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My favourite book genre is true crime and in particular I have a morbid fascination with serial killers. I'm not sure why this is but my brother and sister also have a strong interest in this area. While on a recent family holiday my brother was reading 'Rose West the Making of a Monster' and as soon as I saw it I told him to hurry up and finish it so I could read it. I had previously watched documentaries about this notorious serial killer and had also read brief accounts of her crimes committed with husband Fred West. I knew she was indeed a monster but I had never read a detailed book about this gruesome case and what lead her down the path of murder.
- Rose and Fred West -
Rose and Fred West were a married couple who were arrested in 1994 for collectively murdering at least 12 women, including their own daughter. The majority of these victims were found buried beneath their house, 25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester. Fred hung himself before a trial could take place while Rose was convicted of ten murders. Nine of these (including the murder of their first child Heather) are believed to have been carried out together but it is believed Rose's first murder, of Fred's daughter from a previous marriage, was carried out by Rose alone while Fred was in prison for a minor crime. The other two victims are believed to have been killed by Fred alone. The majority of their victims were sexually assaulted and tortured in the most horrific of ways.
- The Making of a Monster -
This book is divided into four sections:
Secrets and Lies: The Early Years
House of Cards: The Early Teen Years
House of Bodies: The Later Teen Years
A Portrait of the Young Girl as a Grown-Up: A Misspent Youth
There are also several short chapters within these sections and events are mostly told in chronological order. This made the book easy to read and the 'story' easy to follow.
The book gives a detailed account of every aspect of Rose's life up until her convictions for murder. As the title suggests this gives a clear picture of how this monster was created. The author first sets the scene by delving into Rose's parents and grandparents upbringings. This might seem like unnecessary detail but it becomes clear that much of Rose's character was moulded by her abusive father and in turn his character was moulded by his cold, unloving father and over protective mother. The author clearly explains the dynamics of Rose's parent's marriage and subsequently the way they parented their seven children. It becomes clear that with such a dysfunctional upbringing involving violence, sexual abuse, incest and mental illness, Rose didn't really stand a chance at developing into a 'normal' adult. However, perhaps she would have followed a different path if at the age of 15 she hadn't met Fred West, 12 years her senior. Fred was from an equally dysfunctional background where violence, sexual abuse and incest were the norm and it is likely he had committed murder before he even met Rose. And thus the scene is set, a monster made and the book gives detailed accounts of what most likely happened at 25 Cromwell Street and how their victims met their unfortunate end.
- A Fascinating Read -
I found that this book made a fascinating read. Although I knew quite a lot about Rose West this book revealed many things I hadn't been aware of previously. I quickly read the 271 pages in two days as I could barely put the book down. I found the narrative simple and easy to read and while it was very detailed I felt the author only included relevant and interesting information. Rose had many siblings and many children so there are quite a few names and ages to remember but this was made easier by the inclusion of a few family trees and eight pages of glossy black and white photos in the centre of the book. I found very few spelling and grammatical errors or typos. I often get irritated with authors but I generally like Jane Carter Woodrow's style of writing. I like that there are quotes from people that knew Rose as this adds a certain authenticity to the book. It struck me that many of these people have written books about Rose, Fred and their hideous crimes. I'm sure many family members were left traumatised for life by being connected to such hated figures and in particular the West children suffered immensely at the hands of their parents so the least they deserve is some money for selling their stories. There are many references in the book to other serial killers, their childhood, relationships and crimes which may be lost on some people but most were about equally infamous killers so I think most people would follow this.
- A Gruesome and Scary Read -
The only negative I can think of is that the book is rather gruesome in parts, particularly accounts of sexual assaults and the murders themselves. This made my stomach turn on several occasions and made me want to sleep with the light on!
- Other details -
Published by Hodder in 2012
Available in paperback or eBook
- Price and Availability -
The RRP for this book is £6.99 and it is available from Waterstones and Amazon as well as most good book shops.
- Would I Recommend? -
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to anyone who has an interest in true crime and the Wests specifically. It is probably not for you if you scare easily or have a weak stomach! Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.