Book of Executions

James Bland

A voluminous collection of the skinny on the many ways man has legally done away with his fellow man over the years. Although entries like “Hanging” and “Electric Chair” cover little ground not already familiar to the average capital punishment buff, there are plenty of brief entries about bizarre, obscure and quite painful death penalties. Consider the deterrence value of sentences like “Eaten by crocodiles,” “Sawn in half,” and “Burned internally.” Ouch! Plenty of inspiration awaits for both rabid law-and-order types and slasher-movie screenwriters. JM

Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Paperback: 436 pages

Crime: An Encyclopedia

Oliver Cyriak

There’s no shortage of books pretending to be “crime encyclopedias” of one sort or another, and this one fits right into the middle of the pack. More accurate than some, less comprehensive than others, Crime is pretty much an average crime reference book. Given the low standards prevailing in the field, this isn’t saying much. Somewhat sketchy with articles on individual criminals, it’s better at covering general topics like “repeat killers” and “sex crimes.” There are many more comprehensive (albeit more expensive) volumes. You have been warned. JM

Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Hardback: 468 pages

Holy Killers: True Stories of Murderous Clerics, Priests and Religious Leaders

Brian McConnell

Nine commandments are all they can remember. “Delves into the archives to tell the extraordinary and gripping stories of over 20 clerics, priests and cult leaders who resorted to murder to resolve their personal or collective obsessions. Father Matthew Peiris, Anglican faith-healer from Letchworth, untruthfully diagnosed diabetes in his wife and his lover’s husband and gave them both fatal doses of insulin. Rev. George Dyson, Methodist minister from Westminster, gave comfort to a lovelorn grocer’s wife and liquid chloroform to put in her husband’s final brandy nightcap.” And Anglican Michael Taylor, who killed “the devil” in his wife: “With his bare hands, he tore her eyes out. He tore her tongue out. He tore her face almost from the bones and she died choking on her own blood.” GR

Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Paperback: 378 pages

The Jack the Ripper A to Z

Paul Begg, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner

Solve the crime of the century in your spare time! “Compiled in encyclopedic form by three of the world’s leading experts on the subject,” this revised edition brings together “all that is known on the subject… and provides a compelling insight into the enigma which still exerts such a fascination more than a century later.” Fresh info on: Dr. Tumblety, the subject of the “little child letter,” which discloses that “the head of Special Branch’s preferred suspect was arrested but escaped to the United States. The theory of Joseph Barnett, the lover of the last victim, who closely matches the FBI’s psychological profile of the Ripper.” And “the sensational ongoing story of the alleged diary confession of James Maybrick.” Hoaxes and bogus information are debunked; autopsy reports are supplied; newspaper accounts are furnished; people involved are profiled; theories and clues abound. GR

Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Paperback: 560 pages

Rack, Rope and Red-Hot Pincers: A History of Torture and Its Instruments

Geoffrey Abbott

“This book discusses the history of torture, from medieval times to 1850. Roughly half of its material is about England (mainly, the Tower of London), and the other half miscellaneous areas of continental Europe. It covers the well-known instruments, such as the rack, iron maiden and guillotine. There are also a lot rare ones, such as the Duke of Exeter’s invention. There are muzzles for nagging wives, and topless public bull-whipping of female criminals.”

Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Paperback: 243 pages

Unquiet Minds: The World of Forensic Psychiatry

Hugh Miller

Forensic psychiatrists are the doctors who deal with mentally disordered offenders. They determine who’s the real nut case and who’s the faker. “Time has blessed me with a touch of wisdom and a lot of suspicion,” says a British doctor of psychiatry. “Spotting fakers is a challenge which I take very personally. I never let myself forget I’m working in a muddy territory between madness and badness. I stay alert all the time. These days they have to be pretty good to get past me.” Some of the real-life cases in this book are: “A 32-year-old German who raped and murdered 10 women in his search for an ideal lover. Beatrice… suspected her family of conspiring to take away her imaginary ‘birthright’; in a fit of anger she killed her mother, stabbing her 40 times with a kitchen knife. A gym teacher, convinced he was a macho incarnation of Jesus Christ, embarked on a vicious campaign to rid his neighborhood of the agents of Satan, who happened to include every person who owned a green car.” GR

Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Paperback: 305 pages