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Dennis Nilsen, or the Pot of Basil

John Ryle, 21 February 1985

Killing for Company: The Case of Dennis Nilsen 
by Brian Masters.
Cape, 352 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 224 02184 2
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Queens 
by Pickles.
Quartet, 289 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7043 2439 3
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Ritualised Homosexuality in Melanesia 
edited by Gilbert Herdt.
California, 409 pp., £19.95, October 1984, 0 520 05037 1
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... Murderers are frequently reported by acquaintances to be civil, diligent, pleasant in manner, if a little reserved, normal in appearance, cultivated to a degree, kind to animals and, with certain fatal exceptions, to their fellow human beings. If such characteristics were grounds for suspicion, Dennis Nilsen, who strangled and dismembered 14 or 15 youths in North London over a period of five years, would have been rounded up with the rest of us ...

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