Review of THE GATES OF JANUS by Ian Brady


Ian Brady

Feral House

You are reading this review in CrimeSpree Magazine, which means I’m into crime. I find crime fascinating. However, my wheelhouse is Organized Crime.

Serial killers were never a thing I found myself drawn to in the past. When it comes to killing, there are things I understand and things I don’t. When I read something like, “Ralphie was shot 2x in the head and was left in the trunk of a car. The boss ordered it because Ralphie was skimming drug profits,” – that I understand. It’s business. When it comes to torture there are things I understand and things I don’t. When I read something like, “Paulie had his kneecaps broken with a baseball bat. The boss ordered it because Paulie was late paying a gambling debt.” That I understand. It’s business.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the things I don’t understand. Like killing for pleasure. Torturing for pleasure. Any kind of sexual crime. This is the territory of Serial Killers and other assorted psychopaths/sociopaths.

I had to lay that all out so I could show you how I went into this book, THE GATES OF JANUS by Ian Brady.

In early 1960s England, Ian Brady and his significant other, Myra Hindley, got together and did some vile shit. They

raped and murdered children.

Sonic_Youth_GooYeah…. What do you say to that?

Better yet, what drew me to reading this psychologically heavy book? Short answer is, I wanted to get outside my comfort zone. I wanted to take a shot at maybe understanding just a little bit of something that I have never been able to wrap my head around.

Maybe it was cause Brady and Hindley were called The Moors Murderers for the area of England where they operated and buried bodies. Maybe is was the Sonic Youth album cover for Goo, which is a Raymond Pettibon drawing of 2 people who testified against Bradley and Hindley. I think it was the black and white mugshots of Brady and Hindley looking like 2 members of a proto punk band.

Regardless, I was drawn to this book.

Did I get there? I don’t know yet. I did learn somethings. I also have more questions.

The book is broken down into 2 sections. The first section is Brady’s philosophy. Reading this was like walking into a room with Brady and having the door locked behind you. You can’t leave. You are essentially listening to him think out loud. This was absolutely fascinating. Yes, confusing at times and terrifying at others. I’m still assessing my perception of Brady. His views of society you need to read for yourself and make your own call. He paints a bleak landscape of humanity. His concept of serial killers and criminals in general and in relation to normal people is something I’m still trying to grasp. In broad strokes, Brady believes that most of humanity are hypocrites and if they had the balls everyone would be a serial killer or criminal….

Tell me what the fuck do you say to that?

The second half of the book is Brady giving you his perspective on other serial killers throughout history from Ted Bundy to Carl Panzram to Henry Lee Lucas. This section of the book I loved. I know very little about serial killers so why not have a serial killer take you…..

Yeah I know but ifor lifet seemed like a good idea at the time.

My logic is known to be flawed from time to time.

So Brady has been in prison since 1965-66 and is currently Britian’s longest serving prisoner. Hindley died in prison in 2002. This book was first released to much controversy in 2001. Feral House (the best in non-fiction books) got a hold of it and released it in 2015 in an expanded edition. It’s updated and gives you context with a new forward and afterward.

I’m really happy I came across this book. I know I’ll be reading it again and again after that. This is not something you can read once. It’s a investment of time and energy and it’s not for everyone. As far as this review goes, trying to summarize the thoughts of serial killer into a roughly 500 word review just wasn’t going to happen. It’s like trying to hold water in your hands.

Dave Wahlman