Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Quick comments, rather than a full review, but for those that aren't aware - this is a book about the notorious South Australian "Snowtown" killings.  There's only ever been a couple of other books that have taken me longer to read - KILLING FOR PLEASURE has been picked up, read a bit and put down since 2006.

Not because of the writing, or the analysis or even the nature of the crimes - this book covers one of those completely inexplicable, sad, pointless, horrible crimes that really did happen - as unlikely as that could possibly be.  It also attempts to look for some answers, albeit seemingly on the basis of the author's own research - there appears to be little by way of official explanations or consideration. Ultimately this was a very difficult book to read because this is real life and this is about the nature of a place and society that allowed twelve people (they know about) to disappear over seven years. 


Informed by material never seen before - an interview with Bunting's last lover Elizabeth Harvey, and with the Crown's key eye-witness James Vlassakis and with details of the torture and crimes not previously released - this is a tensely woven and microscopic examination of tawdry lives and tragic deaths.

Four men who tortured and killed for fun, for power. Four men who kept each other's dark secrets for years. By the time the police investigation concluded, the story had invited comparison with the nightmare of Rosemary and Fred West, the British House of Horrors. Details of what the killers did to their victims before and after their deaths were deemed so depraved that suppression orders were in place throughout the trial. But the killers were not insane. They made deliberate choices to kill and lived in a culture of complete anarchy, sadistic violence, deviance and chaos.

Journalist and author Debi Marshall explores the killers' psychopathic makeup in minute and harrowing detail. She charts the victims' exposure to generational paedophilia, incest, unemployment and hopelessness. Marshall covers the exhaustive trials and interviews the lawyers who ran them. Through interviews, she captures the voices of the victim's families and examines the police and forensic investigation and then wades into the social structure that spawned the people in this story.

Review KILLING FOR PLEASURE - Debi Marshall
Karen Chisholm
Monday, August 16, 2010

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