A British journalist probes the troubled psyche of a notorious killer.
In his first book, Hankinson takes great formal risks in presenting a story that might sustain suspense for American readers but is well-known in Britain from saturation newspaper coverage and previous books. The subject is the last week or so in the life of Raoul Moat, a period in which he was released from prison and proceeded to gun down the new boyfriend of his former girlfriend as well as wounding her and a police officer. Moat then proceeded to hide out with two friends whom he termed hostages but who were subsequently convicted as accomplices. The tick-tock narrative is written in both the present tense and the second person, meaning that Moat is the “you” addressed by the author. Thus, readers get inside the head of the murderer, thinking his thoughts and explaining his motivations. The approach may well cultivate even more empathy than a more common first-person narrative, but readers will hardly feel comfortable in Moat’s skin. Obsession leads to plenty of repetition, as he rants about how this is as much his former girlfriend’s fault: for betraying him and shunning him and mocking him and ultimately for costing another man his life by lying about him. Paranoia runs rampant throughout, as police are out to get him when he has done nothing wrong, psychiatry fails him (though he often fails to keep appointments), and social workers are “witches.” The context provided by Hankinson, particularly following Moat’s death, goes a long way toward showing how much of this tragedy could have been prevented, how the police failed the victims and social services failed the troubled killer, and how a disturbed mother and a troubled childhood had left Moat marked. Ultimately, though, putting both the narrative and readers inside the head of the subject is a gamble that meets with mixed success.
True crime from a radically different perspective.