Inside the Hunt for a Serial Killer
Harper Collins Publishers Australia
The gripping true story of the notorious Claremont serial murders and the nation’s longest and most expensive investigation to catch the killer
In the space of just over a year in 1996-7, three young women disappeared from Claremont, an upmarket suburb in central Perth. When two of the young women were found murdered, Australia’s longest and most expensive investigation was established. More than twenty years later, an unlikely suspect was arrested based on forensic evidence that also linked the murders to two previous vicious rapes. Stalking Claremont, by local newsman Bret Christian, is a riveting story of young lives cut short, a city in panic, an investigation riddled with error, and a surprising twist that absolutely no one saw coming.
Author Bret Christian adds:
“It is hard to dream up a worse way to write the definitive book on the Claremont serial killings. It was always an unfolding story. At our local newspaper we had been following and reporting on the Claremont serial killer cases since 1995. After an arrest was made I gave many interviews, one to news.com.au. Almost instantly I received a call from ABC Books commissioning a book. I wrote it in three months, realising the urgency – Edwards might plead guilty or, being a very high-profile prisoner, something might happen to him in jail.
Publication had to wait three years for a trial to begin, then another 10 months for the completion of the court case. In the meantime, with new interviews and court submissions, much new information had to be woven into the original manuscript. Avoiding making the additions look stuck-on, resembling a coronavirus molecule, meant many headaches.”
Stalking Claremont presents as a detailed murder-mystery thriller, but it was written to provide the answers – to learn from the past in order to better face he future. What went wrong in the hunt for the Claremont serial killer? What was really behind the focus on the wrong people? What finally went right? Can these lessons be universally applied to other unsolved crime mysteries?
I predict a Walkley!
This is a book of powerful emotions. At first my interest was piqued as the crimes and circumstances happened in my home state, in social situations I was familiar with/was involved with …the narrative, like the crimes committed felt very personal. As I started reading, I was surprised at how quickly I was transported back to that era and how suddenly I got the “chills” and locked my open sliding door opposite my seat on the lounge where I sat reading. I felt discomfort, no I felt fear.
This uncomfortable feeling, this apprehension did not leave but was overtaken by anger when I continued to read and discover the many civil liberties that were trashed, individual’s health and lifestyles destroyed, for no concrete reasons, during this lengthy and mostly narrow sighted investigation. How did/could things go so wrong for so long? There are many questions that needed asking, an enquiry that needs to be made (if it’s not happened already/or is happening), reassurances that this sort of flawed investigating never happens again.
I continued reading, again aghast at why useful information was not made public, why first-hand useful information was ignored…then I read details of the murders that had not been released to the public…oh dear! These poor girls. Sorrow, grief…so many more emotions.
This is a book that I highly recommend you read; this excellently researched and written book is astonishing in the facts it illuminates, the wrongs it sets right by clearly announcing to the general public that the publicly persecuted persons of interest were not at all involved with the crimes, and had no physical evidence linking them to the crimes, ever, etc (where is the public apologies? Where is the compensation, though how you can compensate for this level of distress and intrusion caused to blameless individuals I do not know)? I am outraged as you may have gathered. And I hope that somehow, someone reading this book will recall a vital piece of information that will bring Sarah Spiers home. I hope Bradley Robert Edwards is never released from prison.
What a read! I don’t think a book has ever incensed me like this.
I predict awards for Bret Christian. Thank you for shining the light on this controversial investigation.
This one sounds absolutely compelling, Carol! It’s not easy to tell a true story, and still draw the reader in as though it were a novel. I give credit for that. And it sounds fascinating, too. Glad you felt so engaged in it.
Margot it is an excellent read – I hope it becomes available in the US soon.
Powerful review Carol, I can feel your passion and outrage, and rightly so!
Are you familiar with these cases Tracey – a very dark time in Perth’s history. And a well written account of the events, engaging yet not glorifying the violence.
I’m familiar with the case in so far as I’m aware of many true crime cases across Australia, but don’t know the ins and outs of the investigation or legal case. I’m just so glad he was caught and he’s been sentenced, seems like it took forever to get to this point.