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Hyatt-Williams, A. (1991). The Lust to Kill A Feminist Investigation of Sexual Murder, by Deborah Cameron and Elizabeth Fraser, Oxford: Polity, 1987, 207 pages, pb £9.95. Free Associations, 2(3):461-462.

(1991). Free Associations, 2(3):461-462

The Lust to Kill A Feminist Investigation of Sexual Murder, by Deborah Cameron and Elizabeth Fraser, Oxford: Polity, 1987, 207 pages, pb £9.95

Review by:
Arthur Hyatt-Williams

As stated on the cover, this is a book which has been researched scrupulously, written clearly, and in every way is well worth the detailed attention of its readers. The two women authors proclaim their espousal of feminism and state that their aim in writing this book is to show how sexual murder in general, and multiple murder in particular, is primarily a male monopoly, usually with the female as the victim. The fact that all of Nilsen's sixteen victims were male does not get much emphasis. On the other hand, however, the Moors murders, and in particular the role of Myra Hindley, are given considerable attention and much conjecture. But, despite all the work which has been devoted to this study, in the opinion of the reviewer, the authors have put themselves into a self-imposed strait-jacket as far as further discovery is concerned regarding the origins and aetiology of murderousness, and of that important category which is sexual murder. Their field of vision is restricted by their adoption of the feminist perspective, which, while highlighting some important truths, scotomizes others. The ability to see things in the course of the study which are at present unknown is blocked by regarding the whole phenomenology of murder from this restricted vertex. It would have not been restrictive had the proclivity of males to kill females been a conclusion rather than a premiss.

Access to material information must have been a problem for the authors. This might have been inevitable, but where it seems to have occurred and case material of a limited, almost hearsay kind then been used to develop important arguments, this can be misleading and result in wrong conclusions being reached. The reviewer knew several of the persons (cases) discussed and has had access to more comprehensive details regarding several others.

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