Book name: Serial Killers of Russia
Author: Wensley Clarkson
Publisher: Welbeck Publishing
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Publication Date: 2021
Star Rating: 5/5
As Wensley Clarkson makes clear from the beginning of Serial Killers in Russia, we associate this phenomenon with the United States.
This is primarily due to the sheer number of American murders attributed to serial killers every year and also the openness of western societies to reporting the truth.
However, one of (if not the most) prolific sources of modern serial killers may well be Russia.
This has been concealed because Soviet and post-Soviet governments have been less than forthcoming about their own crime statistics.
Local police forces have been underfunded and lacking in accountability, leading to a national situation where disappearances could be attributed to people ‘running away’.
This conveniently meant that the police did not have to bother investigating when someone went missing.
Even when bodies were discovered, it was all too usual to merely torture a confession out of a convenient suspect.
And even when the will to detect the real killer existed, lack of support, funding and modern equipment meant that killers still evaded justice in almost all cases.
Often, multiple murders were not even connected to the same killer, so that the label ‘serial killer’ was not applied.
Each chapter provides an overview of a modern-day serial killer in either Soviet or post-Soviet Russia.
The details are profoundly disturbing, but Wensley Clarkson works hard to set the murders in national and historical context.
Why were so many young people’s disappearances never investigated? Why do so many of the cases involve cannibalism?
The scope of the book (an overview of a national history of serial killings) means that the nine chapters devoted each to one serial killer necessarily provide only a brief portrait.
This, and very likely a profound lack of information about the victims, did not allow for the intense ‘rehumanising’ of each victim that we associate with western books and TV shows in the real-life serial killer genre.
Wensley Clarkson retained a profound compassion and humanity towards the many victims, even though the secretive nature of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia meant that few details of the victim’s life were available and there were only a very limited number of comments from the victims’ families.
Perhaps that is inevitable in a single book designed to provide a national overview. It did not prevent me from finding this book fascinating. The stories were appallingly gruesome, but this honesty in the telling was essential to help overcome the secrecy and denial that have been at the core of Russia’s treatment of its many serial killers.
I would highly recommend Serial Killers of Russia, and I really appreciated the efforts Wensley Clarkson went to in order to uncover the truth at last.
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