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The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching the Bullseye Killer Steve Wilkins

The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching the Bullseye Killer

Steve Wilkins

Published August 1st 2013
Kindle Edition
220 pages
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 About the Book 

Steve Wilkins true-crime book on the Pembrokeshire murders is another one of those that just caught my eye on a trip to the library. Id never heard of John Cooper, this massive cold-case investigation, or even Pembrokeshire, but it sounded like an interesting story of intensive police work and vile villainy in the modern world, and it was those in spades.John Cooper was/is an absolute scumbag of the highest degree. He worked as a career burglar with occasional forays into groundwork around the area (which he used to case homes for future reference). Around the time he was at his peak as a local burglar, two couples were murdered and a group of teenagers were terrorised (with one of them raped) in the area. Although police liked him for the crimes, there simply wasnt any evidence to convict him. He was eventually convicted of other burglaries, though, and toward the end of that sentence the more violent crimes were being re-examined. He again looked like the ideal suspect, and forensic crime-detection had advanced enough to look back at the evidence that was fortunately still stored from the crimes that had been committed roughly 20 years earlier.All of this is detailed in the book, in a sometimes too-meticulous fashion by the man who headed the investigation. He is not a writer, aside from writing police reports, so he is assisted in telling this tale by Wales-TV presenter Jonathan Hill. Hill is also not a writer, and too often it shows that the two of them havent tackled anything like this before. From Wilkins, we get agonising lists of evidence numbers and criminal activity with exacting recounts of forensic-examination results. These are interjected (presumably with the urging of Hill, to add some human warmth to this otherwise sterile police procedural) with odd, pointless dialogue exchanges and out-of-place anecdotes. All of this combined makes this a pretty clunky book, but the overall narrative is compelling enough to carry a reader through it all, if only to see how they finally nabbed Cooper and sent him to prison (never fear, this is not a spoiler: Wilkins inexplicably opens the whole affair with Cooper being sentenced, so we just have to be curious how he got there for us to keep reading).If Id been aware of all this going on at the time it was happening, no doubt the newspaper reports would have been enough to satisfy my interest as it went along. In retrospect, however, and completely unaware as I was, this book provides a satisfying (if poorly written) telling of one truly awful criminal and the massive (topping £1 million by its finish) investigation that finally took him completely out of society as he should always have been.[I have to add, the tag the Bullseye killer is one of the worst murderer-handles Ive ever seen and so a fairly inappropriate subtitle to this book, having as it does almost nothing to do with the killer but a tenuous link to his eventual identification.]