8 Memoirs and Biographies with a Crime Theme

We are celebrating National Crime Reading Month, hosted by the Crime Writers’ Association who declare that: “June is Flaming Murder”!

The crime genre is a fascinating one, and whether fiction or non-fiction, it regularly sits on the best-seller lists. Memoirs and biographies of people who have either been involved in the criminal world or fighting against crime, really do call out to people. Is there such a thing as bad and good or just unfortunate decisions or sad upbringings? Do we recognise that we all have the potential to choose an unfortunate path, make a mistake, and wonder what we would do in certain circumstances? Do we ponder the true meaning of evil, and wonder at the human capacity to cause harm and hurt? Here we have a range of memoirs and biographies with a crime theme. From police officers to forensic experts to lawyers, from career criminal to a child who was groomed for a life of crime through to a child with an upbringing that leads to tragedy, these books really do pack a punch. Emotionally powerful, provocative, and thought-provoking, they will stay with you for some time. 

Born Killers?

Born Killers?

Author: Dr Kris Mohandie Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2020

At times uncomfortable and chilling (as it should be) this is nonetheless absolutely fascinating, and a must read for anyone interested in law enforcement and the way minds work. Dr Kris Mohandie is a clinical police and forensic psychologist, in other words, a “detective of the brain”. He has worked on high profile cases and encountered some of the most dangerous people in the USA. Here he provides “an informed peek behind the curtain of criminality in a world that’s getting darker and more dangerous by the day” “providing insight into why these people do what they do and lessons we can learn as a society to help stop or at least reduce the bloodshed”. He highlights a number of cases he has worked on, from serial killers, to hostage takers, right through to mass casualty shooters. He looks at cases that are known throughout the world, such as Columbine, O.J Simpson, and Oklahoma City. Starting his career with LAPD, Dr Kris Mohandie was a consultant, working with units including SWAT. This is a man who has had to make incredibly difficult decisions, in horrendously difficult circumstances. He is honest, at times blunt, and says it as he sees it. He discusses the death penalty, the nature of evil, and mental illness. If you take a look at the press reviews on our LoveReading book page, you can see reports from people who have worked with him. Words such as “outstanding”, a “true subject matter expert”, “one of the best in the business” ring out. Born Killers? is a truly gripping read that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Star Books
The Witness

The Witness

Author: Nicola Tallant Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/05/2021

Emotionally powerful and provocative, this true story really packs a punch. At 18, Joey O’Callaghan was signed up to the Witness Protection Programme after he gave evidence in court that put away two violent drug bosses. Joey had been part of a drugs gang since he was 10, for his own safety after giving evidence he was given a new identity and relocated to England. Award winning journalist Nicola Tallant writes his tale, with his voice. A journalist for 20 years, she has: “broken countless crime exclusives, delved into the darkest corners of the underworld and come face to face with some of the most notorious gangland criminals”. She is called on for her expertise about organised crime to contribute to television and radio, and is an author of books about crime, cults, and murder. In other words, she really does know her stuff. She turns this true story over to Joey and allows us to see the grooming, the broken childhood, and the crimes as they take place with his eyes. We also see Joey’s life after he was given a new identity, and how that affected him. The before and after the court case are equally shocking, the writing is clear and open, and unfolds into what is a truly gobsmacking story. The Witness recognises what has gone wrong in society, yet it is the personal connection that really highlights the significance of this tale.

eBooks of the Month
Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/05/2021

An incredibly thoughtful, eloquent, and revealing book about policing by John Sutherland. Not only is it absolutely fascinating, there are also a whole heap of lessons that can and should be learned within its pages. John spent 25 years with the Metropolitan Police, during that time working his way to Borough Commander, leading teams as they dealt with some of the most sad and incredibly damaging aspects facing our society. Now retired on medical grounds, John is a sought-after public speaker and commentator, he regularly speaks on TV and radio, and writes for major newspapers. I can highly recommend his first book, Blue: A Memoir, this new book goes a step further. John issues an invitation to walk with him and witness the scenes behind the blue and white cordon tape. He talks about ten issues we face in the modern world, from domestic violence through to terrorism. He still cares about and loves policing, he also has huge compassion, this, linked with his ability to see the reality of policing, means he can open our eyes. Accessible, considered, meaningful, shocking, inspiring… Crossing the Line has been chosen as LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. It really is the most crucially important piece of writing for the whole of our society to absorb, all I can say is, read it! Read our Q&A with John Sutherland.

Star Books
In Black and White

In Black and White

Author: Alexandra Wilson Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Inspired to enter the legal profession following the tragic death of a dear friend, Wilson exposes a broken and unfair legal system in this eye-opening, mindset-changing memoir. She shows that it is possible to be a mixed race young woman and succeed in the rarefied world of the legal and judicial system, designed for a different time and maintained by a privileged few, with its arcane and archaic rites and traditions. Not easily, it must be said, but possible. Through her direct and personal account of the bigotry she has witnessed and faced, she also illustrates and confronts the inequality of our legal system, stating clearly that not all black young men who appear in court are gang members and not all young black women who attend court are defendants or relatives of defendants.  It sounds appalling when stated so boldly, but having been mistaken for such when in court herself as counsel – on numerous occasions on the same day - Wilson knows only too well of what she speaks and she does so with such clarity it is hard not to feel utter shame for what is still an all too enduring national stereotype. Equally riveting and inspirational, Wilson’s book clearly outlines the changes that the system needs and shows that she has the intelligence and commitment to make it happen.

Sins of Fathers

Sins of Fathers

Author: Michael Emmett Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/01/2021

An interesting and thought-provoking step into a world most of us won’t have an understanding of. Michael Emmett grew up with a career criminal for a father and joined the family business of organised crime. With links to the Kray Twins, drugs, sex, and violence he lived the high life before being sentenced to 12 years in prison after a huge drugs smuggling conviction. In prison he joined an Alpha Prayer Group, and after leaving began to turn his life around, he is now committed to helping prisoners and ex-offenders. Together with journalist Harriet Compston, he has written the story of his life of crime and consequently finding Christian faith. I think that it is important to try to reach for an understanding of the difficulties faced by children and young adults when immersed in crime from the moment they are born. This is a story that is simply told with verve and colour, though the violence and criminality sits uneasily alongside the glitz and glamour. The author uses the word ‘naughty’ to describe his criminality on several occasions, as though he is talking to the child that was. Sins of Fathers is a fascinating, eye-opening and convincing memoir from a man who is still dealing with his past.

eBooks of the Month
 Black and Blue

Black and Blue

Author: Parm Sandhu Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/06/2021

Suffused in the author’s courage and lifelong commitment to justice, Parm Sandhu’s Black and Blue is a powerfully personal and pertinent account of her life through a thirty-year career in the Met - a distinguished career that saw Sandhu vilified and confronted with accusations of gross misconduct when she spoke out against discrimination. Told in an engaging, personable style, we are taken on the author’s extraordinary journey from her childhood in Birmingham as the daughter of Punjabi immigrants, to securing a position in the highest ranks of the Met. Forced into an abusive arranged marriage at the age of sixteen, Sandhu - remarkably - fled to London with her baby boy and joined the police, where she shone in multiple departments, from crime prevention, to the police corruption unit, to counter-terrorism. But, while rising through the ranks to become the most senior BAME woman in the Met, Sandhu witnessed and experienced countless incidences of racism and sexism.  Revealing much about police procedures, the pressures and dangers Sandhu faced on a daily basis, and prejudice within the force, this is, above all, a powerful, page-turning - and often shocking - story of courage. It’s essential reading for those interested in the state of policing Britain, and for readers who enjoy memoirs with inspirational bite.

eBooks of the Month
Murder Under the Microscope

Murder Under the Microscope

Author: James Fraser Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/10/2020

This memoir from a forensic scientist and cold case reviewer makes for absolutely fascinating, and rather chilling reading. Jim Fraser has had a 40 year career which has included the cases of Rachel Nickell and Damilola Taylor. Here he looks at the murder investigations which have been difficult to solve, and cases that remain controversial or unsolved. Bringing his knowledge and personal experience into play helps build a framework of awareness of the challenges faced by investigators. I could tell in the author’s note before I started reading that it is really important to the author that this memoir is not seen as gratuitous (though it is graphic). He is clear that the book “melds recollection with reflection… supplemented with research”. As someone who worked as a member of police staff for twenty years, I found parts made for uncomfortable reading. Jim Fraser is at times damning, highlighting the downfalls of the system. It is quite obvious that with financial restraints, different systems, and human foibles, mistakes will be made, and when a life is at stake it is hard to swallow. Murder Under the Microscope offers a compelling window into a world that most know little about.

eBooks of the Month
Redeemable

Redeemable

Author: Erwin James Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/02/2017

Oh my word, this is quite simply an eye-opening must-read. Erwin James is a journalist and author, he is also a trustee of the Prison Reform Trust and patron of a number of offender rehabilitation schemes. He writes about his life, about the years of abuse and neglect and misguided love that led to him committing crime from the age of 11 through to 28 when convicted of two murders. He also writes about his years in prison, of the people who encouraged him to look back, to repent, and to understand his potential to learn how to travel a different path. Erwin James writes with huge compassion and empathy, he is blunt but not graphic, honest but not seeking sympathy. This is a man who understands what he has done, understands the prison system, and truly believes that “rehabilitation is the best way to protect the public”. ‘Redeemable’ is a hugely important book, it made me flinch and wonder at the capacity and capabilities of the human mind, it made me despair, it also made me hope, oh how it made me hope. Liz visited the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Fesitval where Erwin James gave a talk. To read more about the festival, head over to her Blog Post.

eBooks of the Month

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