22 Aug 2016


THE WICKED MR HALL: THE MEMOIRS OF THE BUTLER WHO LOVED TO KILL by ROY ARCHIBALD HALL. (Click here for details on gaining permission to download the book.)

INNER FRONT COVER BLURB: "I  have been called many things - 'The Monster Butler', 'The Butler Who Served Death', 'The Ladies Man'. In truth I am none of these things. I am Roy Hall. Before I die I want to tell my story."

Growing up in Glasgow in the 1930s, Roy Archibald Hall was a natural thief. After moving down to London, Hall - who was bisexual - became a familiar figure in the capital's glitzy, underground gay scene. Due to his lucrative criminal career, he led an extravagant lifestyle. Eventually the law caught up with him and he was arrested. He spent the majority of the next two decades of his life in a cell. 

"I had always enjoyed being 'in service'. Beside living in beautiful homes that I could rob, there was also the air of class."

Upon release from prison in 1975, he returned to Scotland and found employment with Lady Margaret Hudson, working as a butler at Kirleton House. David Wright, a former lover from his time in jail, arrived on the scene and was hired as a gamekeeper. The two men fell out over the theft of a diamond ring and a vicious argument ensued. They went on a shooting trip to clear the air...it was a walk from which Wright would never return.

After the killing, Hall moved back to London where he teamed up with small-time criminal Michael Kitto. Working again as a butler, he and Kitto then murdered Hall's new employers, an aged former Labour MP and his wife. But it did not end there - by the time he was finally arrested, he had carried out two more brutal murders, including that of his own half-brother. 

Considering the nature of his crimes it was obvious that Hall would never be released. Before he died, however, he decided to set the record straight and write his memoirs. This honest, harrowing and chilling book is the result.

"No one visits me. My few close friends still look out for me in my old age, but I have no part to play in the 21st century. Only death can release me now, and I wait for it as patiently as I can."

(Spoiler Alert: To view all of the text simply scroll over the darkened portions. TT)

FIRST SENTENCE {Introduction}: My home is a top security prison twelve miles of York.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 138}: I have never lived by society's rules and when I see rules and misguided beliefs, that force a young girl to run from her home and community for the sin of making love, I'm glad that I don't. When she asked me what I did for a living, I told her that I was a businessman.

SOURCE: Ex-library stock.

MY THOUGHTS: I don't know if it was the cover or the title (or a combination of both) but for some reason I thought this was a work of fiction (I didn't have my reading glasses with me at the time of purchase so couldn't read the synopsis.) Would I have picked it up if I had realised otherwise?

The title somehow hinting that this wasn't going to be a book of any substance. Combined with the 'dripping' blood red font I was expecting a spoof. 

A read the teenage me who had a vast collection of true crime books may have enjoyed it but, then again, a book totally devoid of any psychological insights (the very thing that drew me to read the accounts of various notorious killers), maybe not.

Boastful (and totally lacking remorse) of the crimes, the murders, he had committed. His younger self (pre-murders) totally in denial that his actions had any impact on his victims.

Should I have been counting, I'm sure I would have lost count of his sexual encounters.

Then there is all the name dropping.

But I digress.

Terrible writing. Without being too blasé (after all he did kill several people), quite frankly a crime against literature. It comes to something when you are put off a book not because of the heinous crimes detailed within but rather because of the poor penmanship and egotistical rantings of its author.


Literary Feline said...

I would have expected fiction too, even with the sub-title. Based on your description of this one, I don't think it's for me.

Kelly said...

Oh wow - I think your final paragraph says it all. Not really my genre and given your review, I'll definitely pass on it.

Natasha Hill said...

Interesting as I thought this was a piece of fiction looking at the cover too and the title of the book! I'm not too keen on these biography style ones myself, but it can be interesting to get an insight into the killer's life and mind. Interesting looking book, but not my kind of thing. Great review though! Thanks for giving us a spoiler-y section to look at if we wanted to as well - I did peek! - Tasha

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Yea, not for me. Dripping blood font? Ugh. No. Just no. :P Hope your next book is good!

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

Memoirs and biographies are just not genres I enjoy, so I probably wouldn't have bought it in the first place.

But having decided to read on regardless, to then be faced with terrible writing and content management, would just about put the tin hat on the entire sad experience for me.

Perhaps using a publisher who has the claim to fame of publishing Katie Price's biography might have something to do with it.

I also see that the book was published under the title 'To Kill And Kill Again', way back in 2002, some 9 years before your re-named edition - 'if at first you don't succeed' - and all that!!

Thanks for your honest take on this one, it might save other potential readers a lot of grief :)


kimbacaffeinate said...

While I love getting inside the mind of a killer I would have avoided this one. Eep.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I find the subject kind of fascinating, but yeah, to read a book that's written SO BADLY and to also be stuck in that man's head, might not work so well for me. haha

Brian Joseph said...

This does sound awful.

I have not read much true crime. I presume that there is some good stuff out there, this book not withstanding.

The cover does look like parody.

Barbara Fisher said...

Oh no, the cover looked so promising! Not one for me, I’m afraid Tracy, but it was interesting to find out about it.

Anonymous said...

It is a book about a serial killer, what did the reviewers think it was about? How does this book compare to the other books by Roy Hall/Roy Fontaine? Or are they all the same book under different titles? https://www.amazon.com/Roy-Archibald-Hall/e/B0034NFUGE