Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Trace: who killed Maria James?

Trace: who killed Maria James? by Rachael Brown
Scribe Publications PTY Ltd: 7/30/18
Ebook review copy; 304 pages
ISBN-13: 9781925693218

Trace: who killed Maria James? by Rachael Brown is the highly recommended investigation of a cold case that was featured on the  ABC podcast Trace.

This is the compilation of investigative journalist Rachel Brown's sixteen month investigation about a cold case for the Trace ABC podcast. In 1980 single mother Maria James was brutally stabbed to death in the back/living area of her Melbourne bookshop. The killer was never found, leaving her two sons, Mark and Adam, who were 13 and 11 when their mother was murdered, living in a holding pattern with no closure. This is the unsolved case that has always bothered veteran detective Ron Iddles.

Once Brown heard about this case, she asked permission to start looking into it. When she began reviewing the case, she found evidence and leads that were overlooked, information that was never brought to light before, a mistake in the forensic evidence, and suspects that were never seriously considered. Her investigation is heart-breaking and reveals cover-ups and mistakes. It also clearly documents abuse by Catholic priests that was covered up or ignored by the church and evidence may indicate collusion between the church and officials.
I have not listened to the pod casts, but this book clearly presents the case and early information, and then follows Browns examination and exploration of the original cold case before disclosing the new information she finds as she undertakes a review of the evidence. Over the intervening years, there is some new information and evidence that has come to light, as well as officials that are less likely to ignore the evidence that a priest was abusing children and may have been involved. Although the investigation does not lead to a resolution, the Victoria Police have reopened an official investigation of this cold case.
This is a well presented, well written, informative review of the original case and Brown's investigation into the cold case.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Scribe Publications PTY Ltd.

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