We’re working on a new Theodore Dalrymple book (here’s a link to Amazon Kindle editions of some of his others for those who haven’t followed his work).
It is provisionally entitled Murderers I Have Known (or possibly Murderers of My Acquaintance), and it deals with some of the killers with whom Dalrymple dealt during his many years as a prison psychiatrist and doctor.
These included the infamous Fred West, though the author’s interest is much more in the quotidian nature of your common or garden stabber/bludgeoner.
It will be published after his impending retirement from medico-legal work (he has worked for a long time as an expert witness is murder trials).
More details as and when, but here’s a brief excerpt from the foreword:
Everyone is interested in murder: I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who wasn’t. Bertrand Russell, even at his most pacifist, read one detective novel a day, and he was far from unique in his taste. Perhaps I am deluding myself, but whenever I spoke of a murderer whom I had just met my interlocutor’s eyes never glazed over as they sometimes did (and do) when I spoke (or speak) of other subjects such as politics, philosophy or the wonderful exploits of my dog.
Now that I have retired from medico-legal practice the moment has come, perhaps, for me to reflect upon the meaning and significance of all that I heard or otherwise witnessed in my mildly undistinguished career.
Actually my retirement was not entirely voluntary, in the sense that I declined any longer to jump through the hoops that the bureaucracy now places in the path of doctors who wish to continue to practise. These hoops have little to do with professional competence and everything to do with letting doctors know who is boss; for there is no finer way of controlling highly intelligent people than by making them perform many tasks they know to be pointless but which they nevertheless perform for the sake of a quiet life. Thus the manager’s dream of a world peopled by cringing, creeping time-servers is in the process of formation; the younger generation, which has grown up accepting pointless bureaucratic procedures as a natural and inescapable part of life, has been emasculated without even knowing that anything has been done to it.
I retired, then, at the height of my powers, such as they were and are; it is a long time since a judge or a jury did not accept my view of a case in contradistinction to that of the experts called by the other side. Of course, the expert is supposed to be helping the court rather advocating for one side or the other; he testifies for truth, not victory. But human beings would not be human beings if they did not wish for triumph or at least for vindication by others.
It is better, however, even if somewhat painful, to retire at the height of your powers than wait for them to decline to the point at which you are told humiliatingly that you are no longer up to it. To go out in a blaze, or at least a candlelight, of glory is better than leaving people to shake their heads sadly behind you because you are but a shadow of your former self. It is notorious that those who let decline set in before they retire do not live long, perhaps because they have little else than their work to live for.
Dalrymple seems to prefer murderers to denizens of the accursed box:
In my experience, TV people are as lying, insincere, obsequious, unscrupulous, fickle, exploitative, shallow, cynical, untrustworthy, treacherous, dishonest, mercenary, low, and untruthful a group of people as is to be found on the face of this Earth.