Shankhill Butchers: A Case Study of Mass Murder

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9780091740443: Shankhill Butchers: A Case Study of Mass Murder

First published in 1999. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A chilling, stomach-turning study of Northern Ireland's infamous Shankill Butchers, a Loyalist gang of murderers who preyed on Belfast's Catholic population. Investigative journalist Dillon, who published this account a decade ago in Great Britain, describes the bloody handiwork of the Shankill Butchers. Operating out of Protestant West Belfast, the Butchers were members of a Loyalist paramilitary group (the Ulster Volunteer Force, or UVF), and were led by a sadistic, anti-Catholic psychopath named Lenny Murphy. Murphy would become ``the biggest mass murderer in British history,'' according to Dillon, who details Murphy's journey from schoolyard bully to petty criminal to cold-blooded serial killer. Dillon argues that Northern Ireland's toxic atmosphere of sectarian hatreds played a crucial role in producing Murphy, who used anti-Catholic ideology as a convenient cover for his sadistic love of violence. He murdered his first Catholic in 1972, beginning a killing spree that would last a decade. Accompanied by three gang members, Murphy would typically drive through Catholic areas of Belfast at night. Once a potential victim (usually a drunken man) had been located, Murphy would abduct him, torture him, and cut his throat with a butcher knife. Murphy visibly enjoyed killing Catholics, and Dillon's graphic descriptions of several murders make for gruesome reading. (Murphy typically ``hacked through his victim's throat until the knife touched the spine'' or ``until the head was almost severed from the trunk.'') Dillon also reproduces autopsy and police reports that will have queasy readers skipping over the gory details. The Butchers proved difficult to catch because the public of Northern Ireland were accustomed to shocking levels of sectarian violence and generally refused to cooperate with police. The Butchers were finally caught when one of their Catholic victims miraculously survived, and had the courage to testify against them. Murphy was murdered in 1982 by the Irish Republican Army, his sworn enemy. A notably depressing read that exposes the horror of Northern Ireland's history. (21 b&w photos) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Review:

"Mr. Dillon recounts in chilling detail the evolution of Murphy's gang and the efforts to catch them. It makes for gripping but altogether terrifying reading."
-"Washington Times
"A chilling stomach-turning study of Northern Ireland's infamous Shankill Butchers, a Loyalist gang of murderers who preyed on Belfast's Catholic population."
-"Kirkus, 3/5/99
"A chilling book, chilling but fascinating... People on both sides--or some of them--are likely to read Martin Dillon, and to learn from him."
-Conor Cruise O'Brien
"Dillon's books are a working lifetime's brave and persistent effort to get information of a kind which, as he frankly says, can be perilous to possess, let alone to reveal."
-"Times Literary Supplement
"Dillon is recommended reading for anyone wishing to understand the complexities of British- Irish politics. He stands alone as one of the most creative writers of our time."
-"Irish Times

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Martin Dillon
Published by Hutchinson (1989)
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Martin Dillon
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