Sadistic Killers: Profiles of Pathological Predators profiles British, American,
Australian, Austrian and French sadists. It includes white collar sadists such as
computer operator Richard Cottingham and journalist Johann Jack Unterweger, as
well as manual worker Victor Miller. There are also themed chapters on Female
Sadists, Sadists Who Kill Men, Sadists Who Kill Children, etc.
Sadistic Killers explores the lives of the of the world’s most depraved male and
female murderers, delineating their formative influences and subsequent crimes.
The book also has a chapter on consensual sadomasochism as, incredibly,
many crime writers and psychiatrists fail to make a distinction between
recreational and criminal sadism: the law is also unclear about this. As such,
Sadistic Killers includes a lengthy interview with BDSM expert Lynn Paula
Russell, renowned for her erotic writing and art. The final chapter looks at the
work of Dr Bob Johnson who has treated violent prisoners by helping them come
to terms with their abused pasts.
Paperback original published February 2007, Reprinted 2008 by Summersdale
ISBN10: 1-840245-81-6 ISBN13: 978-1-840245-81-3 Priced £7.99
Sadistic Killers Reviews:
Tackling a true-crime book entitled Sadistic Killers generated feelings of unease: was I reading to learn and
understand, or guilty of ghoulishly peering into an abyss of extreme cruelty and depravity? Fortunately, this book feels
more educational than voyeuristic, being saved by Davis’s non-sensationalistic prose, descriptions of the formative
influences on sadistic killers, a contrasting chapter on consensual sadomasochism, and a concluding chapter on
therapeutic successes with sadistic killers.
The book begins by examining British, American and Australian cases. It follows with chapters on sadists who kill
men, sadists who kill women, who kill children and who kill indiscriminately, followed by a chapter entitled Female
Sadists - a startling reminder that the vast majority of sadistic killers are men (usually working class and usually in
their twenties or thirties). Unsurprisingly, the killers’ backgrounds have recurrent themes of childhood abuse,
dysfunctional families and early signs of sadism that went unchecked.
Reading what the victims had to endure is extremely harrowing: particularly when, as with Suzanne Capper, their
torment lasted for days. Nevertheless it ends on a note of partial optimism. Dr Bob Johnson’s 700 hours of interviews
with eighteen psychopaths in Parkhurst Prison led him to conclude that most sadistic killers are made evil by
childhood trauma, rather than being born evil. His work was, unfortunately, cut short when the prisoners were
relocated at a crucial time in their therapy. Who knows how many troubled children could be prevented from growing
into sadistic killers, given more research into the causes and symptoms? Davis doesn’t excuse the killers’ behaviour
but does make it more comprehensible.
Julian Maynard-Smith, Mystery Women, October 2007
This rather horrific addition to the already-teeming library of true crime takes us jump seat on a one-way ride to
depravity, sickness and brutality. The fascination humankind has for its most evil murderers, its most inhumane and
uncompassionate torturers, its devils in pathological disguise, can again be indulged in Carol Anne Davis’s latest work
Sadistic Killers... a useful, if not disturbing, quick reference guide to the best of the worst.
Independent Weekly InDaily, online bulletin 18 October 2007.
...Carol Anne Davis is a positive and human writer who helps us understand the darkness – she doesn’t just lead us
in. The last chapter of Sadistic Killers is called Changing Things and, once again, that’s the point.
Dundee Evening Telegraph, May 2007
Her latest True Crime book – Carol also writes Crime Fiction – in which the focus is on a certain type of killer,
probably the nastiest kind, where sadism is the prime moving force and gives - what the murderer is after - sexual
satisfaction. Her aim is to find answers to the questions, "How can we prevent sadistic killers being formed?" and also
"How can we treat those who already exist and who have committed terrible crimes?".
So, in order to find the answer to these questions, the author examines in detail the lives and crimes of an impressive
number of killers who fit into this category and in doing so interesting facts emerge regarding, for example, differences
between British, American and Australian killers of this kind. A section is devoted to each of these and also particular
attention is given to Female Sadists. Consensual Sadomasochism forms the subject of another chapter where certain
well known people are given as examples in order to provide further enlightenment on the subject. We are probably all
familiar with the conditions which the author lists and which we know can influence the development and nurturing of
the kind of nature which results in the horrendous acts we read about in this book – life in an impoverished and
brutalising home environment, a school life where sadistic methods of control are practised daily, perhaps prison
experiences where the same ingredients are present.
Carol Anne Davis, in attempting to provide answers to the questions she has posed, has spent time with and has
observed the work of Dr Bob Johnson, a prison psychiatrist, who treated, with some success, a number of
psychopaths, before the unit where he was carrying out his work was closed. A BBC Panorama programme
publicised his important work, but it was too late to change the decision by the then Home Secretary, Michael
Howard. This book is well researched, thorough in all aspects of the subject examined, and the author's plea for a
more enlightened approach to the treatment of such killers can only be considered admirable.
Phyllis Davies, Tangled Web, May 2007
Detailing dozens of examples of almost unimaginable cruelty, this omnibus from the author of Women Who Kill and
Children Who Kill will disabuse you of ever feeling safe again, with anyone, anywhere. From mother-of-three Jean
Powell, who with young accomplices in 1992 tortured a learning-disabled teenage girl for a week – yanking out two of
her teeth with pliers before killing her – to Paul Beart, who in 2001 used his bare hands to rip his victim’s skin apart as
she begged for her life, these are visions of hell on earth.
Anneli Rufus, Crime Magazine, May 2007
While true crime is not a category of book that we usually cover within the pages of Desire, this book merits inclusion
because, in a bid to differentiate between criminal sadism and the type of edgy sex games enjoyed by safe, sane and
consensual folk, the author has included a very positive and enlightening chapter on consensual sadomasochism.
“I wanted to write a book profiling criminal sadists yet didn’t want law-abiding people with BDSM fantasies to feel that
they were being included in this pathological group,” she explains. As such, Davis includes testimony from erotic
artist Lynn Paula Russell and fetish author Mark Ramsden about their ‘kinky’ sexual experiences, to illustrate that the
grim but bleakly compelling tales of rape, torture and murder that make up the greater part of this book, are ‘a world
away’ from the much misunderstood domains of sub/dom and power play eroticism. And quite right too!
Ian Lowey, Desire magazine issue 63
The work of Carol Anne Davis divides neatly into two categories, psychosexual thrillers and accounts of true crimes.
Her latest comes from the second of these and the fact that it’s the kind of horror show my nastier half enjoys while
my nicer half knows I shouldn’t is somewhat excused by its superiority to most in the genre.
These biographies of the US and UK’s lesser known but most bloodthirsty murderers are written in a direct and
unfussy style, each chapter outlining the subject’s formative years before progressing to their offences. For Davis, it
all begins in childhood. Blighted upbringings characterised by beatings, rape and torture are where the atrocities
perpetrated by the adult find their cause – though not mitigation – and in the ‘toxic memories’ such experiences
Obvious really, but at least these histories are grounded in a theoretical framework usually absent from this type of
writing. Underpinning such an approach is a fascinating section on psychiatrist Bob Johnson’s work with maximum-
security offenders at Parkhurst prison in the 1990s. (The extended interview with BDSM expert Lynn Paula Russell
exploring the world of consensual sadism is of no lesser interest; however, within the rest of the book this seems a
mite tacked on.) Enthralling in a queasy way, Sadistic Killers’ power lies as much in the violence meted out by the
men and women it describes as those circumstances very often influencing them.
Jack Lawrence, Forum magazine web site.