Killing for Company: The Story of a Man Addicted to Murder

Overview

In February 1983, the plumbing in a London apartment building backed up. When workmen found what appeared to be rotting flesh in the drains, the police were called in and an innocuous-looking local government worker named Dennis Nilsen was questioned. He immediately confessed to murder and calmly showed police plastic sacks full of dismembered remains that he had stored in a closet in his home. Dennis Nilsen turned out to be a serial killer of monstrous proportions. Over a period of four years he had murdered ...
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Overview

In February 1983, the plumbing in a London apartment building backed up. When workmen found what appeared to be rotting flesh in the drains, the police were called in and an innocuous-looking local government worker named Dennis Nilsen was questioned. He immediately confessed to murder and calmly showed police plastic sacks full of dismembered remains that he had stored in a closet in his home. Dennis Nilsen turned out to be a serial killer of monstrous proportions. Over a period of four years he had murdered fifteen young men, only two of whom had ever been reported missing. He had kept the corpses in his apartment, performing bizarre and macabre rituals with them until he dismembered and disposed of the bodies. In Dennis Nilsen, Brian Masters found a strangely articulate and intelligent man who viewed his crimes with an eerie detachment. Masters got close to Nilsen and was given the widest access to the killer's extraordinary diaries and prison journals. Nilsen reveals himself to be a man of Dostoevskian complications, one not afraid to confront what he finds in the darkest recesses of his own mind. In Killing for Company, Brian Masters has written the classic account of a murderer's life. He describes Nilsen's forlorn and loveless childhood and his descent into a horrific adult existence, all the while seeking clues as to what drives a man to murder. Masters's remarkable book offers an unprecedented look into the psyche of a serial killer, and is complemented by Nilsen's own words and drawings (his "sad sketches") and a postscript by Britain's preeminent psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony Storr.

Over a period of four years, Dennis Nilsen brutally murdered 15 men. He kept them as companions, talking to them and dressing them; then he buried them under his floor or dismembered them and flushed them down the plumbing. Clogged pipes led authorities to uncover Nilsen's gruesome madness--the largest case of mass murder in England's history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dennis Nilsen was arrested in February 1983 after the plumbing in his suburban London apartment was found to be clogged with body parts. ``Are we talking about one body or two,'' a detective asked. Nilsen, a 35-year-old civil servant, replied: ``Fifteen or sixteen, since 1978. I'll tell you everything.'' Besides confessing to the police, Nilsen wrote extensively to Masters from prison and offered him his journals. Using these sources and his considerable journalistic skill, the author ( Moliere ) fashions a stunning account of the largest mass murderer in British history. Nilsen is depicted as a lonely, articulate man who met men in pubs and cafes, invited them to his flat for drinks and killed them, fearing that they would leave the next day. Nilsen's trial was brief and expert testimony cast little light on the grisly events (Nilsen dismembered his victims, stuffying body parts under floorboards or boiling off flesh in a soup pot). Noting that the plea of insanity was not accepted either for Nilsen or for Jeffrey Dahmer, who was convicted of similar acts in the U.S. in 1992, Masters suggests that the current legal definitions of insanity need reworking. Photos not seen by PW. True Crime Book Club selection. (Nov.)
Barbara Jacobs
A successor of sorts to Capote's "In Cold Blood", this English psychological investigation was not published here for close to ten years or, chillingly, just two years after the Dahmer mass murders in Milwaukee. In a way, the account of Dennis Nilsen, now imprisoned for life for six murders and with most of the text related in "his own write," is gripping. Who can, after all, understand the impulses and motivations behind such slaughter? Masters comes close, by his friendliness with prisoner B62006 and his determination to uncover all the details. In a way, too, this smacks of tabloidism, the media's propensity to analyze and reanalyze sordid crimes. Well-written, well-documented, this book may nonetheless upset sensitive stomachs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679424253
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/26/1993
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. ed
  • Pages: 384

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