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.