Cover Image: My Brother the Killer

My Brother the Killer

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I’m a huge fan of true crime novels so I was intrigued by My Brother the Killer as it is from the perspective of the killer’s brother. It was certainly an interesting read which looked at a horrible event through an unusual lens. At times I did feel it went a little off-point and focused too much on the narrator as opposed to the victim and the family of the victim. However overall I found it enlightening and a compelling read.
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“What exactly makes someone a killer? Nature, nurture? Both?”


This is the true crime memoir of Stuart Campbell, his brother and the murder of Danielle Jones. Alix Sharkey writes about their lives growing up, his own feelings, and thoughts now about his these could have affected his brother if he’d only known. The tale of family secrets, abuse and deception, and how a little innocent boy can grow up to be a murderer…

This was a really interesting true crime novel. I’d never actually heard of this case before, and I wonder if that’s because I was only 4 years old when it happened. I just can’t believe I didn’t hear it in the news last year. I liked the way this was written by Alix, he would flip back between the events of Danielle’s disappearance, and their childhood, and Alix managed the switch in his writing really well. 

I love to read true crime mainly from a psychological perspective, as that’s what I’m studying at university. I like to see how crimes have affected not only the people involved, but the families too, and Alix really did show how this affected him. However, as much as I loved reading his thoughts and feeling, especially surrounding his own daughter, Fiona, finding out as well as during the trial, his life seemed to be way more inserted than his brothers. Some of which I felt was unnecessary to the background.

Overall, this was a really good piece of true crime writing, especially if you love to know about the background behind why his brother may have killed.
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A terrifying and heartbreaking story of the impact of a killer on an entire family. You can see, taste and smell everything the author describes, feeling the heartbreak and the anger at the same time
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for approving me for this arc 

I found this book a very hard read but I feel it was something that it was good that Alix has shared, I think his brother is guilty of the crime he committed and I believe his mother allowed his behaviour to continue and didn’t discipline him enough and covered up after him when she shouldn’t have.
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I love true crime but rarely end up actually enjoying true crime—far too often it fails in major ways. The author is self-congratulatory, the killer is treated as some fascinating mastermind, or the victims are exploited or treated as set dressing. 

So I was cautious going in but was pleasantly surprised to find very little of this. Rather than being about the murder, or even really about the murderer, this is more of an autobiography about the author’s relationship with his family and how the murder changed everything about his life. This is what interests me about true crime; the impact. I tore through most of this book in a couple hours and was really very impressed. 

The writing was fantastic. Sharkley is really very good at painting a portrait of people: even folks who only show up once or twice get their own description. The narrative voice is really excellent.

I will warn people that the author does discuss things that occurred involving anti-Asian hate (he is white but was often targeted due to being perceived as asian) and homophobia, both in actions and in slurs. I personally didn’t have an issue with it because it is nonfiction and he was relating things that really happened, but he is not Asian (nor as far as I know, queer) and thus I could see that being an issue.

Overall, a really excellent read and one I would suggest to anyone who, like me, is interested in the effects a crime has on the people around it.
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I haven't heard of this story before, however, I am a huge true crime fan. The content was not easy to read so I would consider checking the trigger warnings first.  It is a memoir about the author 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. 

 It is a hard-hitting read but I am glad I took the time to read it.
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This was... interesting. A very smooth read, for better or worse -- there was a certain glibness to the prose at times, which, combined with the fact that this is basically a memoir, gave me the impression that Mr. Sharkey only told as much as he felt comfortable with or able to, while there were other layers to the story that were not delved into. Which I guess is only natural, but it also underscored what I felt was a certain shallowness he cultivated in his public persona -- this is someone who is very eager to tell us about his accomplishments (Parisian condo; young girlfriend; lots of money), the parties he went to, his fantastic cool friends, there's a lot of breathless hedonism that's very 1990s. Which is fine, especially considering the precarious conditions he grew up under (power to him to make it out of there), but it feels a bit weird to hear him talk about the missing Danielle and her family in between the bits about his crazy French life and whatever else he had going on; it's not like he knew the missing girl, or her family, beyond meeting them once at a family wedding, so the whole "poor Danielle; her parents must be going through hell" bit feels a bit hollow. 
As it must, because you can't trawl the depths of that despair and write about your screwball life and your alcoholic fun-when-he's-not-beating-you dad and your lovely daughter and your funky flat in the same book, it just wouldn't work. Still, when it came to the aftermath of Danielle's presumed murder and Mr. Sharkey's main focus was on his own daughter (and her schoolmates) possibly finding out that her uncle was the main suspect, and what that might mean for Daughter's social life... I don't know. I mean, there's this girl missing, presumed dead, and he's worried that some little f*cks at school might call his daughter names? Talk about priorities.
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.

Of course we never really find out what it was like to grow up with an alleged murderer. Sharkey's brother didn't run around the house wielding knives; the boys and their sister had a less than idyllic upbringing, but it wasn't brutally hopeless either, thanks to their mum, and until puberty hit the brother seems to have been more or less okay. There's no explanation for why he turned out the way he did (while Sharkey didn't), other than the hinted-at possibility of sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher, and no warning signs of the cutting-heads-off-bunnies variety, other than the brother's callous/cruel treatment of and early predilection for young girls; which obviously wasn't enough to set off alarm bells, at least during the 1970s and 80s. So if "My Life with a Murderer!" is what you're after, this book (thankfully) won't deliver. It's more of a memoir of growing up under very particular circumstances during a time that seems very far away now. 
I enjoyed following along this guided tour of the author's funny/tragic family, but when it came to the events of 2001 I felt a bit icky too, because I was prying into something that was much more massive and unfathomable than Mr. Sharkey's stories about his charismatic dad or building a bike with his brother; it would have been different if Mr. Sharkey had succeeded in getting his jailed brother to open up, I guess, but as it is, this is a tragicomic story that points toward and then runs alongside a tragedy without a resolution, and the mixture makes me uneasy. Is it okay to enjoy this book? It's funny and touching and evokes a way of life that doesn't exist anymore, so it would be crazy not to enjoy it. On the other hand, at the end of the day, however directly or indirectly, this is a book about the murder of a 15-year-old girl, and I don't want to be the kind of person who finds entertainment in that.
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I love this authors books, unfortunately life has got in the way and I haven’t read it yet, but I’m hoping to get to this book soon my thanks for the ARC and once reviewed I will add to my personal accounts and relevant sites
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The true account of one man's struggle to come to terms with the crimes of his brother. A brother that defended him in a household fueled by alcoholic rages and abuse, yet grew up to become a sexual predator and killer. Charged with the murder of his 15 year old niece, he has refused to ever reveal where her body is.

There's a lot to unravel here. On the one hand, I admired Alix Sharkey for having the courage to write a memoir that speaks so frankly about his awful childhood and close bond with his brother, a man who he struggles to reconcile with the boy he was. We see how the two grew apart as they got older, leading one down a path to kill an innocent girl. We see Alix struggle to come to terms with this, and the opportunities he might have had to prevent what happened. The book follows a dual timeline, one with Alix reminiscing about the past with Stuart and their childhood, before often jumping forward to follow the case of Danielle, leading up to Stuart's arrest. By setting up the narrative in this way, we get a build up of suspense and tension as the net closes in on Stuart. However, I did find that at times this jumping backwards and forwards pulled me out of the story itself and I couldn't fully immerse myself in what was going on. My personal preference is just for a more linear style.

Frank and honest memoir about an extremely difficult case that still hasn't been fully resolved. The fact that Stuart is also up for parole in 2021 shows how important it is to still keep Danielle's story in the spotlight, in the hope that her family can finally get answers.
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At 8.00am on Monday 18th June 2001, Danielle Jones left home dressed in her school uniform – and promptly vanished.

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?
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This book was atrocious. I had to literally force myself through it, just so I could finish my first book of the month. I expected it to be about the authors brother, with inputs from the author about growing up with a brother who would become a convicted killer. This wasn't the case.

If the author wasn't being offensive, he was writing about things that didn't matter. He would constantly talk about how the case affected him, despite the fact that Danielle Jones lost her life and her body has never been recovered. He talked about how the trial affected him, and how he didn't know who to cry for. Himself, or Danielle?

I don't know how this man writes for a living, it's so bad. Part of the book feels like he's writing a personal autobiography then it switches to a true crime write up then it switches again to a thriller where he's beating the hell out of a guy in a strip club. Half of the things the author wrote about really didn't need to be included, and I swear he repeated a few things. Then on top of all that, he throws in this random theory that his brother killed Danielle Jones because he could have been molested by a paedophile from when he attended boarding school. Maybe he was, but it just felt like the author crammed the theory in there, and then hoped for the best.
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This was a really interesting book and I thought it was fascinating to see how he coped with his brother as a child and what warning signs there were that he would grow up to commit such a heinous crime.
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This is a fascinating book in that we don't often hear from the relatives of killers - I find it hard to imagine what it must be like to be in that position so that immediately made this an interesting read. 
There was, for me at least, just a bit too much backstory or family history. I must admit I got to the point where I was skimming over those sections. Despite that, it was a good read.
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I read my fair share of true crime but I have never heard of this case before. It into a variety of mediums I was thoroughly engaged throughout. It feels wrong to say I enjoyed myself given the nature of the book – but it really was that good!
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This case is one that has always stuck with me as Danielle was a year younger than me.  I will never ever forget the frenzied reporting and watching the case develop.  It was only a few years later that the entirety of the case hit me, the fact that Stuart Campbell never revealed where the body was.  The family have nowhere to go and grieve where they know their daughter has been laid to rest.  That alone sickens me.  Her body is out there somewhere and the one person who knows where, refuses to say.

On with the review.  I devoured this book and was unable to put it down but I found myself skipping lines of text as big chunks were written in italics and they also did not add much to the story apart from padding it out. 

The book details the life of Stuart Campbell and his brother Alex Campbell who now goes by Alix Sharkey to distance himself from his father.  The boys are brought up in a house full of terror, the father is a drunk who often abuses their mum.  Their mum eventually kicks him out and he comes a homeless drunk.  We follow how both boys grew up and apart.

The book jumps around a LOT.  It is hard to keep track of what is going on as it jumps chapter by chapter from time and place, there are 32 chapters so this is a lot of jumping.  No two chapters are from the same period of time and it gets confusing because sometimes it is 1972, then its 2000, then 2004, then 2016, then 1985 so you're never quite sure what timeframe it is, even though it says it on the top of the chapter.

This book is honest and neither brother comes out glowing, both have massive issues.  Alix himself comes across as pretentious at time, something which he recognise but it is Stuart who of course, is the danger.  The book makes links between the father and the sons, which are natural as this is where you get many of your social cues in life from.  

I can understand why Alix is so upset and annoyed with his brother, many times he was in prison for one thing but Alix was told it was for another.

What Stuart did is awful and disgusting and this book makes no bones about it at all.

A good read, although in places too heavy on detail which isn't needed and the constant time shifting is annoying.
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Firstly a big thank you to the publishers for my copy to review on netgalley.

I’m a big true crime fan and this mixed with a memoir was a fascinating harrowing yet insightful read .

Written with a mixture of diary entries , personal memories from their childhood and newspaper/Court details.

Incredibly thought provoking and a great read.

Published 22nd July
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Truly interesting; I have read true crime from the perspective of the family member of the criminal before, but rarely has it stayed with me as this did. Sharkey is unflinching, but not flogging himself. He lays the inner workings of his family and his past and himself bare - this is as much personal memoir as true crime - but it doesn’t feel like misery porn, or like the reader is being invited in to watch him undress. Neither are the details of the crime voyeuristic: we know what Sharkey knew before the trial, and not the most grisly forensic details beyond his grasp. What’s especially interesting here is the tension between past and present - his shared childhood and youth with his brother, and the present time of the trial. This stops the book feeling like a slog to get to the salient part, and the pieces of the psychological puzzle he lays out come together naturally, at pace. The cultural context Sharkey examines is excellent, too: he has an eye for the flavour and feel of the different eras he moves through, and he doesn’t pairs this with an awareness of  attitudes towards woman and consent, and the age of consent, over these decades, and how they evolved while his brother never did. The ‘present’  era of the murder and the trial, 2001/2002, is also distinct: it’s not 2021. It’s a neat trick to manage a thoughtful, raw kind of account like this without tipping over into self-indulgence, nor into self-blame or self-exculpation.
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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.

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.  

Alix and his sister both grew up to have successful careers, Stuart entered a life of criminality at a young age. Alix has written a book which tells the story of two families, his own and the Jones, in a deeply reverential way.  He doesn't hold back on his own issues and gives a unique insight into the forgotten victims of killers - their immediate family.  

Unfortunately we are no closer to learning why Stuart did what he did or why he continues to keep Danielle's location secret but I applaud Alix for trying and I hope that he is able to find peace after the events described.
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Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Which ever way you look at it this is a very sad story. Especially for Danielle and her family. 
Lots of people have difficult upbringings, but very few kill innocent children.
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This book is written by Alix Sharkey, a man who grew up with Stuart Campbell who is currently imprisoned for murder. The point of the non fiction book is to show how siblings with the same upbringing can take such different paths in life. It's quite a short read and if you know anything about the case there isn't a definitive conclusion as Campbell hasn't confessed to the murder of his 15 year old niece. Alix has tried to distance himself from his brother but they did have some kind of relationship and Alix discusses his suspicions about his brother throughout. It's a bit of a bleak read.
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