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My Brother the Killer: A Family Story

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True crime usually tells the story from the point of view of the victim or the perpetrator - this book comes from a different angle. Alix Sharkey, is Stuart Campbells brother. In this book, which covers a dual time line, the events of Danielle's disappearance and subsequent investigation and Stuart's childhood in an attempt to find out what makes a killer. This book simultaneously reaches into the past in two different time periods, one counting the time since Danielle's disappearance and secondly to their earliest days as brothers and both timelines shine through with an honesty that took my breath away. Of course, this isn't ever a book you could say you enjoyed, purely for the nature of the crime, but it was a captivating read which was well written. I was particularly interested in the forthcoming parole hearing due at the end of this year, especially with 'Helen's Law's now in force, meaning cases where the location of a body is never disclosed a parole review is likely to be denied - no body, no parole. The author has done really well to not make the book all about himself or his brother, voicing his concerns on many occasions throughout the book of the anguish and upset Danielle's family are still going through.

Alix and Stuart are brothers, there are just 14 months between them. In this book, Alix Sharkey examines the brothers' history, and what had been an unhappy, violent childhood. They both had the same start, but one brother would go on to commit crimes, culminating in one so terrible, and it would be within his own family. The 15-year old’s body was never recovered, but Danielle’s parents soon learned that her ‘Uncle Stuart’, a close family friend, had concealed a decades-long history of sexual violence against teenage girls. Despite the absence of a body, Stuart Campbell was sentenced to life in prison for Danielle’s abduction and murder. But what set him on his path as a violent sexual predator? And how do you come to terms with his actions if he’s your own flesh and blood? Never heard of this crime story before, although it was much in the news (in the U.K.). Not an easy book to read because of the content, but it does have a coherent flow. The brother in the title is somewhat of a mystery, an enigma, so the book is really about the family. Essentially it is a memoir about the author and growing up in a rough neighbourhood outside London, with an alcoholic father, and then later dealing with the revelation that his brother has been accused of abducting and killing a 15 year old girl (and to make the story even worse, the accused is the girl's uncle).

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Funny enough this is a hard review to write. I remember reading about Danielle Jones going missing in the papers and seeing it on the news, recently I heard it again recently on a podcast. I can't begin to imagine how the families have coped over the past 2 decades, Each time it resurfaces in the media or as in this case a new book it must feel like a plaster being ripped off for both families.. This is a case that I didn't think I knew, until I searched up the crime online, and I remember it being such a high profile case. May be spoilers. One particularly upsetting element for everyone involved is that the girl's body has never been located. The convicted killer refuses to help. Understandably, this is an ongoing open wound for all the families touched by this tragedy. As I began reading this book, I tried to recollect the circumstances around Danielle's disappearance, but it wasn't until I googled her and saw her picture that I remembered her from all those years before. The murder of Danielle is a very sad story, not just because of her age and the fact that her body has never been found, but also because Stuart Campbell was her uncle, someone who she should have been able to trust.

My brother, the killer is an interesting, first hand account into the life of child-killer Stuart Campbell. It’s written by Alix Sharpley, his elder brother, and describes in great detail events such as their childhood and the murder charge itself. In 2001, 15 year old Danielle Jones vanished on her way to school. In 2002, Stuart Campbell, Danielle's uncle, was convicted of her murder. Her body has never been found. At 8.00am on Monday 18th June 2001, Danielle Jones left home dressed in her school uniform – and promptly vanished. Alix Sharkey tells us about growing up as a child in the 70's, it was rife with bigotry and racism., life with a brother who was "normal" whatever that is until puberty. had issues and an unhealthy, but unknown predilection for young girls, not to mention an abusive, alcoholic dad and how his mother mum enabled both the father and the brothers behaviour. At some point his mum finally threw her husband out, who then went on to become a hapless drunk.There was a moment of foreshadowing in the text that never seems to have been pursued. When the brother went to another school, the writer was jealous and destroyed his brother's electronic calculator (a new device at the time). Even though the writer was beaten by his mother, he never confessed and refused to admit his guilt because then he would have had to apologize. When I read this I thought, well, that is the same pattern as the killer years later — he will never admit his crime, will never apologize. The writer did not seem to have made this connection, how his own behaviour as a boy so strongly evokes his brother's actions years later.

Especially since he's not even around -- his daughter lives hundreds of miles away in another country, and Mr. Sharkey is basically Fun Dad who pops over every now and then. The Danielle chapters IMO had a bit of "me me me" to them ("OMG that was MY brother, what does that mean for ME, what if the press find out that he's related to ME, what do I do now", etc. etc.), and Daughter seemed to function almost as an extension of the author.In this remarkable memoir, a harrowing true story of family, violence, guilt and atonement, a journalist reflects on his own journey to come to terms with his brother’s terrible crimes—and to find justice for the young girl he killed.

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