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Killing for Company Book Review


About the Book

  • Author: Brian Master
  • First Published: 1984
  • Publisher: Arrow

About the book


  1. Origins
  2. Childhood
  3. Army
  4. Police & Civil Service
  5. Victims
  6. Disposal
  7. Remand
  8. Trial
  9. Answers

Dennis Nilson, recently highlighted in the ITV Drama, Des, is one of England's most notorious serial killers. Des was based on the book Killing For Company written by Brian Masters. First published in 1984, a year after Nilson's arrest, this book tells the story of Dennis Nilson, from his childhood and his ultimate arrest, trial and prison sentence.

Masters gets to visit Nilson in prison on various occasions and the pair often exchange letters to each other. Nilson also shared his journals with the author and it is through these personal accounts that we get to take a peek into Nilson's intricate and disturbing mind. What made him tick? What made him do the things he did? Throughout the course of this book Masters tries to deduce this and give the reader an insight in the mind of this notorious serial killer.

Over the course of 4 years Nilson killed at least 15 young men in his home. Arrested on 9th February 1983, he instantly confessed to the crimes. His murderous crimes only came to light when a plummer was called out to inspect the drains because of the smell coming from them. It was only after they found the remains of human flesh that they honed in on Denis Nilson living in the top flat. What is fascinating about this book is the fact that Nilson is upfront right from the start about his crimes, and gives a very detailed account of each crime, where his memory lets him. Now I'm not going to go into detail about his crimes. People who have heard of him will know. But what I will say is that Nilson was by no means a stupid man. He had a brief career in the Police Force, then in the army and the Civil Service. Most of the time he didn't even know he was going to kill these men until it happened. He says himself he was 'killing for company.'

Nilson readily and willing opens up to Masters, sharing his private notes and poetry with him and exchanging letters and even grisly diagrams.


My Thoughts

This is a very interesting and informative book into the whys, hows and reasons why Nilson did the things he did. It's interesting to see the sketches Nilson made of his crime and read extracts from his personal journals, letters and poems. This book was written with the full cooperation of Dennis Nilson and as I say, has since been dramatized on television.

To be honest, I think the chapter on the court case and trial was a little tedious. But saying that, this is an important aspect because it gives different accounts as to how and why he did these crimes. This book gives us a remarkable account into this man and the many lives he affected. This won't be an easy read as it gives grisly accounts of the murders and how he disposed of the remains. But it does give the reader an account of what happened from the authors perspective.

I got the Kindle edition of this book, but I found the chapters easy to read and Brian Masters explained in each chapter what took place and how the case unfolded from start to finish.

Killing For Company Book

© 2021 Louise Powles


Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 08, 2021:

I heard of Des the series but not got to watching it as yet. Your excellently written review makes me want to watch it or maybe I will get the book.

Nell Rose from England on February 07, 2021:

I watched a TV series recently with David Tennant as Denis. It was really chilling, and great viewing. Interesting, I may get the book.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 07, 2021:

This is a good review of the book and Nilsen, Louise. I had never heard of this murderer before. Thanks for sharing this information.