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“An inexorable accretion of detail, maintaining a firm grip on the reader's attention... a cool, uninflected narrative that allows the facts to speak for themselves to chilling effect... the customary banality of evil, but also the fashion in which that evil can flourish in a totalitarian state. It is a chilling and salutary read.”
writer and journalist - British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia
“An almost perfect reconstruction... a huge effort of research which reconstitutes the destiny of a murderer framed in his multiple contexts – domestic, social and historical... exceptionally well conceived and very well written!”
writer and journalist - editor of Timpul, Romania’s leading arts magazine
“Rimaru: The Butcher of Bucharest is a fascinating read, full of detail, that frames a factual account of the crimes within their social environment, while examining their impact on the culture, and their lingering legacy in the present day.”
review for Enfield INDEPENDENT
“The story is told chronologically and in an unpretentious style that soon convinces us that the narrators are reliable and level headed ... ‘Rîmaru’ uses the accounts of victims to advance the story ... [which] not only adds to the authenticity of the book but also gives it a sensible perspective. For once, the victims are more important than the destructive killer.”
review for CrimeChronicles.co.uk
“Together with Romanian historian and political scientist Stejarel Olaru, who is a respected authority on Romanian intelligence and security services, Mike has written Rîmaru, Butcher of Bucharest, a detailed reconstruction of the sensational crimes of Ion Rîmaru (murder and multiple rapes with allegations of cannibalism and vampirism), who terrorised Bucharest in 1971 before being caught, tried and executed by a seemingly disorganised but eventually efficient firing squad.”
review for “Getting Away With Murder” column in Shots Magazine
“A fascinating insight into Romania in the 1960s and early 1970s [...] It kept my interest throughout. A good read.”
review for TrueCrimeReader.com
“This is an excellent quality book from an excellent publishing house, well researched, and well produced, it is a gripping read from start to finish, highly recommended volume and a must read for all true crime readers.”
“... a well documented tale of not only the killer [Ion Rimaru], his family, and the victims, it also serves as a condemnation of the aftereffects of years of communist rule [...] Rimaru - Butcher of Bucharest is a fine glimpse into the mind of a notorious serial killer and an intriguing read. It’s great to see an Eastern European publisher of crime make it here. Definitely recommended reading...”
author and blogger, review on Temporary Knucksline
“Rimaru – Butcher of Bucharest is an excellently written and an excellently devised book. It is not only a step towards promoting the Romanian crime genre in a broad sense; but it represents (and this in the first place maybe) a valuable historical document, well assembled, a model of how to collect scientific research and present its results in an attractive manner.”
George Arion Jr.
review for Flacara Magazine
“Rimaru: The Butcher of Bucharest is perhaps the first book available in English to confirm that the myth to which some people still cling to – that socialist Romania was a country free of crime – is an illusion. [The book is] impeccably documented […] It also offers a fascinating look at how the communist regime dealt with this kind of crime.”
editor-in-chief of In Your Pocket city guides, writing on BucharestLife.net
“... a book which is an exemplary reconstruction of a famous criminal case from the communist days. The authors, Mike Phillips, who is also co-director of the publishing house, and the Romanian historian Stejarel Olaru, succeeded in producing a reality novel which you read with bated breath, more so, indeed, than when you read the most frenzied piece of fiction. (...) What seems important to me is the fact that the authors did not count on sensationalism – although the case was sensational – and placed the shadowy story of Ion Rimaru in its multiple contexts, family-based, historical, socio-political - the “portrait” of the murderer being masterfully located against the background of a world, Romania during eighth decade of the last century. And, last but not least, the book is excellently written. The authors deserve all praise for their remarkable endeavour, as does the publishing house.”
review for "Timpul" magazine, Sept 2012
“Desiring to bring to Britain a never-before-seen glimpse of Romania, Profusion Publishers, launched a series of Romanian crime novels with a difference last year: novels that certainly thrill, but also books which can show the audience the reality of a country which used to be behind the Iron Curtain but now emerges as a vibrant European partner after a bloody revolution and a long transition to a market-economy.”
Arts/Books blog of ForeignersinUK.co.uk
“Rimaru - Butcher of Bucharest makes for a very good read, even if a chilling and rather unsettling one, because the authors have shunned sensationalism in favour of objectivity.”
review on Think Books blog
In September 1971 Ion Rîmaru stood trial for the murder of several women. The indictment accused him of committing 23 very serious offences over a period of one year from May 1970 to May 1971: murders committed in extremely aggravated circumstances, with cruelty, with premeditation, with bestiality and sadism in four cases; attempted murders in six cases; rapes and attempted rapes; theft from the public and private property.
‘Rîmaru - Butcher of Bucharest’ is a factual account of the crimes committed by Ion Rîmaru, their social environment, their impact on the culture of their times, and their lingering legacy in the present day. Popular myth, for instance, enshrines the legend that Rimaru had the qualities of a vampire - a hypnotic attraction for young women - the source of his ability to evade capture.
The authors, Mike Phillips and Stejărel Olaru, have had unprecedented access to police and secret police records, including the testimonies of the killer and his family. They also conducted interviews with various protagonists, and researched the surviving mountain of statements.
The social context, however, and what it tells us about Romanian society at the time and in the present day makes this a remarkable, uneasy and illuminating story.
“May 1971. I approached a woman and I attacked her with a metal rod and a knife. I hit her with the metal rod with spiral grooves. I hit her some three times. Because she was screaming I slashed her neck with the knife that is presented to me here in the court. The victim collapsed in the street and then I dragged her into a courtyard and had sexual relations with her.” (Ion Rîmaru - statement to the police after arrest)
Dr Mike Phillips OBE FRSL, FRSA
Mike Phillips was educated at the University of London (English), the University of Essex (politics), and at Goldsmiths College London (education). He worked for the BBC as a journalist and broadcaster between 1972 and 1983 before becoming a lecturer in media studies at the University of Westminster. Subsequently, he worked as Cross Cultural Curator at the Tate Galleries in Britain, and then as Acting Director of Arts in Tilburg in the Netherlands.
He was awarded the Arts Foundation Fellowship in 1996 for crime fiction, and the OBE in 2006 for services to broadcasting. He served as a Trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, but he is best known for his crime fiction, including four novels featuring black journalist Sam Dean: Blood Rights (1989), which was adapted for BBC television, The Late Candidate (1990), winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger Award, Point of Darkness (1994) and An Image to Die For (1995). The Dancing Face (1998) is a thriller centred on a priceless Benin mask. A Shadow of Myself (2000) is about a black documentary filmmaker working in Prague and a man who claims to be his brother. The Name You Once Gave Me (2006) was written as part of a government backed literacy campaign.
Mike Phillips also co-wrote Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain (1998) to accompany a BBC television series telling the story of the Caribbean migrant workers who settled in post-war Britain. London Crossings: A Biography of Black Britain (2001), is a series of interlinked essays and stories, a portrait of the city seen from locations as diverse as New York and Nairobi, London and Lodz, Washington and Warsaw. Currently, he writes librettos for the compositions of his music partner Julian Joseph.
Stejărel Olaru was born on 30 January 1973, graduated from the Faculty of Theology of the University of Bucharest in 2000 and achieved his Masters in Political Sciences at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies, Bucharest. In 2010 he became a Doctor in Military Science and Intelligence, a title conferred by the National Defence University “Carol I”, Bucharest.
Between 2001 and 2006 he worked within the Romanian Institute for Recent History, and as a columnist for various newspapers in Romania.
From 2005 to 2010, he was Director General of the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes in Romania. In this capacity, he researched the post-communist judicial system in Romania, and published books on the history, structures, and the activities of the secret service in communist Romania. He also published in the general press and coordinated projects on the most delicate aspects of communism: repression, torture and population control.
He was appointed state counsellor to the prime minister of Romania on national security issues in 2006, and Government representative in the National Intelligence Community. In this role he coordinated the Department for National Security Issues, and took part in reforming the legal framework of Romania’s national security systems. During his mandate, he visited risk zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina – as well as expert centres in the field of national and international security in the US and UK.
Among his books are Stasi şi Securitatea (Stasi and the Securitate - 2005), together with Georg Herbstritt; Guide to Archives, Research Institutions, Libraries, Societies, Museums and Memorial Places (2004); Cei cinci care au speriat Estul (The Five Who Terrified the East - 2003); Ziua care nu se uită. 15 noiembrie 1987, Braşov (The Day We Won’t Forget. 15 November 1987, Brașov - 2002) with Marius Oprea; Securiştii Partidului (The Party’s Securitate Men - 2002). Articles in the national and international press include studies of the former communist secret structures, as well as analyses of the new secret services in Romania.
Stejărel Olaru is presently a university lecturer in the history of Romanian secret services and intelligence gathering.
• Rîmaru - Butcher of Bucharest
Edited by Ramona Mitrică. Paperback, Profusion (London, May 2012), ISBN 13: 978-0-9568676-3-6
Profusion Crime Series
Attack in the Library by George Arion, Kill the General by Bogdan Hrib, Anatomical Clues by Oana Stoica-Mujea, Rîmaru - Butcher of Bucharest by Mike Phillips and Stejarel Olaru.
Series Editor: Mike Phillips