Beyond All Evil by Marion Scott and Jim McBeth is a book that really took me by surprise as I knew nothing about it. It was harrowing and I’m not entirely sure why these cases completely slipped under my radar, except that UK true crime books are not usually the first on the eBook shelf that pique my interest.
The book is about two women in the UK, Giselle and June who on the same day in nearby towns lost their children at the hands of their husbands. Giselle had only her two young sons, Paul and Jay-Jay that were killed by their father Ash and June lost her youngest two children, Michelle (a young woman with special needs) and Ryan when they were murdered by their father Rab.
The book runs the two stories parallel and although the marriages and the father/child dynamics are quite different, both women (and to some extent, the children) suffer tragic domestic violence at the hands of their husbands. Probably one of the most interesting parts of the book is the similarities and the contrasts in all of the relationships.
While June is controlled by Rab in a systematic cycle of physical abuse, Giselle was isolated in sinister ways by her husband Ash. The stories are different, but so similar and both women do their best to explain their situations, their different upbringings and answer the usual “why didn’t you just leave?” questions.
Ian Stephen provides small snippets of criminal psychology throughout the book, as well as writes an afterword explaining the psychology of ‘family annihilators’ and discusses the dire situation that is becoming shockingly, more common in some Western countries.
The book didn’t grab me straight away but it wasn’t long until I was staying up far too late to read this sad story. I do wish the book had included details of how June and Giselle came to get to know each other after their tragedies, as it is just their individual stories blended together so that the timelines match quite perfectly, but if you don’t mind a sad true crime story it’s well worth a read and spreading the story of these two mothers that were connected by awful situation and share their pain, grief and small joys with brutal honesty.