London Underground Serial Killer: The Life Of Kieran Kelly, by Geoff Platt
Readers of this book like myself who read this book without reading the first book of the author on this subject are at a bit of a disadvantage. Sometimes, as is the case here, an author finds himself such a profitable subject to write about and to establish himself as an expert in that he writes first one book to general success and then expands this work in further and later works. What one has in this book is an expansion of the previous book that the author had written about the life of Kieran Kelly that does not include what the author had written before (at least he so claims) but rather seeks to expand upon that material. The result is a work that is somewhat scattered and that contains some notable assumptions and struggles with what in fact is true and what is not relating to his subject of Kieran Kelly as well as the issue of who counts as a British serial killer at all. The reader is quite possibly not going to agree with the assumptions of the author that it requires conviction for five or more murders in order for someone to count as a serial killer. For me, at least, it is only necessary that someone be responsible for a certain number of deaths spaced by a certain amount of time, even if that is only known by God.
This book is a short one at about 150 pages or so. It begins with an introduction. After that come a variety of short chapters that appear to skip around about various aspects of the life and bad behavior of its subject. For example, the first two chapters cover the subject’s early years in and around Dublin from 1930 to 1960 where the subject was born into a laboring family with history in serving in the British army and married unsuccessfully as well as the middle portion of the subject’s life between 1960 and 1983 where the subject married again unsuccessfully and spent a great deal of time moving in and out of prison. This is followed by chapters on Kelly’s first murder, last murder, and some of the other murders in between. After this set of chapters comes another set of chapters that are related, including the police response, the trial, as well as prison life, which was not easy for the murderer. The main part of the book then ends with a look at the victims and consequences of Kelly’s murders as well as the re-investigation of the murders and what we can learn from the book’s subject. There re then two appendices that discuss the court of appeals case (i) as well as a list of alleged British serial killers and the author’s discussion of their lives and behavior (ii), after which there are references and an epilogue.
This book in many ways is a sobering and unpleasant book that discusses how it is that a particular serial killer operated. The author speculates on matters of the influence of the author’s sexuality on his killings as well as the way that he apparently targeted several different groups of people and went about killing them in different ways, proving himself to be a serial killer of vagrant homosexuals whom he killed in humiliating and painful ways, killing other vagrants through poisoning and killing still other people through pushing them under trains, all of which amounts to a complicated picture of a complicated man whose ability to escape justice for so many years reflects badly on those responsible for investigating crimes relating to the vagrant community as well as the London Underground. If the subject found himself in jail for most of his adult life, he appears to have killed at a rather enormous rate in those few times when he was out of jail as a member of the homeless criminal class engaged in frequent acts of thievery and violence. If this is not a community that I find myself very familiar with, it is certainly a community that finds itself rather vulnerable to serial killers given the peripheral nature of the vagrant with the attention and focus of authorities. It is all too easy for people to get away, at least for a while, while focusing on those who are on the outskirts of humanity and civilization.