Murder on the River of Gold

Bruce Schuler enjoyed the lifestyle of gold fossicking. It gave the retired builder a sense of purpose, of comradeship with like-minded mates, and the thrill of the chase for gold.

He was doing just that, prospecting with his metal detector in a dry gully on the Palmer River, on that day in July 2012.

Then two shots rang out and he was never seen again.”

This is the gripping premise of Queensland author Robert Reid’s newest true crime book.

In Murder on the River of Gold Reid covers the 2012 murder of Bruce Schuler who was gold fossicking in the remote Palmerville Station area in Cape York, Australia.

Bruce’s body has never been found and a rogue, outback couple Stephen and Dianne Struber were convicted of his murder.

Reid takes the listener into the world of life in the remote region of Queensland, he calls in “Australia’s Badlands”, the fascinating world of gold fossickers and the dangerous and lawless lifestyle of the Strubers who for more than 20 years would roam the vast Palmerville Station (the couple held the lease on this self-styled outback kingdom) and River with a gun, threatening anyone who they perceived was trespassing on their land.

A real hero of this story, and it’s a position she’d trade in an instant to have her husband back alive, is Bruce Schuler’s widow Fiona Splitt. Fiona started an intense advocacy campaign in Queensland to have the “no body, no parole” legislation introduced. As a consequence the Strubers will never be released from prison because they deny they murdered Bruce. Fiona still holds hope Bruce’s remains will be found.

Robert Reid is a journalist and author who I admire a lot because of his exhaustive research and passion for the cases he covers. As part of this research for this book Reid even visited Dianne Struber in prison several times.

For the podcast I co-host called Australian True Crime I interviewed Robert about his book in an episode Australia’s Badlands: The Palmerville Station Murder.

We’ve also spoken to Robert Reid before about his coverage of another Queensland case, the deaths of best friends Vicki Arnold and Julie-Anne Leahy.

You can find out more about Robert Reid’s books at his website Murder and Mystery.

Angels of Death Updated and Rereleased

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy updating my second book Angels of Death, which had been out of print for a few years.

It’s now available again and features two new cases and updates.

The book is about healthcare serial killers and as if that topic isn’t chilling enough, I could have written many more cases. The vulnerability of these killers’ victims and the ease and callousness at which these doctors and nurses committed their crimes horrified me. These killers also expose the deficiencies in governance of healthcare and the cracks in the system, especially aged care.

Cases include Canadian Elizabeth Wettlaufer, Genene Jones, English GP Harold Shipman, Aussie Serial Killer nurse Megan Haines, Donald Harvey and Michael Swango.

Published by Clan Destine Press and available at good book stores and online (Amazon, Booktopia etc).

The Court Reporter by Jamelle Wells

When I was working as a newspaper reporter I did some court reporting and found it terrifying, intriguing and exhilarating. I wished I could have done more and honestly, if I could spend my days reporting on court matters I would be thrilled.

This is why I found the memoir The Court Reporter (Harper Collins) by Australian journalist Jamelle Wells such a superb read.

Court reporter Jamelle has covered some of Australia’s highest profile cases. The book opens with the awful case of Robert Xie who murdered five of his wife’s family – Min Lin; his wife, Yun Lin, their children Henry and Terry and Yun Lin’s sister, Irene Lin. Brenda Lin, 15 was the sole survivor. The family were bludgeoned to death as they slept.

It’s not only the high profile cases (Keli Lane, the Independent Commission into Corruption, The Skaef Brothers gang rape case) that have impacted Jamelle but the day-to-day dramas that unfold each day in the courts.

In an interview with her employer, the ABC, about her book, Jamelle said “I was immediately drawn to the intensity and theatre of a court environment…”.

Jamelle‘s book combines the professional and the personal and gives us the inside track of what goes on in the courts as well as the process of how she works and the day-to-day challenges of being a reporter.

She even writes about court watcherspeople who attend court to watch the drama unfold, whether it’s a high profile case or not, as well as her own day in court. Jamelle had a stalker, a man who started as what she though was a harmless pest but ended up becoming quite threatening and was once found by another resident of her apartment block swinging around two samurai swords!

Another case some readers may not know about (but others will because it was high profile for several years) is the Gordon Wood trial. Wood was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Caroline Byrne, who was found dead in 1995 at the bottom of Sydney’s The Gap. Wood was found guilty of Caroline’s murder in 2008 and then acquitted on appeal in 2012. Jamelle said this case showed her that the public has an insasible interest in murder cases and she’d often be asked about aspects of it by interested people.

I really enjoyed this book. You’ll definitely find yourself turning the pages quickly.

Hard Cuddles by James ‘The Hammer’ Harding

This is the life story of a man who’s now devoting his life to helping men navigate their inner selves and understand

It was great to meet James in person and interview him for my podcast Australian True Crime. It was a candid chat and James has unique experience to help men in crisis and understand some of the underlying factors for male aggression and violence.

James grew up in a pretty normal suburban Melbourne home but as he describes in the book he was drawn to the underworld and wanted to be a “hard man” when he left school. And he did it successfully. He was an enforcer who moved with Melbourne’s underworld.

Addiction was ever present amid this life of violence and then there was the moment of clarity when James knew he was “done” with the life.

The skills that saw him a successful standover man are the same ones he now uses to work with men in crisis.

Hard Cuddles is a really raw read. It’s not every day you read a story like this. You can follow James on Facebook to find out more about his work.

The Whiskey Au Go Go Massacre: Murder, Arson and the Crime of the Century

Get ready for an extraordinary read with this in-depth account of the 1973 fire know as the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub massacre where 15 people were murdered.

This horrific event happened in Brisbane, Australia and has remained one of the country’s most talked about and shocking crimes.

For many years Queensland was a corrupt police state. There was fraud, organised crime and injustices on a large scale.

What was always known and reported was that two men were arrested and convicted for that arson attack and mass murder.

(What’s interesting is that the trial happened in September 1972, six months after the incident. Quick justice so to speak.)

Author Geoff Plunkett is the first person to view the files created by the lead detectives in this extraordinary case. Plunkett is a noted researcher and historian for Australia’s Department of Defence.

This book details never-before-revealed aspects of the investigation and transcripts of interviews. There’s also details about that innocent 15 people who died at the nightclub, building the picture of the absolute tragedy and outrage of this crime.

The inquest into this crime could still be reopened.

Published by Big Sky Publishing.

Martha Needle

I’ll say it straight out – this book Martha Needle: The Spellbinding Story of Australia’s Most Infamous Femme Fatale is one of my top true crime reads of 2018.

This book is meticulously researched by author Dr Brian Williams and is an exhaustive story of the life of poisoner Martha Needle, who was hanged in Melbourne, Australia in October 1894 for the murder of her Louis Juncken, who was her prospective brother-in-law.

Martha’s case hit worldwide attention and she was dubbed a ‘black widow’ as her husband had died earlier. Martha elicited great sympathy before it was revealed she was a murderer because her three little daughters had also died from ill-health. Turns out Martha had poisoned them all. So Martha was a serial killer with five, probably six victims and to this day is still one of Australia’s most prolific female murderers.

Williams’s research is extraordinary. I have so much respect for the process and the passion that’s gone into this book.

There’s more to this story than Martha’s awful, cruel crimes. Williams delves into her childhood and it is horrific. Martha was neglected, raped by her stepfather and a product of extreme poverty.

If you want the hear the author talk more about his book I spoke to him for the podcast I co-host called Australian True Crime. It’s a fascinating chat.

In Australia at the time of the 1890s and her crimes there was the worst economic depression the world had seen. As Williams says “you couldn’t give children away” – there was abject poverty and parents unable or unwilling to care for their kids literally left them on the street. Martha and her family lived in the inner-city of Melbourne, Richmond Ave the living conditions were hard. This great blog post of the slums of Melbourne in the 1800s will give you historical context too.

Martha learned that to get what she needed and wanted she had to manipulate people. There’s also drug addiction in the mix as Martha was hooked on the strong over-the-counter remedies that were available during that time.

Get your hands on this book. Support the research and passion that’s gone into this story. Martha Needle is a chilling, fascinating character.

Martha Needle: The Spellbinding Story of Australia’s Most Infamous Femme Fatale is published by New Holland.

The Family

The Family was a cult that operated in Australia from the 1970s.

Led by the bewitching Anne Hamilton-Byrne The Family was able to infiltrate areas of Government and the healthcare system in Victoria, Australia whereby group members were able to “adopt” (in fact steal) children, with little scrutiny, and raise them in this strange and allegedly abusive environment. This was made possible because there were social workers, doctors and midwives who were cult members.

This book by Chris Johnston and Rosie Jones is an in-depth investigation of the origins of a this cult and how Anne Hamilton-Byrne evolved into a cult leader.

For the true crime podcast I co-host we spoke to Chris Johnston and it’s a chilling chat about how Hamilton-Byrne manipulated so many people to gain riches and access to children.

The book also details the heroic, relentless work of a Victoria Police detective Lex De Man who pursued Hamilton-Byrne and tried to shed light on the cult and their fraudulent activities and tracked her to a farmhouse in upstate New York.

If you grew up in Melbourne’s outer east in the 1980s and 1990s you’ll know the stories of the Family cult who lives in some seclusion in The Dandenongs.

Australia hasn’t had many cults. The Family is the best known one that has left a trail of devastation for many involved who were ensnared by the manipulative Hamilton-Byrne who is now in her nineties with dementia and living in a nursing home.

The Family by Chris Johnston and Rosie Jones is published by Scribe.

There is also a documentary by Rosie Jones on The Family sect.

The Dominici Affair: Murder and Mystery in Provence

In the depths of Provence, rural France in 1952, distinguished British Scientist Sir Jack Drummond, his wife Lady Anne and 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth were murdered at their makeshift campsite.

These murders remain one of the most notorious in European modern history. The case was a sensation and it was a farmer, the proprietor of the farm near where the Drummond family were camping, who was convicted of the murders.

But that wasn’t the end of the story…that’s why this book by Martin Kitchen is so gripping. Kitchen’s The Dominici Affair is a true deep dive into this case and what happened in 1960 and after ( the convicted killer was released from jail on the order of then President Charles De Gaulle).

This isn’t just a true crime book. There’s the fascinating social history of France, that cracks open for people to learn about after the terrible murders. Crime and society intersect so naturally so that’s why I found this book to be such a rich read.

I found this book a very satisfying read. I’m a 40-something woman in Australia and Kitchen’s book allowed me to learn about the way that French rural communities lived and the post World War II changes that posed great challenges to the way of life for these communities. (I’ve actually been to France several times and spent time in rut stunning Dordogne region but at the time I didn’t really appreciate the whole experience in terms of history as much as I would now.)

Definitely recommend this to read.

Back from a long break

Hi everyone. It’s been quite a number of months since we posted here. There’s been a few reasons for that – overseas holiday, work and life commitments and I’ve been working on a podcast this year that’s going really well called Australian True Crime.

I’ve still been reading lots of true crime and Crime fiction and as part of the podcast my co-host Meshel and I have interviewed several authors.

So stay tuned for more posts. I share lots of true crime news on Twitter so follow the account if you’re interested.

The Brain Defense

 

In 1991 Manhattan man Herbert Weinstein killed his wife.  Weinstein confessed to the murder – the couple were having a heated argument and he dropped his wife Barbara from their apartment window. A shocking crime that left Weinstein’s family stunned. Weinstein had no history of violent behaviour.

Enter medicine and brain science. An MRI revealed that Weinstein had a tumour on the frontal lobe of his brain, the area that governs decision-making and impulse control. Could this be the reason Weinstein acted out in murderous rage? His defence used this argument, marking the entry into America’s courtrooms of neuroscience to explain criminal behaviour.

Author Kevin Davis uses the Weinstein case as the anchor of his book The Brain Defense: Murder in Manhattan and the Dawn of Neuroscience in America’s Courtrooms. The book also explores the history of brain science in criminal trials and the scientific links between brain injuries and anti-social and criminal behaviour.

You’ll be intrigued to find out more (if you don’t already know) about the University of Texas mass shooter Charles Whitman and whether the tumour detected in his brain post-mortem could have contributed to his killing rampage of 13 people (31 others were injured). He was shot dead by the police and that’s the only thing that stopped him killing more people. The correlation between Whitman’s dreadful crime, his mental health and the pecan-sized brain tumour found is still subject to debate.

The Brain Defense posed a lot of questions and issues. Can science and medical conditions really be a rock-solid explanation for crimes, especially murder. There’s some really stark evidence about how early-life stress and violence affects the developing brain of children. I found this so interesting and disturbing because it seems that children who have stressful or abusive homes and upbringings are really at such dire risk of stunted health and development.

Davis speaks to experts in the field of neuroscience and psychiatry, including Dr Martin H. Teicher, a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard.

“Society reaps what it sows in nurturing it’s children,” says Teicher.

Davis writes: While abused children may know right from wrong, their brains are so irritable and the connections between hemispheres so tangled that they lack the ability to use logic and reason to control their aggressive impulses…”

The Brain Defense is published by Penguin Random House.

The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj

 

Sobhraj pictured with Canadian girlfriend Marie Andree.

Meet Charles Sobhraj – conman, escape artist, expert manipulator and serial killer.

His story is unbelievable. Except it happened and authors Richard Neville and Julie Clarke documented the extraordinary and frightening life and crimes of Sobhraj. in 1977 Neville and Clarke were invited to interview Sobhraj to tell his life story. They did this and more, investigating the murders by Sobhraj of the western tourists in Bangkok and Kathmandu. The result is The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj.

Sobhraj was able to expertly seduce women, con tourists (some of whom had very lucky escapes with their lives), and escape jails.For instance one young man, a French tourist in Bangkok, found himself seriously ill with what he thought was dysentery, and unable to care for himself. he was virtually help captive in Sohraj’s apartment, and though he thought Sobhraj and his girlfriend Marie were taking care of him, they were actually poisoning him. The apartment attracted many travellers and this is where Sobhraj lured some of his victims.

This book is investigative journalism with the pace of a novel. I was gripped and quietly terrified reading it. Married couple Neville and Clarke (Neville passed away in 2016) chart the odyssey of Sobhraj’s crimes and the people caught up in his web – the victims, girlfriends, wives and the people who started to piece it all together (your heart will be in your throat when you read about the married couple, neighbours of Sobhraj and the diplomat went with their suspicions).

This is absolutely one of my top crime reads. An extraordinary book that deserves to be a true crime classic.

Greed: The ‘Mr Asia’ Connection

 

This is a great read about a notorious drugs syndicate that spanned Australia, New Zealand, the UK and beyond.

The drugs syndicate, known as ‘The Organisation’ was spearheaded by a Kiwi-born criminal called Terrence ‘Terry’ Clarke, who started selling cannabis known as ‘Thai Sticks’ and graduated to trafficking heroin using his network of associates.

The stakes were high and the rewards were big.

New Zealander Terry Clark was the head of global drugs syndicate called ‘The Organisation’.

Author Richard Hall paints a comprehensive picture of this crime saga, starting with the murder of Kiwi man Martin Johnstone, the one dubbed ‘Mr Asia’ because he was The Organisation’s Singapore contact. Johnstone’s body, sans his hands, was thrown into a flooded Lancashire Quarry.

This book, which I picked up at an op shop (a great way to find hard-to-get and out-of-print true crime reads) was published in 1981, after five men, including Terry Clark, tried under the name Terry Sinclair) were convicted for their part in Johnstone’s murder.

The book details the court trial, the movements of the syndicate and how they smuggled drugs to various countries and the luxury lives these people led. As the title of the book suggests, it was greed that led to the downfall of Terry Clark/Sinclair.

Highly recommend this read. (I love that this copy is a Pan Original paperback.) It had been republished in the wake of the Underbelly: A Take of Two Cities series.

The Coroner: Investigating Sudden Death

L to r: The Coffee Pot cafe, Strathfield Plaza; The Coroner book cover; Derrick Hand speaks to Wauchope Library book club in 2009.

Derrick Hand was the New South Wales State Coroner for five years and had served as a magistrate and deputy state coroner for many years before that. In fact, at the time of his retirement he’d worked 47 years in the court system.

This book is a fascinating look into his career and the many cases – some of Australia’s most high profile – that Hand worked.

Police shootings, the death of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, the Threadbo disaster and many murders including that of Anita Cobby – Derrick Hand writes from his unique perspective.

Having seen so many deaths and complex cases, Hand details the case that affected him the most – 1991’s Strathfield Plaza massacre in Sydney by taxi driver Wade Frankum.

On the massacre, Hand writes: “People ask what was my most harrowing experience. This was it. Six bodies lay where they had fallen”.

Hand was the magistrate when Sydney’s “Granny Killer” first appeared in court. Hand recounts the case of John Glover who murdered six elderly women from Sydney’s North Shore, an exclusive enclave of the harbour city.

Co-written with journalist Janet Fife Yeomans, The Coroner is a gripping read. I Highly recommend you get your hands on a copy.

Fathers Who Kill

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If there was any book I’d recommend for people to understand the gravity of violence against women and children then this book is the one.

in Look What You made Me Do: Fathers Who Kill, Megan Norris (On Father’s Day, Love You to Death) has gathered together some of the most shocking crimes in Australia – and many of them you may not have heard about.

These are all cases of where men kill their children to exact the ultimate revenge on their ex-partners. These brutal, emotionally stunted men kill their own children so the mothers will suffer for the rest of their lives.

Norris, who has for many years written about some of the most difficult crimes and the issue of violence against women and children, expertly covers the cases of  seven women whose children were murdered by vengeful fathers.

She has previously written the book On Father’s Day about the revenge murders by Robert Farquharson of his three little boys. Norris wrote the book with Cindy Gambino, the mother of the boys and raised awareness of this ultimate form of family violence and punishment to the woman and mother of children. The case is also included in this new book.

Megan Norris pictured with Cindy Gambino at the dam where Cindy's ex-husband  purposely drove into and drowned their sons. PICTURE: Lisa Saad
Megan Norris pictured with Cindy Gambino at the dam where Cindy’s ex-husband purposely drove into and drowned their sons. PICTURE: Lisa Saad

There’s the case of Karen Bell, who continually had to flee the isolated New South Wales property she shared with her violent, drunk and drug-addicted husband Gary. The only slight assurance in Karen’s mind every time she had to escape the beatings she endured was that her husband had never hurt their children…until the fateful day he gassed himself and their three kids Jack, 8, Maddie, 7 and baby Bon, 16 months.

There’s also Michelle Steck’s case. In 1993, Michelle’s three-year-old daughter Kelly East was gassed by her father Kevin, who also killed himself. East was a violent control freak who, when he could no longer control his ex-partner, exacted the ultimate form of family violence by murdering their little girl.

Michelle is an inspirational woman. She has advocated for the rights and safety of women and children and entered into local politics in Western Australia. Long before family violence became a topic that is now widely covered in the media and in politics and is a key crime focus for police, Michelle was trying to get prominent people to wake up and see the legal systems in Australia needed a complete overhaul.

Look What You Made Me Do is also a stark reminder that these horrific crimes by vengeful fathers have been happening for years and seems it’s only since the high coverage of the tragic, and very public murder of 11-year-old Luke Batty in 2014 by his father that the message that the anti-violence message has reached Canberra and politicians who have the power to change laws. His mum Rosie has become the public face of family violence.

Norris details how Michelle predicted it would take the murder of the child of a celebrity by its father or a very public murder for anyone to pay attention. Tragically her predictions came true.

As Michelle powerfully states: “The worst of it is there are so many of us mums walking in Rosie Batty’s shoes. And we’ve ben out there campaigning for changes and canvassing these issues for many years without anybody really listening”.

 

The Blood on my Hands

This book is a difficult read. I just have to firstly put that out there. And it’s the  subject matter that’s difficult and confronting, rather than deficiencies in the prose. True crime, memoir and social commentary, The Blood On My Hands is a like nothing else I’ve read. 

Shannon O’Leary’s story is harrowing. Set in 1960s and 1970s Australia, Shannon’s childhood was full of depravity. It was so horrific it’s often hard to believe this book is an autobiography. 

O’Leary used pseudonyms for herself and family. It’s understandable because the terror and abuse she suffered is unbelievable. The fact that the author has been able to survive, let alone write, quite eloquently, about a life that is straight out of the worst horror film you could imagine is amazing. And O’Leary’s tone throughout is consistent and engaging…if that’s even the right word to use in this context.

In the prologue. Shannon mentions how she first wanted to commit suicide at age 4. She went on, in her words, to become a nationally recognised children’s entertainer. (I keep wondering who she is.)

The true crime writer in me became instantly hooked on the claims by O’Leary that her depraved father was a serial killer, probably responsible for the disappearances of many Australian girls. In fact the author describe how she and her mother witnesses her father murder a young woman. They did not know who she was or where her body was disposed of.  I wanted to know more. 

Her father died in 2009, never facing justice for the crimes, the dreadful abuse, described in this book. 

I’ve read several other reviews of this book that say similar to what I will say here: I can’t say I enjoyed this book but I read it with intrigue and commend Shannon O’Leary for writing this with such candour. 

Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People


When I saw this book on the shelf of an op shop near my work I grabbed it. 

I had long been intrigued and horrified with the tragedy known as Jonestown ever since I saw photos of the hundred of dead bodies in the compound in an old Life magazine I’d bought from a second hand book store. I was in my early teens and I remember thinking “how could something like this happen?”. 

Author Tim Reiterman Reiterman was one of a handful of journalists who travelled with the Congressman Leo Ryan on a fact-finding mission to Jonestown, Guyana. There had been many pleas and pressure on authorities from concerned families of People’s Temple members finally a contingent headed to the compound. On November 18, 1978, after meeting with Jones and his followers, the small party was ambushed by Peoples Temple gunmen as they were leaving. Leo Ryan and four others were killed. Reiterman himself was wounded and managed to grab the camera of his murdered photographer colleague and snapped the only photos of the aftermath. 
Soon after the mass suicide – or mass murders – occurred at the compound with few survivors.  


Reiterman spent four years researching and writing this definitive account of Jim Jones and the tragedy called Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People. The book is mammoth – 624-pages and is one to take your time with. It delves deep and is compelling. 

The reader will become intrigued by the personal stories of the members of The Peoples Temple, which seemed to start with the best intentions (although Jones appears to have been deeply flawed from a young age) but  turned sinister under the control of the ego-driven and paranoid Jones.

For more information on Reiterman’s experience here’s a Time q&a with the author. 

I highly recommend this book as the must-read on Jim Jones and how Jonestown came to its terrifying end. 

Famous detective Stories – True Tales of Australian Crime

Famous Detective Stories

This is a sassy little read that features some of the most popular and sensational true crime stories published in the 1940s and 1950s in an Australian pulp magazine called Famous Detective Stories.

From National Library of Australia’s NLA Publishing, Famous Detective Stories: True Tales of Australian Crime is a tribute to a part of Aussie literary history. While nowhere near the Miles Franklin Award, the pulp mag Famous Detective Stories was wildly popular and publishing entrepreneur Frank Johnson had a pool of moonlighting journalists, crime enthusiasts and former detectives who wrote the lurid crime tales from newspaper clippings. Pulp magazines were thin volumes printed on cheap paper – hence the moniker.

Despite some blaming pulp mags for contributing to the moral and cultural decay of society at the time, the public lapped up the tales and the magazine was a monthly publication from 1946 to early 1954.

true detective stories

The book is illustrated by the newspaper clippings to accompany the stories, which is fascinating for readers and gives them a sense of the tone of crime reporting of the time.

The titles of the stories are intriguing and explicit – Murder in Secret, Cattle Stealers of the Black Country, See You in Church and hell on High Seas (among others).

A must-read for true crime buffs or anyone interested interested in Australian social history.

The book is released on July 1 from NLA Publishing.

Background information from ‘A world of fancy fiction and fact’: The Frank C. Johnson Archive at the State Library of New South Wales, by Rachel Franks, State Library of New South Wales. (Definitely worth a read.)

A new theory on Jack the Ripper

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Melbourne author Richard Patterson has presented another theory to the mystery of Jack the Ripper – and he thinks he’s found the real culprit.

Patterson’s book Francis Thompson – A Ripper Suspect puts forward the theory that a poet was the infamous killer.

“Out of all the people suspected of the Whitechapel crimes, it would be hard to imagine anyone less likely to fit the image of a rough and strong armed assassin, like the paper’s described, than this mild mannered poet…,” Patterson writes.

The book is an interesting read full of the history of London’s East End, the background about the Ripper theories and investigations and of course, meticulous research (the teacher from New South Wales has spent more than 20 years researching his theory) about Francis Thompson, his poems and why the author believes he is strong contender to be Jack the Ripper.

His theory came about in 1997 when he read a book of Thompson’s poetry. Then there was the fact that Thompson also trained as a doctor that led Patterson (pictured middle) on his research journey.

Not surprisingly Patterson’s book, which he self published in 2015, has received press attention from around the world.

“I’m grateful to have played some part in helping people understand Thompson, and why he might have been the Ripper,” Patterson told UK’s The Mirror newspaper.

“Thompson kept a dissecting knife under his coat, and he was taught a rare surgical procedure that was found in the mutilations of more than one of the Ripper victims.”

For those interested in Jack the Ripper, and the more ardent “Ripperologists”, Patterson’s book is a compelling read.

I have nothing but respect for people who research as passionately as Patterson has for this book.

A Murder over a Girl: Justice, Gender and Junior High

On Feb. 12, 2008, at E. O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, CA, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney shot and killed his classmate, Larry King, who had recently begun to call himself “Leticia” and wear makeup and jewelry to school.

New York Author and psychologist Ken Corbett was disturbed and intrigued by the case. So much so he delved deep into the issues of gender norms and traveled to California to follow the case and attend the court appearances of King. Larry King was also black and his killer was from an extremely violent background and had emerging Neo-nazi ideas.

The issues facing LGBTI people have never been more in th public arena. People who may never have had any reason – or care – to know about issues of gender are now able to know about the human rights and violence issues facing people who identify as LGBTI.

This book was interesting and disturbing. It’s a blend of  true crime and a look at how society creates the breeding ground for a crime like this to happen.

I’d recommend reading this article and interview with the author published in The Atlantic for  more background.

A Murder Over a Girl is published by Henry Holt and Company.

Invisible Women

This is an important book. It’s a collection of 65 stories of murdered sex workers in Australia.


Written by Kylie Fox and Ruth Wylie, Invisible Women: Powerful and Disturbing Stories of Murdered Sex Workers gives some voice to these victims who were voiceless in life.

Many of the stories are short – some only a few paragraphs and that is the stark reality of the lack of attention the murders of prostitutes rate in the media.

There are cases that were well publicised like the murder of grandmother Johanna Martin, whose working name was “Jazzy O”.

Johanna’s murder got a lot of coverage because she was a wealthy woman from her stripping and sex work  (it was reported she would do things that many other strippers would not and was a popular footy club performer). Outside of her work, Johanna was a devoted mother and grandmother who lived a quiet life.

There’s the story of the horrific 2004 killings of Darwin women Phuangsri Kroksamrang and Somjai Insamban, Thai nationals who were bound and dumped in crocodile infested waters. Two young men, 19 at the time, who murdered the women in what the prosecutor believed was a thrill killing.

Then there’s the women you’ve most probably never heard of – Lisa Moy, Zanita Green, Colleen Moore, Michelle Copping…there’s so many more I could list from the book.

Page after page of this book is a gruelling reminder that these women are treated like they are not worth much.

I’m glad the authors wrote this book. I urge people to read it.

Invisible Women: Powerful and Disturbing Stories of Murdered Sex Workers is published by Echo Publishing.