First published back in April of 1991, British true crime writer Brian Lane’s book ‘The Butchers’ compiled a broad section of murders that involved a strong degree of butchery in each of the crimes.

DLS Synopsis:
Introduction - 28 pages
Brian Lane starts off his introduction to the book by pondering what would make the perfect murder – referencing Richard Bingham (aka Lord Lucan), the unsolved Witchcraft Killing at Lower Quinton, Ted Bundy and of course the Zodiac.  From here Lane is able to follow on with how one might conceal a body in order to get away with murder.  The introduction is then subdivided into further sections detailing a variety of processes adopted by a number of the more infamous butchers, with very brief examples of each technique included.  These include: acid baths, burning, cannibalism, the meat vendors, dismemberment, fed to the pigs, quicklime and trunk murders.  The introduction ends with a very brief conclusion, referencing Hermann Webster Mudgett’s horrifying reign of terror as a final note on how one can get away with murder for so long if the circumstances are in your favour.

John George Haigh – A Women’s Intuition - 18 pages
Better known as the ‘Acid Bath Murderer’ Haigh’s career as a killer claimed the lives of up to nine individuals; dissolving their bodies in concentrated sulphuric acid and then profiting from their belongings.  Believing that because there is no body, he cannot be convicted of murder, Haigh duly confessed to the killings – to learn that his understanding of the law was critically flawed.  The chapter on Haigh begins with his confession to Inspector Albert Webb and goes on to provide a relatively brief overview of Haigh’s crimes, spanning from 1944 to 1949.  Included in the chapter is a transcript from the official Chelsea Police Station statement that was taken down following Haigh being cautioned (and subsequently arrested).  Details of the investigation and prosecution follow, with a final statement provided by Haigh in which he confesses to five further killings that ended in a bath of acid.  Crimes he was never convicted of.

Maitre Georges Sarret – The French Connection
- 3 pages
Born Giorgio Sarrejani, Sarret would later come together with the Bavarian-born Schmidt sisters, Katherine and Philomene and, whilst consumed by greed, they would go on to kill for the financial gain.  The bodies of their victims were laid in a bath and covered with twenty-five gallons of sulphuric acid.  The trio were later caught and successfully convicted of their crimes, with Sarret sentenced to death on the guillotine in 1934.

John White Webster – The Undoing Of Sky-Rocket Jack
- 6 pages
Boston born Webster was a professor of chemistry and geology, but is most famous for his conviction in murder for the infamous Parkman-Webster murder case in 1849.  Dr George Parkman was the poor victim, whose dismembered body was uncovered by the janitor Ephraim Littlefied.  Following Webster’s trial for the murder, the guilty verdict was reached under the forceful direction of the judge, resulting in Webster being hung for the crime.  Only later was it revealed that Webster’s involvement in the murder was non-existent and he was in fact innocent of any crime whatsoever.

Henri Desire Landru – The Red Man Of Gambais - 9 pages
Dubbed the real-life ‘Bluebeard’, Landru preyed on recently widowed women during the time of WWI, where he would leave advertisements in Lonely Hearts columns in order to ensnare his victims before seducing them.  He would then gain access to their limited assets and then murder them.  Their bodies were dismembered and burnt in his kitchen oven.  Between 1915 and 1919 Landru killed and dismembered a gruesome total of eleven women before his eventual capture, trial and execution (by guillotine).  Forty-six years later and ‘Landru’s true confession’ was finally published.  And later still, Landru’s fiancée at the time, Fernande Segret, eventually killed herself leaving behind a note that read “I still love him, but I am suffering too greatly.  I am going to kill myself.” – the supposed ‘fiancée that got away’ sadly making her Landru’s twelfth victim.

Patrick Mahon – Murder On The Crumbles
- 27 pages
On the desolate stretch of shingle beach which runs between Eastbourne and Pevensey Bay known as ‘The Crumbles’ the savagely-butchered remains of Emily Kaye and her unborn child were discovered, buried in the shingle.  The murder followed on just four years after the body of Irene Munro was discovered along the same stretch of shingle beach – her murderers standing trial at the time of the second gruesome discovery.  But it is in a passage in the trial’s transcript by Sir Bernard Spilsbury that the truly horrifying details of the murder and heinous dismemberment are revealed.  An excerpt that Lane reproduces word-for-word in his book.

Alfred Arthur Rouse – The Blazing Car Murder
- 8 pages
Wishing to fabricate his own death, thirty-six year old Rouse picked up a hitch-hiker, knocked him unconscious and then burnt him alive in the locked confines of his car.  Rouse later provided the police with an elaborate story about the hitch-hiker filling the car’s petrol tank whilst Rouse answered a call of nature.  A story he later came back on in his confession to the Daily Sketch – which is reproduced again here.  The unfortunate hitch-hiker was never identified, although Rouse was eventually hung for the murder of this unknown victim.

Kurt Erich Tetzner – The Secret Of The Green Opel
- 5 pages
With his eye on collecting the insurance pay-out following his faked death, Tetzner picked up a young hitchhiker along a road in Bavaia, strangling him with a rope until he passed out and then burning him alive in his green Opel.  The plan was that his wife would then collect the money from the insurance claims (through three separate insurers) and none would be the wiser.  Sadly for Tetzner, he underestimated the suspicious nature of insurance companies when they were asked to pay-out and his crimes were soon uncovered.

Ernest Elmes – A Man Well Placed
- 3 pages
Being a general handyman for a wire factory granted Ernest Elmes with access to the factory boiler – which turned out to be the perfect thing for his own private crematorium.  And then on a Saturday in September of 1953 Elmes bludgeoned his wife, Rose, to death with a hammer.  He then took to dismembering the corpse with a hacksaw and burned the remains in the factory boiler.  Having concocted a painfully weak story about his wife disappearing afterwards, Ernest Elmes later followed up the murder by taking his own life – succumbing to the fumes in his gas-filled kitchen.

Albert Fish – If Only Pain Were Not So Painful
– 5 pages
One of the most notorious and perverted serial killers of all time, the horrors Fish bestowed on his poor young victims remains one of the most horrifying and sickening cases to date.  Eventually caught some six years later following a letter of confession that Fish sent to Delia Budd (Grace’s mother), Fish was subsequently tried and convicted for the murder of ten-year-old Grace Budd.  However, it is only following his capture that the true horrors of the murder, cannibalism and claims of a horrendous legacy of similar crimes is revealed.  Fish was soon unveiled to be a man who was consumed by his perversions.  A man who pushed the limits of sexual satisfaction to strange and twisted depths.  And a man who was willing to try almost anything in his pursuit for sexual stimulation.  A man who was put to the electric chair on the 16th January 1936, even though the majority of the jury accepted that he was legally insane.

Ed Gein – Psycho! – 3 pages
There’s notorious, infamous, and then there’s Ed Gein.  A name that almost everyone has at least heard of.  A bogeyman whose crimes have inspired numerous horror films and the like.  A real-life ghoul.  A psycho.  However, as far as murder goes, Gein had only really killed twice.  His first victim being Mary Hogan and his second, that of fifty-eight-year-old Bernice Worden.  But it wasn’t until the local deputy sheriff came to Gein’s farm looking for Worden that Gein’s undeniable insanity was exposed.  There the deputy found the headless corpse of Worden hung up by her ankles in an outbuilding.  But it was the numerous trophies dug up from nearby graves, the signs of necrophilia and cannibalism, along with his ghoulish shrine to his dead mother that convinced the deputy, and indeed the rest of the world, that Gein was a very very troubled man to say the least.

Georg Karl Grossmann – The Hot-dog Seller – 2 pages
As a paedophile, murderer, necrophiliac and someone who also indulged in bestiality, Grossmann was without question a sexual deviant of the lowest calibre.  But it wasn’t until August of 1921 when, after hearing screaming coming from his small apartment, the police entered his home to find the dismembered corpses of at least three young women.  But it was how this degenerate had been disposing of his victims that sent shock waves through the local residents.  Grossman’s knack as a butcher had come in handy, and he’d duly turned his skills to producing hot-dogs which he undoubtedly sold to unknowing customers as well as no doubt sampling the meat himself.

Fritz Haarmann – The Ogre Of Hanover – 5 pages
After being released from prison in 1918, Haarmann began murdering young boys who came into Hanover’s old central railway station as refugees.  He’d offer them food and a warm bed at his home, then kill and dismember them; filleting their flesh to be sold as meat on the thriving black market.  And then in September of 1919, Haarmann met Hans Grans whereby the duo continued with the slaughter, until their reign of bloodthirsty terror came to an end with their arrest in June of 1924.  An arrest that would eventually lead to Haarmann’s beheading and life imprisonment for his accomplice, Grans (of which he served just twelve years).

Catherine Hayes – A Case Of ‘Petit Treason’ – 10 pages
Having married John Hayes at the age of sixteen, Catherine Hayes and her new husband soon took in two lodgers, Thomas Wood and Thomas Billings.  However, it wasn’t long before a relationship was struck up between Catherine and Billings, and a plot was formulated for the three of them to murder her husband.  A plot that became reality in March of 1726 when John Hayes got drunk and was subsequently murdered.  His body was then dismembered and the pieces thrown into a nearby pond as well as the Thames.  A method of disposal that still couldn’t save Hayes from capture and him eventually being burnt at the stake.

Pierre Voirbo – Blood-Guiltiness – 5 pages
After several customers at a restaurant became ill after eating there, an investigation into the water in the cellar’s well unearthed a fabric package that contained the decomposing leg of a Monsieur Desire Bodasse.  A man who had recently been seen quarrelling with Pierre Voirbo, who had himself been witnessed carrying around some foul smelling packages.  And it was after Voirbo’s arrest that the grisly details surrounding the crime and subsequent dismemberment came to light.  Revelations that would bring Voirbo to taking his own life with a bread knife in his cell before his trial could begin.

Belle Gunness – Man Slaughter – 8 pages
Norwegian born Belle Poulsdatter moved to Chicago in 1883 where she married fellow-countryman Max Sorensen.  From there the Sorensens moved to Austin whereupon Max Soresen died leaving Belle with $100 in insurance money.  Moving back to Chicago, Belle invested her money in a lodging-house which duly burnt to the ground.  Next was a bakery business which similarly burnt down, leaving a long line of insurance payouts.  A change of location was required in order to avoid further suspicion, and so Belle moved to La Porte where she met and married Peter Gunness.  Unfortunately, Peter’s life was soon to come to an end, when a hatchet accidentally landed on his head.  The usual insurance pay-out followed.  Placing an advertisement in a lonely hearts column brought several middle-aged men to Belle – men who would soon disappear.  In May of 1908, local labourer Roy Lamphere, who Belle employed around her farm, was arrested on the suspicion of murder following the discovery of charred remains following (you guessed it) another fire.  Lamphere was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 21 years in prison.  However, it wasn’t until many years later that the whole nasty truth of the crimes came to light.  Lamphere would later confess to merely helping Belle out with disposing of the numerous corpses – dismembering the victims and burying them in neat little parcels.  Crimes which Belle would be found guilty of in a sudden and swift turnaround in the whole heinous case.

Louis Voisin – Written Out Of Reputation – 7 pages
On the 2nd November 1917 a street-sweeper came upon an abandoned meat sack containing the torso and arms of a woman.  Along with the gruesome remains was a small piece of paper with ‘Blodie Belgium’ scrawled on it.  Eventually the police established who the victim was – a French national named Madame Emilienne Gerard.  When the police looked around the poor victim’s home, they found an IOU note from Voisin lying on the mantel shelf.  Due to the way Mme Gerard had been butchered, the police instantly became suspicious of Voisin – himself a butcher.  And so, during his questioning, Chief Inspector Wensley asked the Frenchman to write ‘Bloody Belgium’ out for him on a scrap of paper.  When Voisin complied, the exact same misspelling was evident.  Voisin was caught.  And soon enough a parcel containing the legs was found and shortly after this the bludgeoned head of Mme Gerard was discovered in a cellar.  Voisin’s response to his capture was merely “it’s unfortunate”.

James M’Kay – Murder In The Family
– 4 pages
After James M’Kay enlisted the help of John Russell in moving a large tin trunk from his mother’s home, the dismembered body parts of a woman, who would soon be revealed as M’Kay’s mother, began to turn up in a variety of locations.  M’Kay’s defence was originally one of insanity, which was then changed to not guilty.  However, the painfully weak defence saw a unanimous verdict of guilty and the strangely mad James M’Kay was hanged for his crime.

Dr Buck Ruxton – ‘What Motive, And Why?’ – 15 pages
On the morning of 29th September 1935 a number of human body parts were found at the bottom of a steep gully by two passers-by.  Professor John Glaister of the Forensic Medicine Department of Glasgow University began his analysis of the (mostly unidentifiable) body parts in a hope to identify who the victims were and their approximate date of death.  From these various pieces of human remains, Glaister managed to pull together an unbelievably enlightening picture of who the victims were; compiling a detailed list of characteristics that he managed to gauge from the various body pieces (the book includes an interesting comparison chart comparing Glaister’s findings with details of the actual victims).  However, it’s the newspaper that Ruxton used to wrap the body parts up with that was ultimately his undoing.  A ‘slip edition’ that was only issued to subscribers in a limited area – narrowed the search down for the police and eventually led them to Ruxton.  And together with the forensic evidence that had been gathered on the body parts, Ruxton was found guilty of his crimes and was left to face the hangman.

Brian Donald Hume – ‘I Got Away With Murder’ – 5 pages
In the early evening of 5th October 1949, two parcels were dropped from a light aircraft onto the Essex marshes at Tillingham.  One of which wildfowler Sidney Tiffen would stumble upon shortly afterwards – discovering the dismembered torso of Stanley Setty wrapped within.  After his arrest, Hume claimed that he had been forced into disposing of the corpse by three gangsters who he presumed had killed the unfortunate Setty.  A claim that saved him from receiving a guilty verdict on the charge of murder.  However, after serving eight of his twelve year sentence, Hume was released and subsequently sold his story of ‘How I Killed Setty...And Got Away With It’ for a very substantial sum.  And knowing that he couldn’t be charged for the same crime twice – Hume pocketed every penny of it.

Reginald Dudley and Robert Maynard – Another First For Forensics – 5 pages
On the 5th October 1974, a keen bird-watcher was startled by finding the upper part of a man’s torso lying on the edge of the river Thames.  Following this first gruesome discovery, a number of other body parts were found within a nine-mile stretch of the river.  Upon examination, it was surmised that the victim had suffered a severe trauma to the head prior to death.  Early on in the investigation the police came to believe that the victim was a small-time crook named Henry Moseley.  However, not much more happened until one year later when the body of Mosely’s friend Michael Cornwall was quite literally unearthed by a small boy searching for buried treasure.  Believing that the two murders must be connected, the police infiltrated the criminal underworld and zeroed down on two men who were known to have been at odds with Moseley and Cornwall prior to their untimely deaths.  Two men who would eventually be tried, convicted and sentenced for the murders.  Interestingly, after the publication of this book, both Dudley and Maynard were released from prison in 2002 after their appeal found them wrongly convicted and therefore not guilty.

Dennis Andrew Nilsen – Dismembering A Body – 6 pages
On the 3rd February 1983, Dyno-Rod were called out to unblock the drains for the flats at 23 Cranley Gardens.  What they discovered was responsible for blocking the drains was pieces of a strange flesh-like substance.  When the police were later brought in to investigate further – pieces of rotting meat and fragments of bone were fished out.  When Nilsen arrived back at his flat, the police instantly began questioning him, on a hunch faking that they knew he was responsible and demanding to know where the rest of the body was.  To their surprise his reply was “In two plastic bags in the wardrobe.  I’ll show you”.  When asked how many different victims they were looking at Nilsen replied “Fifteen or sixteen since 1978”.  And so one of the most infamous serial killers of all time was revealed.  Furthermore, the revelation of Nilsen’s post-murder activities would later see him dubbed both the ‘Kindly Killer’ as well as the much more befitting ‘British Jeffrey Dahmer’.

Nicholas Boyce – The Lucan Jinx – 3 pages
In January of 1985, Nicholas Boyce bludgeoned his wife to death after her constant taunting calling him a lazy good-for-nothing.  After murdering his wife, Boyce proceeded to dismember the body, cooking the flesh off the bones, along with carving it up with a kitchen knife and a saw.  He then proceeded to dump various parts of the body around London.  After going to such lengths to conceal his crime, just five days later whilst wracked with guilt, Boyce entered a police station and confessed to the whole crime.

Suchnam Singh Sandhu – The Scattered Seed – 8 pages
After thirty-nine-year-old Suchnam Sandhu’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Sarabjit Kaur, confesses her love for a married man living back in India, and that she wants to kill the man’s wife to free him from the marriage, Sandhu (quite understandably) forbids her of such a deplorable action.  However, after Sarabjit then takes an overdose of Phenobarbitone tablets, leaving a suicide note detailing that she is killing herself because of her father’s actions - Suchnam Sandhu flies into a fit of rage and bludgeons his daughter over the head with a hammer.  He then goes out to a hardware store, purchases a hacksaw and upon returning to his home in Barking, proceeds to saw off the head of his still very much alive daughter.  After dismembering the body, Sandhu bundled the parts into various suitcases and sent them off in different directions.

John Bowden et al – A Good Boy, Gentle And Kind – 4 pages
When police arrived at a council maisonette in Camberwell in response to a call from a neighbour they didn’t expect to see anything like the bloodbath that they found themselves confronted with.  Furthermore, asleep amongst the bloody carnage that was splashed around the room were three men and one woman.  Of the four who were duly arrested, it emerged that John Bowden was the one who battered their victim, forty-seven-year-old Donald Ryan, and then proceeded to cut him up with a saw, machete and electric carving-knife – all whilst he was still alive.  Convicted of the murder, Bowden received twenty five years.

Arthur And Nizamodeen Hosein – The Disappearance At Rooks Farm – 5 pages
When Muriel McKay (the wife of the ‘News Of The World’ deputy chairman Alick McKay) went missing, although the police were initially sceptical, they nevertheless decided to treat the matter as a possible case of kidnapping.  And it was whilst McKay waited to hear what had happened to his wife that he began to receive phonecalls from a man sporting a strong American accent demanding a million pounds for the safe return of Muriel.  What followed was an elaborate stream of correspondence and phoncalls, as well as a couple of bungled attempts at ransom drops, before the police finally caught up with the two brothers who had kidnapped Muriel McKay.  Although she was never handed back to Alick, nor was a body ever found, it is widely believed that their victim was killed, cut-up, and fed to the Hosein brothers’ pigs prior to their capture.

John Lawrence David – No Angel – 3 pages
In April of 1987, twenty-four-year-old Miriam Jones went missing from her home in Reading following a night out with her ex-lover.  A few days later the police began an inch-by-inch search of a nearby pig farm where a number of pieces of chewed bone were uncovered.  Remains that forensics confirmed were human and not pig.  An investigation that eventually led them to twenty-three-year old John David who had been Miriam Jones’ lover until she decided to return to her husband.  A move that ended with her being strangled, burnt, and then fed to the pigs.

Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen – The Worm That Turned? – 3 pages
After Crippen murders his spiteful and domineering wife, he and his young mistress, Ethel Le Neve, dispose of her body and then take to a steamship bound for America.  The two lovers didn’t get far before they we apprehended for the crime.  However, as romantic as it may sound, Crippen’s murder of his wife was much more cold, calculated and brutal than the story is so often portrayed to be.  And the cold-blooded lengths that Crippen went to in order to kill and discard his wife’s body shows something much worse than just a crime of passion.

Harry Dobkin – Right Time, Right Place – 5 pages
It was during the bombings of WWII in London that forty-nine-year-old Harry Dobkin, then working as a firewatcher, was present at a fire in the cellar beneath a ruined chapel.  However, it wasn’t until a year later that the charred remains of a skeleton were found amongst the rubble and pathologist Dr Keith Simpson was assigned the case.  And soon enough Simpson declared that the body was not that of a victim of a bombing, but a murder victim who had been killed, dismembered dosed with quick lime and buried.  Further analysis and investigation revealed the identity of the body – that of Mrs Rachel Dobkin – Harry Dobkin’s wife.

Dr Marcel Petiot – Alias Doctor Death – 5 pages
The residents of rue Lesueur, Paris, had had enough of the foul-smelling smoke rising up from Dr Petiot’s chimney.  And so, on 11th March 1944, the police were called in to investigate, and with the smoke beginning to cause a fire hazard, the fire services were then brought in.  However, upon entering the house, they discovered that the smoke was coming from a pile of dismembered corpses which were being used to fuel the boiler.  Upon questioning, Petiot claimed that the corpses were the remains of pro-Nazi collaborators who had been assassinated by the French Resistance and entrusted to him for disposal.  A story that was initially accepted by the police.  However, the man that would later be dubbed ‘Doctor Death’ was far from just disposing of the dead.  And it wasn’t long before the authorities found out the horrifying truth behind the man’s ghoulish activities.

The Shark-Arm Case – The Shark It Was That Died – 8 pages
On Anzac Day, 25th April 1935, the sensation-seeking sightseers in Sydney didn’t know what to think when a large tattooed human arm spewed out of the mouth of a giant tiger shark that had recently been caught and was currently on show to the public.  The question was – how could it have stomached a perfectly preserved human arm for the eight days since its capture?  And equally as worrying – what had happened to the rest of the body?  The fingerprints revealed the arm to belong to a James Smith – known to the police as a forger and petty thief.  And after following up on Smith’s disappearance, it became clear that a large tin trunk was missing from the property.  A tin trunk that very possibly held the rest of the victim’s body somewhere off the coast of Sydney.  As for the arm…it probably couldn’t quite fit inside the trunk along with the rest of the body, so was more than likely just strapped to the side.

James Camb – Murder In Cabin 126 – 6 pages
At around three in the morning, the ship’s night watchman was summoned to cabin 126 where actress Eileen ‘Gay’ Gibson was sleeping.  Upon opening the cabin door, the watchman found it slammed back in his face, just before he glimpsed the promenade-deck steward James Camb inside.  After the watchman reported the incident, it was decided that nothing further should be done.  After all, it was deemed that they’re all adults.  However, after Gay Gibson failed to turn up for breakfast the next morning the realisation that something far more sinister may well have occurred began to cross the crews mind.  However, after searching the entirety of the ship, the actress couldn’t be located and it was quickly assumed that Camb had thrown Gay Gibson’s body overboard.  An elaborate story from Camb duly followed.  One that, although not all that far-fetched, could not hold up against the forensic evidence that was left within Cabin 216.

Peter Hogg – The Ladies Of The Lake – 5 pages
When Nigel Prith went scuba-diving in Cumbrian Lake’s Wast Water he was somewhat baffled by the sight of a rolled-up carpet sitting on a ledge deep in the depths of the lake.  However it wasn’t until a couple of months later when the police began searching the lake for twenty-one-year-old Veronique Marre that the significance of the carpet dawned on Prith.  Following Prith’s directions, the police zeroed in on the underwater parcel, dragging it out of the water and revealing the rotting corpse of a plump middle-aged woman – definitely not Ms Marre.  The following investigation led to identifying the corpse as that of Margaret Hogg, and from there the subsequent arrest and prosecution of her husband – Peter Hogg.  However, poor Veronique Marre was never found.

Bela Kiss – A Case Of Stolen Identity – 3 pages
In the remote village of Czinkota, local tinsmith and amateur fortune-teller, Bela Kiss, found himself being drafted into the army.  And it was whilst the strange man was away that two police constables arrived at his property under the rumour that a line of petrol casks had been spied in his attic by his withered old cleaner.  However, when the constables eventually gained access to the attic, and located the seven casks, they were startled to find that they did not contain petrol like they hoped – but the naked corpses of seven women.  The war forgotten for the time being in the face of a serial killer in their own village, the police duly contacted the military to apprehend Kiss immediately.  But by now Kiss was long gone.

Hera Bessarabo – ‘The Truth, The Truth...’ – 6 pages
When Hera Myrtel married Paul Jacques, the couple remained married for some twenty years during which time Madame Jacques had reportedly attempted to poison her husband.  However, Monsieur Jacques’ life finally came to an abrupt end when he was killed by a single shot to the head – a shot that the coroner’s court ruled was from his own hand.  Following his death Mme Jacques returned to Mexico where she found herself witnessing the murder of her head ranch hand to ‘settle the account’.  However tongues had been wagging with Mme Jacques’ involvement with the Romanian wood merchant, Charles Weissman (aka Bessarabo), who she duly married shortly afterwards.  But Hera Bessarabo still had a murderous temper in her, and it’s a temper that her new husband would soon come face-to-face with.

The Brighton Trunk Murders – Two Classic Classics – 13 pages
No.1 - On the 6th June 1934 a trunk was deposited in the left-luggage office of Brighton Station on Derby Day.  Nearly a fortnight later, the baggage still had not been retrieved and it had begun to give off a decidedly nauseating smell.  After the police removed the baggage, upon opening them up they found the body of a woman stuffed inside the trunk, whilst the arms and legs were wrapped up in a package that was secured to the outside of the trunk.  Pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury was duly put on the case...but there’s only so much that can be garnered from the corpse of a supposedly perfect murder.

No. 2 – On the 15th July 1934 another trunk was pulled out of a house in Brighton; this one containing yet another dismembered body.  Unfortunately the property that the trunk had been found within was split into a number of single apartments with several occupants – making it hard to identify the possible culprit.  The police’s attention soon moved towards twenty-six-year-old Tony Mancini who already had somewhat of a shady past.  But finding the true culprit to the notorious Trunk Murders would eventually bring up just too many dead ends.

The book concludes with an Appendix on ‘Forensic Pathology’ which includes a 4 page definition of pathology, 9 pages on the question of identity, and finally 8 pages providing a timeline on the crimes detailed in the book and the respective development in pathology that helped solve the crimes.

DLS Review:
Brian Lane’s overview of murders involving some degree of butchery provides an interesting view of the extraordinary lengths criminals will go to in order to try to hide their crime.  Furthermore, when seen as a whole, the book shows the key importance that pathologists play in working out who the victim is, the cause of death, and ultimately catching the criminals.

Through the length of the book the reader is able to see the numerous developments that have taken place with the advancement in pathology, leading us up to the time of the book’s publication (1991).  Obviously since this date a great amount of advancements in this particular field of science have taken place, but seeing the timeline up to this point alone is certainly interesting enough.

Admittedly, having such a large collection of examples of murder and butchery within the book leads to the problem of how limited each chapter must be.  And to be fair, Lane does a sterling job of cramming in as many of the facts as he possibly can, whilst still marinating a readable narrative that isn’t too bombarded with details.

Read from cover to cover (like I did) is perhaps not the best way of reading the book.  Instead, with each standalone chapter so clearly defined, it is certainly just as easy to plunge into the book for a chapter or two whenever the mood takes.  This should prevent the reader from becoming tired and desensitised by the similarities between many of the true-to-life stories.

Lane clearly has a great deal of knowledge on the subject and shows an abundance of respect for the pathologists who work so tirelessly in searching out clues to the victim’s identity and pulling together the scraps of evidence to uncover the identity of the murderer.  Following his overview of each murder (which is often told from the point of finding the victim’s body and then working backwards), in each case Lane goes on to provide a brief Postscript where he reflects back on the practices that were adopted by the police and scientists alike.  These passages are more often than not some of the most interesting sections, written in a down-to-earth fashion that often brings up questions of morality, justice and uncertainty.

However, the lack of much depth within each chapter is ultimately the biggest downfall of the book.  Like with most (if not all) true crime collections like this one, brief overviews never really work all that well when dealing with the often complex and intrinsically analysed subject of murder – particularly when it is done in such a heinous manner as many of the crimes detailed in this book.

Take for example the five pages spent on detailing the crimes of Albert Fish (of which this also includes Lane’s Postscript).  Or indeed the just three pages given to detailing the actions of Ed Gein.  Is this by any stretch of the imagination enough to inform the reader on the crimes and their perpetrators?  My belief is no.  Such briefness is often detrimental in summing up what took place.  It often misses key facts, figures and events that could otherwise sway the readers opinions on the crimes.

However, as a very rough guide to highlight murderers and their crimes in an easy to digest fashion – it must be said that Lane’s book does the job incredibly well.

The book runs for a total of 323 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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