Having to make an unexpected visit to my brother who is heavily into true crime, I had a wealth of horrific true murders to choose from for my bedtime reading and I picked up this book having vividly remembered the TV reports back in 2002 where we all desperately hoped that Hollie Wells and Jessica Chapman would be found alive, sadly it wasn’t to be.
This true crime book is written by a journalist who was at the scene reporting for the Daily Mirror, I have to confess my expectations were fairly low. Although this isn’t the best example of this type of book, it is far from the worst and not quite as sensational as the title might suggest; full title is Beyond Evil: Inside the Mind of Ian Huntley, the Wickedest Man on Earth.
Nathan Yates expertly reconstructs the afternoon when the two ten-year-old girls set off for a walk well within their permitted boundaries in Soham, Cambridgeshire, and the horror only too easily imagined when both sets of parents realised they were missing. This book also reported how Huntley inserted himself into the search and became an unofficial spokesman for the locals while the hunt for the girls continued. He quickly volunteered the information that he’d seen the two as they passed his house. Hollie and Jessica knew Huntley’s girlfriend Maxine Carr and it seems likely that they asked after her. Only Ian Huntley actually knows what happened next and Nathan Yates is unable to add anything that wasn’t already in the public domain.
The book is cleverly constructed flipping between days to make the pertinent points which was especially useful to demonstrate that while Huntley thought he was covering up his crime, the police already had their suspicions although Nathan Yates, unsurprisingly, gives much of the credit to the media!
The part of this book that was more informative is the role that Maxine Carr played in the covering up of the crime, again she has steadfastly claimed she didn’t know what her boyfriend had done and so provided an alibi to save him from suspicion. Unfortunately for her once Ian Huntley was under suspicion, the fact that she was miles away in Grimsby at the time the girls went missing, was quickly proved. The author provides quite comprehensive background to Maxine’s earlier life which allowed me to come to my own conclusions about her motivation for providing him with an alibi.
This book which claims to know more about the perpetrator’s thoughts than is possible having had no access to him or even those close to him, reads like a fairly long newspaper report. As such it provides broad background to a shocking case but adds little in the way of real insight into the crime. What it does really well is to give the reader a real sense of those two girls whose lives were cut short in what appears to be a classic case of crossing the path of a man who acted on impulse in the most terrible way.