Killer's web of deceit ably described

20:58, Sep 17 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Black Widower
By Charles Lavery (Mainstream, RRP $35)

It was a case that shocked everyone on both sides of the world: Malcolm Webster was convicted of murdering one wife in Scotland and trying to kill a second wife in New Zealand.

Award-winning journalist Charles Lavery has followed the case closely and in The Black Widower he examines the crimes of this callous and cold-blooded killer, who murdered his first wife for a £200,000 insurance payout by drugging her, staging a car crash and then setting fire to the vehicle while she was still inside.

At first he got away with it, taking the money from the insurance company and the sympathy from his friends and family.

He blew the cash in just a matter of months, then moved on to wife No 2: New Zealander Felicity Drumm.

After they met in the United Arab Emirates, they moved to New Zealand where they married and Webster proceeded to plot ways to gain control of the money his wife had saved and the property that she owned mortgage-free.

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Webster followed a similar path with his second marriage, drugging his wife and trying to stage a car crash.

However, things didn't always go to plan for him and Felicity was saved by the fact that her father had grown suspicious of Webster's behaviour and while checking up on him discovered he had cleaned out his daughter's savings.

When confronted, Webster left the country and Felicity began to rebuild her life.

However, it wasn't until the full story came out about Webster's past that she truly understood just how close she had come to death.

By the time authorities finally had enough evidence to prosecute Webster, he was already in the process of lining up his next target and had even shaved his head and eyebrows in a attempt to gain sympathy in a fake cancer con.

This book fills the gaps in news reports of his trial, giving background detail to Webster's life and fleshing out the information about his first marriage.

Author Lavery has done a great job of telling the story of Webster's cons, and of his downfall, in an easy-to-read but still comprehensive way.