West End Girls by Barbara Tate

Barbara Tate’s memoir West End Girls is a totally absorbing and revelatory memoir about the author’s two-year stint working as a maid for the Queen of Soho – aka 1940s prostitute Mae. It’s a remarkable glimpse at a lost Soho – grubby, still a residential neighbourhood with small businesses, seedy and with an air of criminality. Barbara is a wide-eyed […]

The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury

A painstakingly researched and totally absorbing account of a once sensational, now forgotten, murder from 1935. Alma Rattenbury and her young lover, George Stoner, 18, faced the hangman in an Old Bailey trial following the murder of her husband, distinguished architect Francis Rattenbury. The case shocked, horrified, electrified the nation and went on to inspire plays and TV dramas. Francis […]

Top 10 true-crime books

Great research, vivid writing, historical context – the best true crime can give compelling insight into the kind of personalities that commit notorious crimes. In no particular order, here are 10 true-crime books that I particularly admire… Oswald’s Tale by Norman Mailer 1995 Forget the grassy knoll, mafia hitmen, Castro malcontents, CIA plotters – it was Lee Harvey Oswald what […]

Hatton Garden ITV

ITV’s Hatton Garden drama has been engrossing. The language is ripe and the cast – including Timothy Spall and Kenneth Cranham – is excellent. The Diamond Wheezers who burgled the underground safe-deposit company in London’s jewellery district in 2015 is a fascinating true-crime story. While pulling off this shocking theft, the veteran lags are also gasping, collapsing, falling asleep and […]

An Inconvenient Death

Just finished Miles Goslett’s account of the Dr David Kelly affair and it is a disconcerting read. Dr Kelly was the British scientist and weapons expert who was caught up in the controversy over whether Iraq really had missiles that could threaten Britain with mass destruction in 45 minutes. This claim was used to help justify the West’s attack on […]

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

I started watching the Netflix true-crime series, but decided to switch to John Grisham’s book to better absorb these events. The author says in the series that you could not write this story as fiction because no one would believe it. It’s a really shocking tale of a vicious miscarriage of justice. It involves a rotten police investigation, lamentable courtroom […]

The Onion Field by Joseph Wambaugh

Joseph Wambaugh, former LA cop, has had an interesting writing career, spanning fiction and non-fiction. I’ve read several of his books and just finished this true-crime title from 1973. It recounts events from 1963 when two LAPD officers stopped a pair of small-time but dangerous characters. Greg Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith pulled a gun and took the policemen, Ian […]