Fred & Rose - Howard Sounes

Reading Challenge Category: Wanted to find out more about this terrible case

Official Blurb:

Fred and Rose West are virtually unique in British criminal history: a husband and wife who loved and killed together.
During their long relationship, the Wests murdered a series of young women, burying the remains of nine victims under their home at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, including those of their daughter. What was left of Fred West's eight-year-old stepdaughter was dug up from under the Wests' previous Gloucester home; his first wife and nanny were buried in open country. Most victims had been decapitated and dismembered, their remains showing signs of sexual torture. These twelve are just the ones police found when the Wests were arrested in 1994. There may be more whose bones have not been located . . .
Howard Sounes broke the first major story about the Wests as a journalist, and covered the murder trial of Rosemary West, before writing Fred & Rose, the definitive account of this infamous case. Beginning with Fred's and Rose's bizarre childhoods, Sounes charts their lives and crimes in forensic detail, creating a fascinating and truly frightening account of a marriage soaked in blood.

My Thoughts:

Fred and Rose by Howard Sounes is a disturbing but eye-opening book that provides a deeper insight into the lives of Fred and Rose West. As someone who was already familiar with their story, I was still shocked by some of the details revealed in this book. Some parts made me feel physically sick, but I couldn't stop reading.
One thing that struck me was how the children of Fred and Rose still loved their father despite all the horrific things he had done. It's hard to comprehend how someone could still have affection for a person who caused them so much pain and suffering. It really shows how complex and twisted these relationships were.
I did find myself wondering, however, why the family didn't seem more appalled or shocked by Fred's actions. It's possible that some information was left out or that they simply didn't want to acknowledge the truth, but it's still difficult to understand.
One thing that stood out to me while reading Fred and Rose was the level of research that Howard Sounes put into this book. It was clear that he had gone to great lengths to gather as much information as possible about the case and had conducted many interviews with people close to the Wests.
However, at times, I felt that the author over-described certain things. For example, there was an instance where he went into great detail explaining what an ice cream cone was. It was also apparent that he had done a lot of research into the fact that Fred West had lived at three properties with the number 25. However, his research failed to be fruitful, and it was found that this didn’t really mean much, but he still felt the need to show us that he had done this research despite it being irrelevant. While I understand the importance of providing context and setting the scene, some of these descriptions felt unnecessary.
Despite this minor critique, I still found the book to be an engrossing and informative read. Sounes' dedication to research paid off, as he was able to uncover new details and provide fresh insights into the case. It's clear that a lot of time and effort went into writing this book, which shows in the depth of information presented.
Overall, Fred and Rose is a well-researched and well-written book that sheds light on one of the most infamous criminal cases in British history. It's not for the faint of heart, but if you're interested in true crime and want to learn more about the Wests, it's definitely worth a read, though it's essential to be prepared for some graphic and disturbing content.
It has certainly whet my appetite to read more on this case and see things from different perspectives. My friend has said there is a book looking at it from the point of view that Rose is innocent, so that will make for an interesting read. I am certainly not done with this terrible travesty just yet!

Fred & Rose
by Howard Sounes
Date Started
16th March 2023
Date Finished
20th March 2023