Book Review – “Catching A Serial Killer”

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TTCE was well aware of the existence of a book in the works written by former Wiltshire Police Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher following his work bringing to justice what must be one of the most evil, and more than likely, prolific serial killers that Britain has ever known, Christopher Halliwell. As the case is quite high profile and well-known (and sadly it should be added, arguably not for the correct reasons it should be), it was a book that was always on the list to read and review for TTCE, as it is a case that would pique the interest of any true crime reader. TTCE was well familiar with the case and the subsequent events of it, so was all too eager to read the book. Released last week, and read immediately upon its release, the review is as follows.

“Catching A Serial Killer” details the disappearance of and subsequent police investigation into the whereabouts of a missing 22 year old girl, Sian O’Callaghan, which made headline news within the UK in March 2011. Through determined efforts and a tireless, professional and dedicated enquiry, Sian’s killer, taxi driver Christopher Halliwell, was brought to justice. Halliwell is now serving a whole-life tariff for the murders of both Sian, and a second victim, Becky Godden-Edwards, whose murder Halliwell was convicted for in 2016.

There is much available online to read about Christopher Halliwell, the murder of Sian, and the discovery of Becky’s body. Yet equally, there is much available also to read about Steve Fulcher. It does not serve this review any to recount any of these details here, the book and the author does that well enough and covering the plot points here would ruin it for the reader.

TTCE found “Catching A Serial Killer” to be very chronologically written, very honest and personal, and to cover the enquiry start to finish. It was set at the pace of the enquiry, so the reader can place themselves there by the side of investigating officers – it helps appreciate the timeframe and the complexity of a fast paced missing person/suspected murder enquiry. Police jargon and acronyms are explained, and the author delves deep enough into the personal effects such an enquiry has upon those investigating that it really brings home what lies on the shoulders of investigating officers. Not many similar books off the top of the head have done this as well. It’s a fast read, and written so the reader feels the highs and lows of the investigation with Det Supt Fulcher and his team.

So, with successfully taking a multiple murderer off the streets, one would expect Steve Fulcher to be commended? Absolutely not – he was forced out of an unblemished police career by an IPCC as a result of his actions during the case. The most high-profile case of a career – and unfortunately, also the most costly. The events leading to this are all explained in a chronological order, and a very honest one for that matter – Steve is honest throughout, and explains thoroughly his actions and the reasons for doing so. Perhaps “enjoyed” is the wrong word to use for the reader to feel after reading a book such as this – after all, should any true crime text concerning the murder of young girls be enjoyed? – but TTCE thought it an overall fascinating and engaging book.

The two negative points TTCE found with “Catching A Serial Killer” are as follows: there is a complete lack of photographs contained within the book, which is always of interest to any reader in the opinion of TTCE and indeed, has often helped sales and interest. Not necessarily crime scene photos – it is understandable that due to sensitivity and of course evidential value that these are not included. But pictures of places mentioned, vehicles etc would be of interest for example. It is also a book that would have benefited from an appendix at the back bullet pointing the timeline of events, for the reader to refer to as an overview. However, these are personal observations and it has to be said do not or should not diminish what is, as already stated, an excellent book.

As mentioned earlier, there is much to be read about Christopher Halliwell online, the majority of which is the possibility that he is responsible for many other murders as yet undiscovered. TTCE is in no doubt convinced that Halliwell is responsible for many more murders – but he maintains a “no comment” stance. There are fellow true crime enthusiasts that have compiled a list of possible Halliwell victims – some of these quite high-profile cases and names that would be familiar to a reader (a number of which are mentioned in the book), and it is hopefully refreshing to Steve Fulcher to read reviews like this and reinforce that there are people who support his actions and see past any decisions made by the IPCC, and who continue to work tirelessly even if on an amateur level. This book does not cover Halliwell’s life in any great detail, that is perhaps for a future book to do once the full extent of Halliwell’s offending is known – if of course, it ever is. Researching Halliwell’s life may take time, but there is markedly much more for us to learn about the life and exploits of Christopher Halliwell, so much so that, it could potentially fill volumes. TTCE sincerely hopes that this is the first book to do so.

TTCE was going to begin this review by saying that, in a non patronising, non condescending way, he pitied Steve Fulcher for his treatment at the hands of the IPCC. Reading the book changed that. Now, there is nothing short of admiration for him. Read the book and make up your own minds.

 

The True Crime Enthusiast

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