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What's The Best Book To Read On The Moors Murders?

Any suggestions? There don't seem to be many. Shocking!


Beyond Belief


One of your own by Carol Ann Lee, a biography of Myra Hindley. Very well researched and well-written.


"In 1999 Duncan Staff made a documentary on the Moors murders for BBC2. In the course of producing this programme he, as a matter of course, invited Myra Hindley to put across her side of the story. Much to his surprise, she agreed. What followed was a correspondence in which Hindley spoke candidly about some aspects of her crimes. The programme aired, concluding unquestioningly with a reaffirmation of her guilt. After her death, her estate sent Duncan Myra Hindley’s unpublished papers - which proved a window into the disturbed world of Hindley and Brady. Drawing on this unique resource, and combined with extensive research, the co-operation of the families of the victims, the police and expert witnesses Duncan Staff has written this authoritative investigation into these infamous crimes."

If you're in the US, you'll have to get it as an import or buy it from


To date, there are at least four books to read if you want a comprehensive understanding of the Moors Murders.

Two books from the late 1980s, both written after Myra Hindley confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett:

1.) Myra Hindley: Inside the Mind of a Murderess by Jean Ritchie
2.) Topping: The Autobiography of the Police Chief in the Moors Murders Case by Peter Topping with Jean Ritchie

Two more recent books, both written after Myra Hindley died in 2002:

3.) The Lost Boy: The Definitive Story of the Moors Murders and the Search for the Final Victim by Duncan Staff
4.) One of Your Own: The Life and Death of Myra Hindley by Carol Ann Lee

Apart from these four, most of the other books about the Moors Murders are badly written, sensationalist pap. One particularly atrocious example is The Devil and Miss Jones: Inside the Twisted Mind of Myra Hindley by Janie Jones - a shameless, self-serving and miserably written bit of catty kiss-and-tell fluff penned by one Myra's former prison mates. Also, For the Love of Lesley by Ann West (the mother of Moors victim Lesley Ann Downey) is rather depressing and not very good to read for something different than the usual reasons - the author is simply too blinded by anguish to think or write clearly.

Brady and Hindley: The Genesis of the Moors Murders, by Fred Harrison, is credited with breaking Ian Brady's 1985 confession about the Reade and Bennett murders. But in my opinion, the book is not particularly insightful or well-written. And Ian Brady's own speculative tome on all things dull and ugly, The Gates of Janus, amounts to nothing more than the pretentious, self-indulgent ramblings of an embittered, vengeful sociopath. For nearly 300 pages, Brady postures like Hannibal Lecter and flaunts his windy pseudo-intellectualism and ten-dollar vocabulary along with his undiminished depravity and monstrously huge ego. As a result, Janus is a painfully monotonous and tiresome read that yields practically no insight.

Likewise, be sure to avoid Emlyn Williams' unfortunately popular 1967 book Beyond Belief. Not only is it pretentiously written (he tries to do what Truman Capote did for the Clutter murders in In Cold Blood - and he does it badly), the book is also factually inaccurate and terribly dated.

Pamela Hansford Johnson's On Iniquity: Some Personal Reflections Rising From the Moors Murders Trial is worth a read, as the author was actually present during the trial at Chester Assizes in 1966. Emlyn Williams was also present at the trial, but Johnson doesn't overreach like he does - and, unlike Williams, she actually brings some worthwhile thoughts to bear on the matter.

Jonathan Goodman's The Moors Murders: The Trial of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady is an actual transcript of the entire 1966 trial. For historical and documentary purposes, it is an invaluable resource about the case.


What an excellent post, redskiesmaxx. I must also add that anyone considering Chris Cowley's 'Face to Face with Evil: Conversations with Ian Brady' should avoid it like the plague. He went to visit him for 6 years and has about 5 sentences of dialogue to show for it. The rest of the book consists of pathetically elementary theories for dummies about American serial killers. Yet Cowley is probably deluded into thinking that he is some sort of Clarice Starling genius who was the only person who could get close to Brady. He hasn't at all.

As for the best book, I'd have to say Carol Ann Lee's, as mentioned above. Published in 2010, it is the newest (Cowley's crap I spoke about above doesn't count) and thus benefits from hindsight. It is also the best-researched.


I'd just posted about books on this and a few other cases in another thread here; I second the recommendation for "The Lost Boy," having read it not long ago myself. I'd not yet looked into the other titles, but thank you for the reviews; I'd rather not waste precious hours reading sensationalist crap! (I'm trudging through "The Gates Of Janus" right now, and...yikes.)

Informative and appreciated.

~ ~


The Monsters Of The Moors


In my opinion only...

The great
One of Your Own by Carol Ann Lee - The critically acclaimed biography of Myra Hindley, and the best book ever written the case. Incredibly well-researched, and very accurate in all places. Contains extracts from Hindley's previously unseen writings, which speak volumes about her character. The updated 2011 edition includes information from Keith Bennett's brother Alan as to what happened when he approached her to help him find Keith's body.
Witness by Carol Ann Lee/David Smith - The memoirs of David Smith, written shortly before his death 2012. Hindley's brother-in-law from witnessed the final murder and shopped the pair to the police. Very compelling, and offers a whole new insight into the murderers.
The Trail of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley by Jonathan Goodman: The abridged trial transcript, a very valuable resource on the case, and contains a wealth of rare material. The introduction was written in 1971, so is out-of-date now, but contained the basic information that was known at the time.

The good
Inside the Mind of a Murderess by Jean Ritchie - The first biography of Hindley, published in 1988, after the discovery of Pauline Reade's book on the moors. A book of it's time, and although so much more is now known, the author did her research very well. Provides a wealth of information about Hindley's life in prison.
The Moor Murders by David Marchbanks - The best of the contemporary accounts. Published in 1966, the author had a good insight into the chain of events.
The Monsters of the Moors by John Deane Potter - Another one from 1966, written by a well-known journalist of the day. Lots of chapters, and interviews with local people who lived in the same era where the crimes took place.
Devil's Disciples by Robert Wilson - A sensationalist, but easy-to-read account of the crimes, by a journalist who covered the story for the Star newspaper at the time. It was published in 1986 before it was known for sure that Brady and Hindley had killed Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett. Includes interviews with David Smith and the victims families, and lots of pictures. A sequel was published in 1988, Return to Hell.

The bad
The Lost Boy by Duncan Staff - Factually inaccurate in many places. Misleading title, it isn't a book about Keith Bennett and the continuing search, it's basically another book about Hindley.
Beyond Belief by Emlyn Williams - Beautifully written novel, but it was semi-fiction, and many of the author's theories have since been proved wrong.
Brady and Hindley by Fred Harrison - A book filled with Ian Brady talking garbage to a reporter, of whom he finally confessed to the Reade and Bennett murders in 1986. Lots of information that's confusing and of no relevance anymore. Not particularly well written either.

For the Love Of Lesley by Ann West - A heart-breaking account of Ann West's story as the mother of Lesley Ann Downey, the couple's youngest victim. Very sad.
Topping by Peter Topping - The self-righteous memoirs of the 1980s police chief in charge of the case. Contains Hindley's confession, and much information about Ian Brady.

Other books that I haven't read include On Iniquity by Pamela Hansford Johnson and Satan's Children by Gerald Sparrow, both from the 1960s.