tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > The Beast of Jersey

The Beast of Jersey by Joan Paisnel
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bookshelves: crime
Recommended for: psychologists

1st, my personal library is organized according to fairly conventional categories - easy ways of remembering where I've put bks. Subjects like "literature" & "crime". But such pre-existing categories don't really do the most interesting bks justice. E.G.: I have most or all of Timothy Leary's bks under "drugs" b/c Leary's so heavily associated w/ LSD - but there's more to Leary than just his use of drugs. He cd just as easily, & perhaps more appropriately, be categorized under "philosophy".

This bk, "The Beast of Jersey", that I'm reviewing here is the 1st of the bks I'm listing under "crime". But, of course, "crime", like everything else, is in the mind of the beholder. In my opinion, all political figures & ultra-rich people are the main criminals in this world but they're not often enuf categorized in that way conventionally. From the perspective of the 'criminal', their crimes might be something else indeed. As for "The Beast"? This bk was written by his wife - who claimed that she didn't know what he was doing. I'd like to know what HE thought he was doing.

Ok, I read this 20 yrs ago, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of my memory of it. What I do vaguely recall is the story of a man w/ a hidden rm in his house for practicing 'Black Magic' (How cd his wife have not noticed this?!), a man who dressed like a scarecrow & who went out at night & sexually assaulted & sometimes killed(? Actually, I don't remember whether he killed anyone, I think he might not've) women & the children of people that he wanted to get revenge on. Or something like that. A man who got away w/ this for 11 yrs & eventually got convicted to 30 yrs in prison. Hardly an ordinary tale - even for true crime stories.

The author, his wife, claims that "The Beast", Ted Paisnel, played the part of a concerned father when it was public knowledge that "The Beast" was at large but NOT public knowledge that it was Paisnel himself. SO, he'd be very protective of their children, worrying to his wife if their daughter didn't come home on time - that sort of thing. Assuming that the disingenuity here is NOT on the part of his wife & that her telling is the 'truth', Paisnel was, indeed, a twisted character, a true Jekyll & Hyde.

Joan Paisnel wrote: "For thirteen years I was married to and lived alongside a man who, unknown to me, not only practiced the Black Arts but created a reign of terror in the lovely island where I live with a series of the most terrible assaults and sex crimes on women and little children, both boys and girls. A man who came increasingly to identify himself and his actions with one of the most infamous mass-murderers in history, Gilles de Rais".

Whoever this guy was & whatever was going on in his head, he was no simple man. Joan Paisnel's telling of the story portrays someone w/ a labyrinthian & incredibly devious mind - a pathological liar. Even thinking about him from this distance disturbs me b/c I have such a strong motivation to organize info about the world into some form of 'truth' at the same time that I don't exactly believe in 'truth'. Ted Paisnel is someone who'll probably evade such attempts at clarification for eternity.
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