Cannibal Killers: The Impossible Monsters (1993)

Cannibal Killers: The Impossible Monsters (1993)

There were cannibals in the newspapers, there were cannibals on the silver screen and horror fiction was taking a decidedly anthropophagic turn at the beginning of the 1990s.

The Silence of the Lambs was breaking box office records and becoming part of the cultural consciousness, while outside the cinema, reality kept pace with fiction.

The arrest and trial of Jeffrey Dahmer from Milwaukee, USA, guilty of drugging, killing and consuming the flesh of a large number of young men, created shockwaves throughout the “civilised” Western world.

But more horror was ahead. The “Rostov Ripper” - Andre Chikatilo, undetected for decades - had been apprehended by Russian police for randomly killing, torturing and cannibalising a record 55 men, women and children.

“Why?” people were asking, repelled yet fascinated by such primitive savagery. 

The twisted motivation behind crimes of passion, killing for personal gain, revenge - and even sexually-motivated murder - in an objective, dispassionate way, many of us are able to comprehend what might lie behind such crimes. 

But hunting down, slaughtering and eating a helpless victim? That action just doesn't fall within anyone's remit of comprehension. What could possibly make someone do such a terrible, terrible thing?

I set out to try and answer that question in Cannibal Killers: The Impossible Monsters.  Since its first publication in 1993, it has been published worldwide in a variety of imprints and languages and is used as a research tool by university Criminology students.

Sales figures? One can only guess, but they're quite high. One US paperback edition sold almost 90,000 copies alone.  From 2014 an e-book edition will also be available.

Top Tip

Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare, 1781

Telling people that you wrote a book about cannibalistic murderers is a great conversation-stopper at pretentious gatherings. Particularly during a meat course.

Sometimes people don’t ask “Why do they do it?” but “Why did you do it?”  They mean why do I so often choose to write about the hideous and unacceptable underbelly of humanity?

In my turn, it amazes me that anyone has to ask.  Isn’t studying those who deviate from the norm what makes the human psyche so interesting?

Abnormal behaviour and clinical issues held particular fascination when I did my psychology  degree – and, of course, Gothic  literature became my thing as well.

Freud’s view that there are two opposing drives Eros and Thanatos – fighting for supremacy within each individual is central to his psychoanalytical theory, to the Gothic, and to much other literature besides.

As W.B. Yeats was said to have remarked: Sex and death. The only things worth writing about.

Niggles about Plagiarism

This image ironically copied from

Niggle 1

Channel 4 Television spent a day with me many years ago as part of their research for a documentary series they were making about cannibalism. They arrived armed with a grubby, well-used copy of my book. It had become, said the researcher, the office handbook, a guiding light for their film.

That certainly was true: watching the episode about cannibalistic killers was akin to hearing my book read aloud for an hour. But having shamelessly plagiarised it for free, the film-makers didn’t even bother acknowledging the book in their credits, nor in the paperback which they published to accompany the series. How can they do that without feeling guilty, I wonder?

Niggle 2 

Since I wrote this book there have been numerous others covering the same ground and using much of the material I had researched. A couple are even called Cannibal Killers

Well, I know that imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery – but aren’t writers supposed to be creative? You’d imagine they could think up an original title of their own, wouldn’t you?

Purchase Cannibal Killers direct from the author

If you would like a paperback copy of the original Cannibal Killers: The Impossible Monsters at a discounted price of £7.99,  or a signed copy at £9.99, please contact me on*   

*Postage of £2 not included.

A brand-new and updated e-book version of Cannibal Killers will be out in 2014, available from all the usual on-line locations – Amazon, Kobe, etc.

I will post a link when this is available.