Posts Tagged ‘True Crime’


Published: 17 March 2016
Reviewed: 24 October 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by publisher in return for an honest review



The Hatton Garden Heist captured the public’s imagination more than another other crime since The Great Train Robbery. It was supposed to make a fortune for a team of old time professional criminals. Their last hurrah. A final lucrative job that would send the old codgers off on happy retirements to the badlands of Spain and beyond. It seemed to be the stuff of legends. Tens of millions of pounds worth of valuables grabbed from secretive safety deposit boxes in a vault beneath one of the most famous gold and jewellery districts in the world.

But where did it all go wrong for this band of old time villains? And why did the gang’s bid to pull off the world’s biggest burglary turn into a deadly game of cat and mouse featuring the police and London’s most dangerous crime lords?

Nobody is better placed to reveal the full story of the Hatton Garden Raid than Britain’s best-connected true crime writer Wensley Clarkson. Through his unique contacts inside the London underworld, he’s persuaded those who really know the truth to reveal the chilling details behind Britain’s biggest ever burglary.

My Thoughts & Review:

This is an informative look behind the scenes of a world that many readers may have little to no knowledge of, except from what they may have read or seen on screen – The London Underworld and organised crime.  This book gives a detailed insight into the workings of the criminal activity involved in the raid dubbed the Hatton Garden Heist, and Wensley Clarkson gives his unique perspective on the proceedings.

For the most part I felt that Clarkson wrote fairly about the individuals and their parts in the proceedings with openness and for the most part with impartiality.  Through his connections inside the London underworld Clarkson is able to methodically recount the details of the daring burglary but also to shine a light on the connection between this and the Brink’s-Mat Robbery which makes for fascinating reading.
Despite some of the material being similar if not the same as was reported in the media at the time of the burglary and subsequent court cases, Clarkson is able to provide his readers with background information about the gang members and give insights into their histories which makes for fascinating reading.

The pace of the book is good, it is quite a quick read and one that you can easily pick up and put down if you need to without losing track of what is going on.

The conundrum of Basil’s identity is a puzzle that will rattle around in my head for a while I feel.  I desperately want to put an identity to this ghost, tie it all up with a bow, but alas if even the members of the gang have no idea who he is, there is no chance I will ever know.

You can buy a copy of Sexy Beasts: The Inside Story of the Hatton Garden Heist here.

About the Author:

Wensley Clarkson is one of Britain’s most knowledgeable writers when it comes to the criminal underworld.  His books – published in more than thirty countries – have sold almost two  million copies.  He has also written movie screenplays and made numerous TV documentaries in the UK, US and Spain.

For more information on Wensley’s books go to his website http://wensleyclarkson.com or follow him on Twitter @wensleyclarkson

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Author: Martin Connolly

Published: 1 September 2016
Reviewed: 10 September 2016

5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Pen and Sword in return for an honest review



A female thief, with four husbands, a lover and, reportedly, over twelve children, is arrested and tried for the murder of her step-son in 1872, turning the small village of West Auckland in County Durham upside down. Other bodies are exhumed and when they are found to contain arsenic, she is suspected of their murder as well. The perpetrator, Mary Ann Cotton, was tried and found guilty and later hanged on 24 March 1873 in Durham Goal. It is claimed she murdered over twenty people and was the first female serial killer in England.
With location photographs and a blow by blow account of the trial, this book challenges the claim that Mary Ann Cotton was the ‘The West Auckland Borgia’, a title given to her at the time. It sets out her life, trial, death and the aftermath and also questions the legal system used to convict her by looking at contemporary evidence from the time and offering another explanation for the deaths. The book also covers the lives of those left behind, including the daughter born to Mary Ann Cotton in Durham Goal.

My Thoughts & Review:

Timed to coincide with the launch of ITV’s  latest drama “Dark Angel” this publication reports the life of Mary Ann Cotton, a convicted serial killer in England in the 1800s.
I’ve long held a fascination with Mary Ann Cotton, the psychology behind serial killers is an area of interest for many and indeed when you consider the number of convicted female serial killers it is genuinely intriguing.

Martin Connolly takes a methodical approach to recounting the history of this notorious figure, extensive research has been done and is presented openly and concisely through official documentation to ascertain a chronological timeline of the events.  The inclusion of maps and photos of the local area allow the reader to physically see how and where Mary Ann lived.  The census entries along with records of birth, marriage and deaths are also good additions of the research that is presented.
By also including reports from the local newspapers at the time of the events, Connolly presents the less factual side to the tale, however he remains staunchly impartial throughout, refusing to speculate and offering plausible explanations for events wherever possible.

An utterly fascinating read, well presented and one I will be purchasing the paperback copy of asap!

You can buy a copy of Mary Ann Cotton – Dark Angel here.

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