First published back in April of 1986, British writer and journalist, Fred Harrison’s book ‘Brady and Hindley: Genesis of the Moors Murders’ pulled together a wealth of information as well as first-hand disclosures through interviews with Ian Brady and Myra Hindley from some twenty years following their incarceration.  The book was originally published prior to Brady and Hindley’s confession for the killing of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett – however an updated edition was later published in 1987 which included extra material regarding these murders.  This review is for the revised edition.

DLS Synopsis:
Born 2nd January 1938, Ian Stewart proved to be hard work for his mother to look after and so after just a few months Ian was passed over to a local couple named John and Mary Sloan.  Accepted into this new family, Ian took the Sloan’s surname but nevertheless had frequent visits from his real mother.  But it’s during these early years that an insuppressible urge for cruelty was gradually building within Ian’s psyche.

And so, as he grew up, his life gradually became increasingly drawn towards crime – seeing the young man incarcerated for house-breaking amongst other such crimes.  By now his mother had moved to Manchester and married a fruit-seller named Patrick Brady.  Taking Brady’s family name, Ian moved back in with his mother, but was soon arrested for theft.

And then in December of 1961, Brady started seeing a beautiful eighteen-year-old typist named Myra Hindley.  A young brunette who had become infatuated with Brady despite his criminal past.  The young couple began devoting all of their spare time together, with Brady’s interest in Nazism rubbing off onto Myra.

Slowly, day-by-day, Brady was infecting the mind of a young and impressionable Myra Hindley.  Her obsession with Brady led her to accept everything that Brady was telling her.  Hindley bleached her hair blonde to make her fit the idealistic Aryan stereotype, and became devoted to the seething corruption that had swallowed up Brady’s own life.

And then on the 12th July of 1963, after discussing the idea of committing the perfect murder, the couple drove around the local area, searching for a victim.  And, it was whilst the two of them were out searching that Brady spotted sixteen-year-old Pauline Reade.  Knowing the young teenager, Hindley persuaded Reade to come with her in their van to help search for a missing glove.  Reade accepted and Hindley drove them up to the Saddleworth Moors where Brady met with the two women.

And there, whilst Myra Hindley waited in the van on the road’s edge, Brady took the young sixteen-year-old out onto the vast moors.  Half-an-hour latter and Brady returned to the car alone.  Pauline Reade had been killed.

But Ian Brady and Myra Hindley’s lust for murder had not been sedated.  From the murder of Pauline Reade, the couple’s sexual compulsion for murder would take the lives of more innocent young children.  The moors murders had only just begun…

DLS review:
Working as a journalist for The Sunday People, Fred Harrison wrote a number of articles on Brady and Hindley, putting him in a position whereby he was able to come face-to-face with the murdering couple for numerous interviews.  Because of the level of first-hand insight afforded to Harrison, his ‘privileged’ position meant he was able to pull from a host of sources and information, enabling Harrison to produce one of the most insightful and informative books on the Moors Murders.

However, what is perhaps the most notable point surrounding the publication of Harrison’s book, is its actual impact on the case.  The book had its own part to play in the final confessions from Brady and Hindley.  And as such, its importance cannot be denied.

The book begins by detailing the lives and upbringing of both Brady and Hindley as well as that of Hindley’s brother-in-law – David Smith.  Indeed, Smith would eventually have a vital role to play in the capture of the murderous couple – as the man responsible for tipping-off the police.  As such, for the first part of the book, which covers the first fifty pages, Harrison provides in-depth details surrounding these three key individuals.

Within these early pages what’s particularly interesting to see is how Brady’s psychopathic tendencies and destructive behaviour had developed over the years.  From his early childhood Harrison details how Brady showed signs of cruelty to animals – something that Brady has continually denied.  However true or exaggerated these initial pages are, the information and time-line provided by Harrison are undeniably thorough and well-researched.  And even here, a picture of who these three individuals are is beginning to emerge.

Now with the lives of Brady, Hindley and Smith firmly established, the book begins the terrifying journey of how Brady and Hindley began their campaign of murder.  Pauline Reade’s murder is the first to be detailed, with a cold and callous tone adopted, providing a hauntingly ‘fact-heavy’ depiction of how and where the murder took place.

Supporting the details, Harrison includes actual excerpts from interviews with Brady from whilst he was incarcerated at Gartree Prison.  Here Brady shows his cowardice with lasting attempts at avoiding the questions put to him surrounding the matter.  Indeed, at this stage (i.e. prior to the first publication of the book), Brady shows no guilt at what he did.  Even after all the time that had passed since the crimes took place, he clearly will not accept direct responsibility for the murder if Pauline Reade or Keith Bennett.

Interestingly, what follows this is utter outrage from Hindley regarding Brady speaking with Harrison on the matter.  From her cell at Cookham Wood Prison in Kent, Hindley fights back regarding Harrison’s newspaper article on Brady entitled “My Secret Murders”.  If nothing else the back-and-forth anger between the two makes for some insightful reading – not only with putting the pieces of the crimes together but also regarding the remorseless character that Hindley undoubtedly was.

By now the book is almost exactly half-the-way-through.  And it’s here that the harrowing depth of the couple’s monstrous side is exposed.  Here, in part three of the book, Harrison details the ritualistic side to the murders – with the couple murdering innocent young victims as sacrifices to ‘The Face of Death’.

It must be said that at no point throughout the book does Harrison sensationalise what happened or delve into particularly graphic and unnecessary visceral detail about the crimes.  Yes, he includes an impressive amount of surrounding detail on how and when the crimes occurred, but he purposefully avoids allowing the book to become a blood-soaked serial killer crime story.  And perhaps if anything, the book is that little bit more chilling for it.

Harrison’s book clearly had its own part to play in the whole Genesis of the Moors Murders.  And with its unique perspective of the two killers, as they deny, deflect, and eventually confess to their crimes, Harrison has produced a book that reads whilst the story itself is continuing – even after the point of capture and incarceration.

The book works hard at painting a detailed and all-encompassing picture of who Brady and Hindley truly were.  Harrison does try to psychoanalyse the pair throughout the book.  However his inverted questions and ponderings do manage to prod the reader into coming to their own conclusions.  They help to make the book a more involving read.  And, although many questions are left unanswered, Harrison’s honest approach to the lack of a complete understanding only enhances the readability of the book more.

Following the initial publication of the book, Hindley finally admitted to her involvement in murdering Reade and Bennett.  As such, an additional eight-page ‘Postscript’ entitled ‘The Brainwashing of Myra Hindley’ was included in the revised edition of the book.

The book also contains sixteen pages of black and white photos/illustrations.

The book runs for a total of 197 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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