The 1970s saw some of the worst mass killings and murders in recent history. Fanatical cult leader Jim Jones was responsible for the deaths of hundreds, while serial killers Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy each had dozens of victims. The chilling crimes of murderers including the Yorkshire Ripper - Peter Sutcliffe - and the Hillside Strangler stunned the world when the details were made public.
About Michael Cowton:
Michael Cowton honed his journalistic skills on national newspapers as a feature
writer, columnist and chief sub-editor, working variously for the Daily Express,
The Observer and Mail On Sunday. He spent five years as a court reporter, and
has worked for the East Midlands Ambulance Service as both an Emergency Care
Assistant and Emergency Medical Despatcher, dealing with a range of traumatic
incidents, including murders and hangings. He is also a former Special Constable
with Lincolnshire Police. As a published biographer, his writing credits include
works on the Michelin-starred celebrity chef John Burton-Race, and the bands
Level 42 and Pet Shop Boys. Murders That Shocked The World – 1970s, is the
first in a trilogy, with the 1980s and 1990s due to be published in 2021. A former
magazine editor and visiting lecturer in media studies, Michael Cowton is
currently employed as a production editor for a major publishing house. Married
with two children, he lives in Lincolnshire.
Last year I took a departure from my mainly crime fiction and sometimes historical fiction genres into the world of True Crime, and amongst others read and reviewed the work of criminologist Christopher Berry Dee, criminal profiler Professor David Canter and Forensic Pathologist Professor Angela Gallop. I concluded that by removing the entertainment factor from my reading by making the switch from fiction to non-fiction, I was faced with the harsh reality of violation, physical pain and terror that the victims suffer, the gore that innocent bystanders are exposed to when they discover the remains and the lifetime of anguish the victim's families and loved ones are left to endure. Equally disturbing is gaining insight into the mind of a serial killer, and what leads them to carry out unspeakable acts on fellow human beings. Reassuringly, we live in an age where detection has been significantly enhanced by science.
I was delighted when I stumbled on this book Murders That Shocked the World -70's by Michael Cowton. Yes we share the same unusual surname, but I don't think we're related and we do not know nor have we met. I bought the print version, just for the simple reason that I thought it would be pretty cool to add my namesake to my true crime bookshelf. Having no idea what to expect I was delighted to find that Michael Cowton happens to be a font of knowledge on this very specialist subject, which I can only imagine has came about from a long and distinguished career in journalism.
There are twelve chapters, each dedicated to either a serial killer or killers, or an unsolved murder. Set in the USA, UK, South America, New Zealand and Australia, Cowton gave me the reader a great sense of place with his descriptions of the environment, and time reminding me how different things were during the seventies. Was the book worth it? I'll say. I've already pointed out I'm no stranger to True Crime books, but I'm no expert either and I learned stuff that I didn't know. For that reason this is a book I would highly recommend for aficionados of this subject matter.