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Synopsis

True crime at its most potent: a riveting account of tracking down and convicting an evil serial killer by the detective who trapped him. "In the duel between a small-town cop and France's most dangerous serial killer, the advantage appeared heavily in favour of Francis Heaulme, the criminal known as the 'man from nowhere', who may have killed more than to 50 men, women and children. "Heaulme left few ordinary clues during a career of crime spread across the country. Faced with a master of ingenious alibis and innate resistance to interrogation, all his gendarmerie opponent could count on was instinct. This psychological hunt for a killer has echoes of Dostoevsky. "Heaulme never spoke murders. He referred to pepins - bothersome details, before noting days when pepins coincided with killings he had supposedly witnessed. He gave the impression he was an accidental observer of events in which women were beaten to death or children repeatedly stabbed. He had no criminal record and was scrupulous in living in the law. While he is thought to have been involved at least 50 murders, Heaulme once said that 'every time I visited somewhere there was a pepin.' So far 400 towns and villages have been identified where Heaulme stayed." Paul Webster in the Observer, reviewing the French edition This is the best, clearest, most decisive account of the work of a detective possible. It shows how deadly criminals can only be caught by a combination of luck, patience - and most important of all skill and determination. It is frightening stuff.

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