A BLOOD-curdling thriller about a serial killer who carves crosses into his victim’s necks is among the top ten books borrowed by cons holed up in Polmont.
The Crucifix Killer by crime fiction writer Chris Carter was plucked off the shelves by Scotland’s worst young offenders looking to kill time during lockdown.
It tells the fictional tale of the hunt for a mystery psychopath who leaves a trail of death and destruction while being pursued by a hero detective.
A summary of the disturbing plot reads: “When the body of a young woman is discovered in a derelict cottage in Los Angeles, Robert Hunter is thrown into a nightmare case.
“The victim suffered a terrible death, and on the nape of her neck has been carved a strange double-cross: the signature of a psychopath known as the Crucifix Killer.”
An online reviewer describes the story as “scary, smart and satanic” and pinpoints a chilling sentence that reads: “Naked, strung from two wooden posts, the skin has been ripped from her face – while she was still alive”.
Also among the most popular reads is a psycho romance called Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Krelsey Cole which features a brutal Highland warrior who lusts after a dangerous beauty.
And another unnerving choice is I am the Night by Ethan Cross described by one critic as a ‘great mix of gruesome murders, a psychotic killer, revenge and great writing’.
A review published on Amazon adds: “Cross’s graphic prose reveals the very worst we expect of a masochistic killer who believes that murder is his vocation.”
Not all the favourite choices have a sinister edge with many prisoners immersing themselves in the world of Harry Potter.
Other less startling reads include a step by step drawing guide and an A to Z dictionary used to unravel bizarre and disturbing dreams.
Young cons also dipped into Wonders of the Universe by celebrity scientist Brian Cox – famed for his infectious enthusiasm for the night sky. Cons in HMP Greenock also have a taste for grim page turners with Dark Matter by Greg Iles and Lee Child’s Killing Floor among its top ten.
But criminals locked up in the Inverclyde nick also took an interest in celebrities with Kris Jenner and the Kardashians a popular selection as well as Happy Monday’s star Bez’s autobiography Freaky Dancing.
The chaotic life of footie genius George Best was also a winner with two of his books among the most borrowed.
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The Man Utd legend’s memoirs Scoring at Half-time sees the late ace recall some of his most vivid and entertaining moments as Britain’s ‘first celebrity football star’.
And his warts and all autobiography Blessed tells of his troubles with alcohol and time spent behind bars as well as his memorable sporting successes.
Female cons at Cornton Vale couldn’t get enough of erotic romance author EL James who wooed the world with bondage thriller Fifty Shades of Grey.
The woman also dipped into the works of Scottish crime fiction queen Val McDermid and US author Karen Slaughter who has won bags of awards for her grizzly murder mysteries.
The details emerged after we asked the Scottish Prison Service to reveal the top ten most borrowed library books in Scottish jails from the 12-month period from the first day of lockdown on March 23 last year.
Not all prisons keep records in a way that would allow them to reveal a top ten ten and some out source their library services to local authorities.
A few establishments didn’t operate their library during the date range including Barlinnie, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Glenochil, Low Moss and Perth.
But lists of the most popular books at Polmont and Greenock were provided along with the top ten authors at women’s jail Cornton Vale.
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