Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Return of the Unwanted

The world contains evil - that's a fact. I've seen it in its many forms, and when I've been able to, I've removed it or avoided it. And when it's possible, I believe evil should be laid to rest; it deserves nothing more. This is why I have an issue with writer, Wensley Clarkson.

Last summer Plymouth was held under the media spotlight while the horrific case of paedophile nursery-worker Vanessa George became national news. It was a dark time. For the families involved December was met with a sense of closure (or as close as one could get) as George was sentenced to a minimum of seven years. Then, less than two months later, Clarkson's book Vanessa: A Portrait of Evil was released.

In less than two months! Does the public really need that woman's face peering at them once again, this time from the shelves of high street bookstores and supermarkets? And at this point in time is it so important to humanise her?

For me, Clarkson could redeem himself by channeling the money he earns to a worthy cause such as the NSPCC; and since the book has already sold 8,000 copies on, I'm sure they'd appreciate the gesture.

You see, I'm wary about these 'true crime' books because there's two kinds of people I don't trust: people who place ads in local newspapers for items costing between 50p and £1; and people who buy 'true crime' books and put them on display in their homes. There's nothing more perverse or off-putting than trying to socialise with somebody while the face of Josef Fritzel is staring at you from the coffee table!

But people do. It's a genre that sells very well. If Satan wrote an autobiography detailing all his diabolical deeds it would be on more coffee tables than there are coffee beans in a Kenco warehouse.


  1. Some people write about true crime, some people write crime fiction and some people write about gypsies (

    Welcome to the world of writing...

    Meanwhile - I would take issue with the BBC raising the "parents angry at book" line.
    I mean, they never did a piece about "parents angry at BBC showing video of George at custody desk and then playing oodles of audio of her interview, without giving police chance to tell parents the Beeb were showing the programme that night," did they?
    Funny that.
    And then they didn't do a story on "BBC reporter upsets families with spurious suggestion that George would be out in 7 years, despite comments from senior investigating officers and senior probation officer, and that she'd get a new identity when she was out, again a suggestion derided by police and probation," either.
    I wonder why not?

    Fred West, Charlie Manson, Harold Shipman, Myra Hindley, Peter Sutcliff, ad infinitum. Horrific crime = book = people unconnected with the crime buying it.

    Welcome to the world/industry of Publishing!

  2. Hi Carl,

    Thanks for your comment. I fully take on board your point about the BBC's hypocrisy and hideous lack of tact.

    Regarding the true crime genre, a flatmate who was studying criminology had a complete true crime magazine series (I can't remember its title but it was advertised on TV at the time); each of the 30 20-30 page issues focused on a different infamous serial killer. I remember reading about 2 thirds of them in quick succession. I was simultaneously fascinated and repelled. And I'm interested in what drives the compulsion and fuels the curiosity to consume such morbid information.

    I'm also interested in the time-scale between a crime and its dramatisation on film or exploration in a book. This was a subject I've considered exploring on my other blog. Is there a period which is 'too soon'? Should certain crimes be protected from dramatisation?

    PS - If you don't mind my asking, how did you stumble across this blog? It's just that I wasn't aware anyone else was reading it!