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Summary

Both gripping police procedural and an insight into the motivations of a truly evil man, Babes in the Wood by Graham Bartlett with Peter James is a fascinating account of what became a thirty-two year fight for justice. 

On 9 October 1986, nine-year-olds Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway went out to play on their Brighton estate. They would never return home, their bodies discovered the next day concealed in a small clearing in a local park. This devastating crime rocked their close-knit community and the whole country. 

Following the investigation moment by moment, drawing on exclusive interviews with officers charged with catching the killer, former senior detective Graham Bartlett and best-selling author Peter James tell the compelling inside story of the murder hunt and the arrest of local man Russell Bishop. The trial that followed was one of the most infamous in the history of Brighton policing - a shock result sees Bishop walk free. ‘Not guilty.’ 

Three years later, Graham is working as a junior detective in Brighton CID. A seven-year-old girl is kidnapped and found wandering naked on the freezing South Downs. When Bishop’s name comes up as a suspect, it’s clear history had come close to repeating itself. With the law and science against them, the police are frustrated that, still, he would escape justice for the double murder. 

Decades later detectives are handed a surprise second chance. Can Bishop finally be made to answer for his horrendous crimes?

©2020 Graham Bartlett (P)2020 Macmillan Publishers International Ltd

What listeners say about Babes in the Wood

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Exceptionally put together

This is mind blowingly written which will grip your attention to the end, excellent book

4 people found this helpful

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Compulsive reading/listening

I never normally write reviews but I was completely gripped by this book.

I moved to Brighton just after the terrible events unfolded and subsequently met a police officer who had worked on Nicola and Karen’s case. He always said that they knew who’d murdered the girls and weren’t looking for anybody else. It was just a question of proving it.

This book tells their story perfectly and also the story of the very brave, intelligent ‘Clare’ who still lives with her terrible ordeal.



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Tragic and disburting story

It was okay to listen to. I wasn't massively gripped for some reason, not sure why.

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great

I am from Brighton and I remember this all unfolding I was only 12 at the time but this really has left an imprint on the place.
A great book detailing a lot of things that the public never really knew.

1 person found this helpful

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Babes in the Wood

Wow what a fascinating and in-depth In-sight to this very harrowing crime. Written with such compassion. So informative. So many facts I never knew about. Brilliant

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No words

After this finished, I cried. Such a nightmare that by the grace of whatever, we are spared. And then to be accused of killing your own daughter. It also made me very thankful that those people that work to bring scum to trial and are faced with the worst of humanity every day. I could not do that job.

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A superb description of pure evil....

This book is very good - it takes a little bit of time to get going with some slightly cliched and unnecessary detail. However once momentum has been built then it is fast paced and keeps you listening. One tiny tiny issue is the author comes across as being a bit lefty with his observations about cuts to public spending....

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A shocking true story

I found this story grippingly horrifying. Justice for the killing of those two little girls took over 30 years of plodding through the slow wheels of the British justice system, whilst the killer went free. But Bishop was later caught for abducting, attacking and sexually assaulting another little girl, leaving her for dead. Amazingly, she lived and managed to get to safety and recount her experience in great detail for her tender years. It was her incredibly detailed account which helped to convict Bishop for the murders of the girls. The parents of those murdered girls must have lead a torturous life knowing their brutal end and missing them growing up at the same time knowing the killer walked free! At least they have some closure now. I was particularly interested in this story because I knew Bishop’s mother. I can’t imagine what she must be going through either. What makes a person sexually deviant and a killer of children? It’s not upbringing because Bishop’s siblings are not this way. It’s a tragic story for all sides, two little girls who lost their lives, another girl who was left for dead, parents of the children murdered who have lost their children far too soon, the parents of the assaulted girl who have been left to pick up the pieces, a mother and father of a convicted child molester/murderer who must feel a deep grief for what their son did and a convicted child molester/murderer who couldn’t or didn’t want to control his feelings/actions and who knew they were wrong. All very sad. Bishop is dead now. I wonder if he ever regretted what he became and what he did?

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Excellent, gripping, compulsive

This excellent, gripping, compulsive book draws you in immediately from there until the end

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  • 12-02-22

A community tragedy

Excellent storytelling of the events that haunted Brighton residents for decades. The police narrative really gets you invested in seeing justice sought - even if it happens 30+ years later. This case benefited from legislative changes that occured much later and thank God they did. At times the details were very disturbing but nothing explicit so it may be suitable depending on your mindset while listening. Great narration as well, I would seek out both the audio narrator and the authors again.