Couples Who Kill: Profiles of Deviant Duos profiles American and British co-
killers. There are also chapters on British Couples Who Kill Children, Bizarre
Couples etc. and a concluding chapter which looks at the 'abuse excuse.'
What drives attractive male cousins to rape and kill ten young women? Why do
an alter girl and her boyfriend lure innocent victims into their customised torture
van? Couples who kill comprise only twenty percent of killers - but they often
murder serially and are responsible for particularly inhumane deaths.
Sadistic friends, twisted sisters and an increasingly pathological mother-son
team are amongst those profiled in this exploration of the world’s most deviant
duos. There are notable British and American cases as well as equally
scandalous but less publicised ones. The book explores the formative influences
of these killers and their deadly dynamics and includes interviews with one of the
West's surviving female victims and a man who spent time with a serial co-killer
now on Death Row.
Paperback published October 2006 by Allison & Busby. ISBN 0-74908-175-9 Priced £7.99
[Originally published in hardback in 2005 by Allison & Busby. ISBN 0-74908-357-3 Priced £17.99]
Couples Who Kill Reviews:
Being a true crime novice, I have little to compare Couples Who Kill with, but two things strike me immediately. First,
the sheer volume of murderers investigated here, and secondly, the economy of the treatment in some cases.
Leonard Lake & Charles Ng and Rose & Fred West are dealt with in some detail (more so than the Moors Murderers)
but many others have their facts represented relatively economically. Davis prose is generally sensation-free, despite
the tabloid subheadings ('Corrupted to kill', 'The torture worsens').
The author has a tendency to render judgements on subjects that are at best debatable - e.g. Christianity forbidding
masturbation - but for the most part I found this murderer's who's who strangely addictive. There are fascinating
interviews with survivors and journalists, as well as frequent updates, presumably following on from an earlier edition of
the book. My main findings are that a good serial killer needs a lonely, abusive childhood, while most victims are
complete strangers to their killers. And, best of all, I shall now be able to add a new word to my vocabulary:
Mark Campbell, Crime Time 51
A profile of differently grouped couples who have formed partnerships in murder, often sharing a particular type of
victim. Sexual desires and fantasies seem always to precede savage murder. Disposing with bodies a part of the
marriage of killing put together with details of birth and infancy, upbringing and teenage years, all of which may result
in the desire to kill. Couples sharing a pattern in murder often leads to one or both telling a third party, as was the
case in the Brady/Hindley story (in this book) who buried their bodies on Saddleworth Moor in the north of England,
telling teenager David Smith of their first four murders. When he witnessed the fifth he told the police. Twosomes in
murder represent a small number of cases but their tally is usually high enough for them to be serial killers. This book
of eighteen cases includes many of the infamous such as Rose and Fred West. Its well thought out and planned
meticulously, being section-headed for reader clarity. Hideous, bloody, terror and torture. Rape and sodomy told with
style ensuring success in a gruelling world of true crime writing. This author's work has been described as deadly'. No
stone is left upturned in the reality of understanding why. Carol Anne Davis's portfolio of published crime is as huge as
it is enjoyable. Star rating - unbelievable.
Joan Stockdale, North Wales Living
This remarkably intelligent, unexploitative and compassionate book is well worth a read if you’re remotely interested in
human psychology and the reasons why some people kill and maim others.
Carol Anne Davis - who is also known for intriguingly dark fiction that often deals innovatively with taboo subjects -
outlines a selection of gruesome case histories which show that, contrary to what some stupid people believe, healthy
individuals do not glimpse their first ever porn DVD and reach for a sharpened axe, but that the damage that leads
some people to assault, torture and kill has its roots in abusive, chaotic or repressive childhoods time after time. Ms
Davis documents the life and deeds of several sets of sexually sadistic lovers and lust murderers (such as Fred and
Rosemary West) and also includes paired killers who were not romantically linked but who might well have not
destroyed their victims had they never met each other.
Sad, thought provoking and compulsive reading.
Zak Jane Keir, Desire 57, summer 2005
In the non-fiction book, Couples Who Kill, author Carol Anne Davis does not undergo lengthy psychological
speculation that true crime authors are prone to do when writing about the lives and 'careers' of the serial killer. She
does not go into lengthy detail describing past childhood traumas, nor does she speculate what caused the individual
to choose a life of murder. It isn't necessary.
Instead, Ms Davis discusses the lives of killer duos with the clinical precision of a detective. She unfolds thirteen case
studies, each one more bizarre and horrific than the last.
Ms Davis provides the reader a brief childhood biography, then, proceeds into the killers' adult lives. Afterwards, she
gives the reader a frightening but mesmerizing detail into the duo's deeds, how they were found out, and what became
of them afterwards.
The thing that makes Couples Who Kill so terrifying is that Ms Davis does not portray these people as monsters, nor
does she treat them as victims of society. Instead, Ms Davis depicts these people as average, ordinary humans. They
are the boy, or the girl next door. They are your friends, neighbours, and in some instance your relatives. And some of
the crimes occur where you'd least expect.
And all of it is true.
Couples Who Kill is a deeply disturbing read, and not for the faint of heart. It is, however, an absolute must for any
true crime enthusiast's library.
Patricia Snodgrass, Horror World, July 2005
As she previously did in Women Who Kill and Children Who Kill, one of Britain's most bracing true-crime writers
recounts sickening events in clear, unruffled prose through which shines a passionate sympathy for all victims of
violence, especially young ones. Among dozens of duos - not necessarily romantically inclined - on both sides of the
Atlantic included here are Ian Brady and Myra Hindley; Rose and Fred West; Leonard Lake and Charles Ng; a
Mexican brother-sister pagan sex cult and self-styled German "vampires" Daniel and Manuela Ruda. Davis does not
flinch at revealing the goriest details.
Anneli Rufus, Crime Magazine, June 2005
Be warned: this is not a book for the faint-hearted. It makes the blood run cold. Although deviant duos such as the
Moors Murderers and the Wests comprise only 20 percent of killers, their crimes are often among the most sadistic
and stomach-churning and they tend to be among the most prolific of serial killers. But it’s not all blood and bodies:
Carol Anne Davis does probe the personalities of the murderers, the influences that made them what they were and
includes expert opinion to back up her theories. A well-rounded and informative look at an horrific subject.
Northern Echo, May 2005
In her third true crime compendium, COUPLES WHO KILL: PROFILES OF DEVIANT DUOS, Carol Anne Davis
profiles joint killers. This book is a disturbing but vital wake-up call, particularly for politicians who talk big
about getting tough on crime.
Why do people conspire to commit murder, particularly murder of random strangers and serial murder? Profit,
jealousy, mental illness, and megalomania can be motives. However, in most of the most notorious 20th century
cases, Davis argues, the killers were from abusive or deeply dysfunctional family backgrounds. The authorities failed
to intervene, and the children wound up in dead-end jobs, with nothing to give them the sense of self-worth their
families denied. They grew up to repeat, and escalate, the cycle.
Lest you dismiss Davis's contention as woolly-liberal apologism, let's run through a short roster of the cases profiled
in COUPLES WHO KILL. Rose and Fred West were both battered and sexually abused by their parents throughout
their childhoods. Marlene Louise Olive's adoptive father allowed her mentally ill, alcoholic mother to belittle and
brutalise their daughter, whom he introduced to business colleagues as his 'date'. She and her boyfriend conspired to
murder them. The serial killer Alton Coleman was prostituted as a child by his mother. Another serial killer, Kenneth
Bianchi, grew up in serious neglect. So did Frances Schreuder, who conspired with her son to kill her father. That
son, Marc Schreuder, had been neglected and abused by his mother from the time he was born.
It is possible for the abuse survivor to escape from the cycle before he or she becomes homicidal, Davis concedes,
but the people who do tend either to find something healthy to be passionate about or to internalise the abuse instead
of radiating it outward.
Most of the crimes Davis surveys took place in the 20th century, and the earliest killers profiled were Victorian.
However, the patterns she identifies have nothing to do with 'modern culture', as one legendary case that Davis does
not mention demonstrates.
The Renaissance woman Beatrice Cenci, a 22-year-old daughter of one of the more powerful and influential
aristocratic families in 16th century Rome, conspired with her stepmother, her brother and her reputed lover to murder
her father, a powerful Count whose reputed father was Pope Alexander VI. In 1599, after the lover was murdered by
the command of a priest who then fled the city, the regime of Pope Clement VIII subjected the remaining members of
the conspiracy to torture, trial, ultimately convicting and executing them.
During the trial, the Cencis' lawyer revealed that the Count had raped his daughter, and had terrorised his entire
household for years. Indeed, earlier judicial records show that sexagenarian murder victim had been in and out of the
courts, charged and sometimes convicted of violent crimes, including numerous sexual assaults, since he was 11
Davis's profiles suggest that, although the technology of murder has in some respects changed, human psychology
and the failure of politicians to recognise domestic violence as a catalyst for supposedly inexplicable crimes has not.
Davis's repetition of certain phrases, such as 'leastways,' becomes mildly annoying. In one instance, that phrase
turns up twice on the same page. The cases are only analysed in comparison to each other in the final chapter, but it
should have been the introduction, especially as the book does not have an introductory chapter, but only a one-page
However, COUPLES WHO KILL remains an eye-opening, if horrifying, read. A copy of it, along with copies of Davis's
WOMEN WHO KILL and CHILDREN WHO KILL, should be posted to all politicians. If they really want to reduce
violent crime, they should resolve to be tough on domestic violence, child neglect, and prostitution.
Rebecca Nesvet, Reviewing The Evidence, Apr 2005
Couples Who Kill is a brilliantly researched, well-written documentation of the darker aspects of human nature. Davis’
ability to remain a neutral reporter while conveying the human impact of the cases in question is spectacular, and her
ability to draw conclusions that feel in no way kneejerk or sensationalist is admirable. Perhaps she could devote
larger chunks of space to certain cases, and it is clear that if she wished, she could write a spectacular book on one
study alone, but this does nothing to diminish the impact of this literate, affecting and disturbing investigation into the
dark shared psyche of these deviant duos.
Crime Scene Scotland, Mar 2005
Having investigated women who kill and children who kill, Carol Anne Davis has now turned her attention to homicidal
duos. As she points out in a foreword, her focus is by no means confined to heterosexual pairings such as
Brady/Hindley and Fred and Rose West: 'herein you'll find serial torture-killer cousins, an increasingly unbalanced
mother-son duo, psychotic sisters and a cult-based brother and sister team.' The material is inevitably lurid, but Davis
is a serious rather than excessively sensational true crime writer (as well as being the author of several dark and
disturbing novels) and she offers much that is of interest. She is in little doubt that Rose West was justly convicted
(unlike those who believe she was in effect a victim of guilt by association) and her arguments are convincing. The
other cases covered included the strange case of Charlotte and Lea Papin and the extraordinary criminal careers of
sometime butler Archibald Hall and his colleague Michael Kitto. All in all, this is probably Davis's most intriguing non-
fiction book to date.
Martin Edwards, Tangled Web, Mar 2005
There are thousands of true crime books which focus on the sensational issues surrounding murder. Great for an
author who wants to make a quick buck and for the reader who requires bloody titillation – but what about those who
want a little more depth to their reading? Carol Anne Davis might just provide the resolution. Here is someone who has
devoted an enormous amount of time to research in order to provide the reader with more insight, and hopefully,
understanding into what drives a person to murder. Never judgemental, never patronising, she simply presents her
facts in an absorbing and fascinating manner. Davis does not try to excuse the actions, nor does she condemn; her
cases are presented with a refreshing open-mindedness that presents the ‘evidence’ and leaves the reader to draw
their own conclusions.
It is intelligent and compulsive reading, made more appealing by the fact that, alongside some of the better-known
cases such as the Moors Murders and the Hillside Stranglers, there are many lesser known, yet equally fascinating –
if not more, given that they have not gained the exposure and notoriety – cases alongside. As Davis says, she doesn’t
want to look at the crime, but rather the people, and this shows through passionately; there is care in her writing,
thoughtfulness as well as real dedication and belief in her subject.
Macavity's, Feb 2005