And Then the Darkness by Sue Williams

This is the second book I’ve read about the disappearance (and presumed murder) of English backpacker Peter Falconio.
I bought it at the same time that I picked up Dead Centre (see previous post)

darknessIt didn’t take long to know the direction this book would take. It loudly broadcast its lack of objectivity in the second chapter, saying of the man who was ultimately convicted of murdering Peter Falconio:

“Bradley John Murdoch was a mistake from the moment of conception”.

It’s a far different kind of book from the one written by Robin Bowles.

Bowles wrote from her own experience, reporting what others told her, and what she personally saw and heard. Although her own assumptions clearly colour how she recounts those experiences and her observations.

In the earlier part of her book Williams writes more in the style of a novel, from the viewpoint of an all seeing, all knowing narrator. While she most likely based her work on a lot of research, I find that kind of narrative voice can give a story a sense of authenticity and authority they possibly don’t deserve. A lot of authorial assumptions can be presented with the appearance of being fact rather than an imaginative interpretation of events and experiences.

For me, what is gained in “readability” is lost in trustworthiness, and my motivation to keep reading wasn’t there, despite the “easy-to-read” style. If I wanted crime fiction I have more than enough unread books of that genre on my shelves. I read this one hoping to get a more FACTUAL perspective.

The central event of the case, in which Falconio disappeared and Lees escaped abduction, is described partly from the point of view of the perpetrator, getting into his head. Considering the person convicted of being that perpetrator insists on his innocence, Williams clearly has not based that perpetrator’s point of view on interviews with the man who was actually there committing the crime. She has clearly made it up.

After this imagining of events, Williams does move on to reporting known events: from the police investigation through to the ultimate conviction of Bradley Murdoch. That latter part of the book seemed more objective than the earlier half, but for me the damage had already been done.