Monday, August 3, 2009

Fred and Rose by Howard Sounes

This was the bland semi-detached home of Fred and Rose West, and the guardian of their incredible secret: the remains of nine young women - many of them dismembered, decapitated and showing evidence of sexual torture - were buried under its cellar, bathroom floor and garden. The remains of Fred's eight-year-old stepdaughter were under the extention of a nearby house; his first wife and nanny were buried in windswept fields some miles away. There are undoubtedly many other victims whose fates may never be known. Yet Fred and Rose West, who committed at least nine of these murders together, continued to preserve the facade of normal married life. Friends and neighbours considered them a loving if somewhat eccentric couple, and their crimes went undetected for over twenty years.FRED & ROSE documents the lives and crimes of the most notorious murderers in Britain's recent criminal history, and offers completely new insights into these strange and tragic events.

Just in case this true crime story is not as widely known as I might think,this couple Fred and Rose sexually tortured and murdered many girls and then buried the bodies in the basement of the homes they lived in.Among the victims were their own children.

I still get the shivers when I just look at this book.Luckily it is only on my desk now so I can do this post but otherwise it is in a cupboard well hidden away.This book was one of the first true crime books I ever read so I have no idea if the shivers are due to having read it then before I was a seasoned true crime reader or if it was because it really was a horrific story.To be honest I think I must err on the side of the horrific story.The details included in this book are truly terrible.I could not get my mind around the fact that customers/clients were entering the house at all times of the day,a house that at any one time included at least 3 children.Customers who were coming to visit Rose who was prostituting herself for extra money or kicks,this fact is not really made clear in the book.

The details of the abuse of the young girls in the house was also very disturbing.The methods used,the activities entered into by this sick couple and the decision to include the children as well made me want to puke.I would recommend this book only to readers who are absolutely sure that they could handle all the gory details.

This book also highlighted for me (same as Secrets In The Cellar by John Glatt)how some neighbors are so involved in their own lives that they are totally oblivious to what is going on around them never mind right next door.Surely all these men visiting at all hours of the day and night must have raised some doubts? Then after the fact,the number of boarders (Fred and Rose also took in boarders)who then testified as to the strange noises they heard at night,is further proof that most people just do not want to get involved in the troubles of others.

Even more appalling is that after all of this,Fred then manages to commit suicide and never have to face the families of the victims.Surely he should have been watched day and night after being put in prison awaiting trial.

This book has lots and lots of photographs.Really personal photographs of Fred and Rose when they were still young.Photographs of the children and victims when they were alive and well.Photos of the house 25 Cromwell Street.There is also a 3D diagram of the house with all the different floors and a very confusing and unbelievable family tree which includes various boyfriends who were the fathers of some of Rose's children,then the children Fred had with other women,the children that this couple had together,and still the foster children they had.Really you would think there would be authorities checking up that these children were safe,but apparently not.

This writer,Howard Sounes,is able in this book to take many confusing details and present them in a way which is easy to read and folow.It is the details themselves which are very disturbing and not for the faint hearted.Venture at your own peril!

Here are some more book details:
Fred & Rose: The Full Story of Fred and Rose West and the Gloucester House of Horrors
Country: United Kingdom
Format: Softcover
Publisher: SPHERE
ISBN: 9780751513226
Publication date: December 1995
Edition: Paperback original
Pages: 362
Illustrations: Illustrated


  1. *shudder* The creepy factor on this one is very high. Sounds like the kind of book to give nightmares! Good review!

  2. I must admit - I have read alot about these two - living in Britain and all..

    And the details are as horrific as you mention....

    However the point you mentioned about neighbours not getting involved.. It is still alive and thriving in GB at the moment - you really have to make an effort to know your neighbours - as there is really a " If I don't get involved it won't affect me" attitude here - which is shamefull...

    I personally think this point is high up on the reasoning scale why they got away with this level of criminality for well on 2 decades.

    As ususal a brilliant round up - and I can add my voice to yours to say - read this book at your own peril...


  3. Caitlin,this book ranks way up there with the disturbance factor.
    E.H.I have been wondering for a while where you come from with the often used "Hon!" and I must be honest my final guess was GB but wasnt sure till now.
    I can tell you that this non friendly neighborhood thing is also very much a SA thing.The old suburbs are different where most of your neighbors are old people on pension.They are really nice and friendly but SA being a developing economy has mostly newly built suburbs and the people not so friendly.In fact,I am also guilty of thinking over-friendly neighbors are "dodgy" and wandering if they are in a cult or "swingers" group or something.Sad world we live in,hey!

  4. OMG brilliant review on a horrendous story, I was cringing just reading your review so don't know whether I could cope with the actual book.

    I'm after a recommendation for a true crime book for a challenge but maybe one a little less horrific to start on? I read horror and suspense/thrillers but obviously the 'fiction' classification is a little more protective. Don't like reading about crimes against children but would appreciate any other suggestions. Thanks muchly :-)
    Hope this comment goes through, I'm using Firefox instead of IE

  5. Gosh, just look at the photos of this couple! Creepy!

  6. "Friends and neighbours considered them a loving if somewhat eccentric couple, and their crimes went undetected for over twenty years."

    OMG! I do agree with you about people not wanting to get involved. Having trouble with gangs here because of that.

  7. Teddyree I am coming over right now with a few suggestions.
    LuAnn Fred always looked creepyeven when he was young but strangely enough Rose as a young girl actually looked quite sweet
    J Kaye we don't have so much trouble with gangs over her but last week my daughter's entire school was locked up in their classrooms while the police searched all of them for drugs.Quite a few kids were arrested including one who is actually a dealer.All of 15 years old.The more innocent kids including my daughter thought his parents were super rich because of the kind of money he used to always have on him.I just worry about getting her through this unscathed until she is mature enough to make good decisions.Another good 10 years of worrying I think....

  8. I don't know if I could handle this book because of the details. I agree with LuAnn they are creepy looking! I'll keep the book on my list but maybe I'll read it at a later date. Thanks for the warning!

  9. I think this book might scare me. Although I'm usually fine reading books. And watching scary movies. It's when things have happened or could happen that scare me. CrimeWatch still tests me. I don't know if you have CrimeWatch in the US. Is this a US blog? Anyway, CrimeWatch looks at real crimes that have happened recently. They show reconstruction and appeal for information. I don't like being reminded that people can just burst in to your house with guns, steal everything they want and then murder you. This isn't an actual case. But there was a case where a guy had climber in through an upstairs window in a child's bedroom. THAT freaked me out.

  10. Heidi its not too bad if you are prepared and brace yourself for some really disturbing info.
    Kate I amfrom South Africa so I guess this is a SA blog.We also have the Crime & Investigation network which shows programs like Crime Watch.My other UK friend says that he also watches it there..


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