Picking Up The Pieces by Paul Britton.

Paul Britton is now retired. But at one point he was the UK’s leading clinical consultant and forensic psychologist, assisting the police on various crimes over the years, including that of serial killers Fred and Rose West.

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This is the second book by Paul Britton and I have to say if this one was anything to go by, then I’d love to read his first one. It helps that Paul Britton is a natural storyteller and as well as giving you the facts (which you get in plenty of in depth abundance) he’s kind enough to explain the people, the surroundings and the feelings. Each chapter focuses on one or two cases he has dealt with as his time as psychologist and uses dialogue from sessions he has had with some of his patients.

Please be warned if you’re easily put off or have a weak stomach for some of the more horrific and real things that go on in the world around us, you may find this book difficult to read. Paul details crimes he has assisted on which range from sexual assault to murder. These cases are quite graphic to read about and some of it didn’t sit too well with me, but what was incredibly interesting was the way in which Paul seemed to look at the smaller details within a crime and ask questions, not only about the victim but the person committing the atrocity. This enabled him to construct a detailed profile of the type of person who would be responsible and from there the police could narrow down their focus to ensure they were looking for the right people and in the right places.

It’s no wonder that Paul Britton was the top of his game during his career, as when he discusses some of the cases he’s worked on, if it hadn’t have been for his insight and knowledge then the chances are there would have been more victims. But the thing I found more interesting about the book, were the sections where Paul gave detailed descriptions of this meetings with people who had been referred to him or sought out his help. In these moments you read about a wide range of people who suffer from sexually violent fantasies, lycanthropy and outbursts of violence. The techniques and questions Paul used to help these people, enabled me to see things from both sides and try to understand what can make a seemingly normal person wake up one day and suddenly start to act violently.

This is a great book that explains some of the methodology and techniques used not only in forensic profiling but also in rehabilitating those who have committed crimes and preventing those who could go on to do so. The only thing I didn’t like about this book, was there’s constant reference to certain patients of Pauls that you don’t hear much from again, Ray Knoxx being one of them, I would have liked to known what happened to him. I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy real life crime or those would like to study psychology or forensic psychology.

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