officer Billy Tyler volunteers to watch over the corpse because he assumes this is an easy assignment although he is told by his superiors to remain vigilant as many would like to mutilate the body. Twelve hours baby sitting a dead female in a hospital morgue before she is cremated seems a perfect way to earn easy money to the lazy Billy even after his spouse Sue begged him to not take this assignment. As the clock slowly ticked away during the long night, Billy begins to self reflect on his life. He has marital troubles and thinks of Emma, a Down syndrome child. Soon Billy and the ghost of this dead killer debate evil as she insists it is part of humanity¿s internal makeup with civilization trying to control it. She admits most of her victims probably did not deserve death but she lured and killed them nyway. As the clock moves on, Billy believes he lost the argument as this easy over night jaunt proves disturbing as he reflects on keeping loved ones safe from predators when we are the monsters. --- Apparently based on a real murderess, DEATH OF A MURDERER is a haunting character study that will have the audience reflect on the same questions that begin to disturb Billy. How does one keep loved ones safe from random act killing fields caused by psychopaths? Just who is the monster and how did they become so malevolent that drive by shootings of innocent people including babies is a competitive game. Rupert Thompson provides one of the most insightful thrillers of the last few years with this cerebral look at society breeding the monsters that lie amongst us as we just as easily could have been them. --- Harriet Klausner

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