I was delighted to be sent a copy of the debut book from author Robert Giles, who has collaborated with former Norfolk Police Intelligence officer (Ret’d) and true crime/cold case author Chris Clark, on the subject of a groundbreaking book concerning the life and crimes of the reviled, late British serial killer Robert Black. Black is often overlooked in the annals of British crime, despite the revulsion of his crimes, and makes for a fascinating study, so any text concerning the case will always be found on the reading list of TTCE. The Face Of Evil is just so.
Through conversations with both the authors, I know exactly the hard work and research that has gone into creating the book. I also know that, through events of years past, the Robert Black case has a personal connection to Chris. So I eagerly anticipated its publication and Chris was good enough to send me a copy for review (and of course, my library). And I wasn’t disappointed.
At 314 pages, it is the perfect reading size really. The pagination shows the depth of coverage of the subject, and this size does not daunt the reader. Also contained within are 8 pages of colour/black and white photographs that will impress the reader for the variation and uniqueness of them. As I have said before, I am always impressed with detail and will search out a book concerning a subject that I already have blanket coverage of on my shelves if it contains even one or two previously unknown details to myself.
Structured into two parts (the authors have written a part each) the first part chronicles Robert Black’s life and crimes, up to his arrest, trial and imprisonment. This recounting of Black’s life and crimes is quite simply phenomenal. As I have stated in several of my other book reviews on TTCE, I am greatly impressed with detail. The detail contained here is staggering, and the reader will be left in no doubt of the dedication, time and effort that Robert has put into researching and writing this book. It is the latest in only a handful of books concerning Black, and I am in no doubt that it deservedly should become the canonical one. Covered expertly.
It would not be for me to recount in full here the horrific crimes that Robert Black was imprisoned for. Not only do the authors of The Face Of Evil do this comprehensively and engagingly, but another area where the book stands out for me is the work that has gone in to examining Black’s possible culpability in many other unsolved murders of children, not just in the United Kingdom but throughout Europe also. Reader’s of Chris’s other works will recognise here the approach taken to researching these cold cases, and will find within strong, well-founded arguments suggesting Black’s culpability in the cases that he is widely suspected of. Some of these unsolved cases will be familiar names to the true crime reader, whilst others will be widely unknown (several I was unaware of before reading).
The only critical points with The Face Of Evil I found, and I must say these are slight and should in no way should reflect upon the authors at all, is that due to the amount of information contained within, I believe that the book may have benefited with an index. This would have benefited the reader (like myself) who is interested in researching further names and cases mentioned. There are also slight typeface errors and changes in font scattered at a few points throughout the book and a discrepancy between the actual and advertised book covers – but I should stress these lie at the foot of the publishers, not the authors.
This is a book I found fascinating, well written and very informative. For Chris, it is yet another literary success and for Robert, deservedly his first. A very worthwhile addition to any true crime shelf, and highly recommended.
The True Crime Enthusiast