It's all the fault of Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps not the first detective novels (William Godwin's Caleb Williams, according to Julian Symons in Bloody Murder, or more popularly The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins), the tales of the Baker Street sleuth nonetheless presented the first accounts of psychological profiling, characteristically drawing upon the faintest of clues. Away from one fictional figure, forensic psychologist Paul Britton was the inspiration for another, television's Cracker. Britton had been involved in the conviction of murderer Paul Bostock in 1979, now acknowledged as the first person to have been caught and convicted using psychological analysis, and he has been consulted on more than 100 subsequent cases. Picking Up the Pieces, the follow-up to The Jigsaw Man, parades a rogues' gallery of cases from his clinical casebook, as disparate and anguished as one might imagine: a man who electrocutes rabbits in place of his abusive father in a home-made electric chair; a woman possessed, supposedly after a ouija board encounter; Colin Ireland, the serial gay killer; various stalkers and rapists; and even his own Wolf-Man, like Dr Freud (though psychoanalysis barely gets a mention), who turns into a werewolf each day at 4pm. Britton's work is controversial--he was involved with the arrest of Colin Stagg for the horrific murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common in 1992, for which Stagg is considering legal action for entrapment--but when applied properly, amounts to little more than old-fashioned detective work, painstakingly worked through. The writing is sleekly episodic, wrapped around his own professional life, and while at times the neo-fictional dialogue can seem a little polished ("They used the garden because the house is full" is his response to an enquiry as to why the Wests buried bodies in the back-garden), the insights offered are genuinely interesting, and responsibly explained. And his conclusion makes grim reading: he is seeing more cases of institutionalised abuse than ever. Uncomfortably gripping. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Britton has done hugely important work that saves lives. He is fascinating. His book is compelling" (The Sunday Times)
"A unique understanding of the dark side of the human condition" (Red)
"Precise, considered, methodical. His skill is to go beyond the guise, to understand and inhabit the psychopathic mind" (Independent)