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Wednesday 10 August 2016

‘Masking Evil’ by Carol Anne Davis

Published by Summersdale Publishers,
15 July 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-84953-883-1

This selection of true-crime studies outlines the cases of thirty-seven criminals who committed violent crimes – in most cases murder – and, at first, were shielded from suspicion by their social position and respectable jobs, which often allowed them to offend again. The chapters consist of a study of the perpetrators' childhoods, their lives and the circumstances that moulded their personalities. Many of these personalities were terrifyingly warped and ego-centric.

The perpetrators ranged through several killers with positions in law enforcement and education, there were also health workers, lawyers, a vet and an airline pilot, and a large number of people with positions in religious organisations. Indeed one of the most disturbing aspects of the book as a whole was the number of violent offenders who had religion – often in an extreme form – as part of their upbringing. The chapters often conclude with comments from psychologists and psychiatrists, analysing the nature of the crime and perpetrators, and these are fascinating.

Although the front cover includes the caption 'When good men and women turn criminal,' I did not feel that the majority of the perpetrators were 'good,' they merely had the position and reputation to camouflage their true natures. Because they were respectable people who could hide behind a mask of authority, religion and good deeds, those around them could not believe them capable of serious evil. Added to which, official agencies (such as the Social Services in the case of abusive foster mother Eunice Spry) are very wary of challenging the outwardly respectable and unwilling to offend people whom they regard as 'like themselves.'

Carol Anne Davis is an outstanding authority on true crime, and Masking Evil is a fascinating, although chilling, study of criminals who shelter (and are sheltered by those around them) behind a mask of respectability. A book that is well worth reading for those who are interested in true crime and the psychology behind violent actions, not to mention a good source of plots for crime writers. An authoritative and very interesting book.
Reviewer:  by Carol Westron

Carol Anne Davis was born in 1961 in Dundee 1961. Went to Dundee University and gained a Master of the Arts degree in English and Social Administration. The latter included criminology which complimented her obsession with true crime. After graduation, Carol started working with battered and emotionally-abused women. This was a year-long post and at the end of it did a postgraduate diploma in Adult & Community Education at Edinburgh University. Carol is the author if fifteen books.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.

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