In CULT KILLERS , Frank Moorhouse brings together a diverse group of killers all with connections to Satanism in its various forms. He tells their stories, from their childhoods to their eventual fate
Beginning with a short history of the characters responsible for the rise of 20th century interest in Satanism and the Occult , Moorhouse then visits the usual suspects: Charles Manson, David (Son of Sam) Berkowitz, The Chicago Rippers, and Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker). These had me rolling my eyes and thinking that there was nothing in the book that couldn’t be found on the internet and that the author was simply rehashing what had gone before and trying to link them, often tenuously, with Satanism. Something the tabloid newspapers already do very well.
The second half of the book, however, was much more interesting. This deals with more recent murders where the killers were nearly all troubled teenagers. Yes, we all know about Manson, but how about Vard Vikernes (Count Grishnackh), a young Norwegian man who was deeply involved in the Black Metal music scene? And have you ever heard of Hendrik Mobus? Another Black Metal enthusiast. There is also the vampire-obsessed Nico Claux convicted of murdering a gay man in Paris and suspected of murdering even more. Claux served his time and has now forged a career for himself painting serial killers. He even has his own website http://www.nicolasclaux.com/ Charming! .
The last few chapters in the book are more tragic than frightening. They deal with teenagers who seemed to have little chance in life but whose fate took them down the path to killing. The final biography features a troubled young Scottish man, Luke Mitchell, whom the author feels was a victim of media and community hysteria. He isn’t completely convinced of the young man’s guilt.
In the final chapter Moorhouse offers his thoughts on what has happened in society to create these teenage murderers. He blames a number of things: the politics of greed, globalisation and the subsequent closure of high-employment industries. This puts more pressure on already struggling families. Then there is the erosion of wages and conditions forcing parents to work longer and longer hours . Add to that the gradual cutting in funding of education etc which has cut-off one way of escaping their situation. He admits that isn’t the whole picture, but feels it goes some way to explaining the phenomenon of teenage killers.
After a slow start I found CULT KILLERS a fascinating look at the dysfunctional world of many teenagers in today’s society. It does offer explanations for some of the killings and perhaps some solutions, but whether there is the political will to change things is another question entirely.