Review: Vikki Petraitis – Forensics

Vikki Petraitis

This is a non-fiction expose of some of the forensic techniques Australian Crime Scene Investigators use. It has 7 true life crimes, ranging from a hit-run to an ‘accidental’ stabbing.

ForensicsThis was impressive because Petraitis had obviously done her work well (as she has in her other books, which I now want to get my hands on), and she places the emphasis on the human touch. Humans are fallible, and criminal ones even more so. The book also highlighted the impact on police officers’ family lives in the days after a crime.

There was just a single chapter that annoyed me, and that was the one where it was a series of shorter events. I must preferred when I could ride on the back of a longer case, and feel like I was right there in the action and come to my own conclusions.

Something that came through to me was the shortcomings of the Australian justice system. First, it’s that most of these criminals are really dumb, and yet police officers have to try build an ‘airtight’ case around them. A confession of guilt isn’t enough to actually pin the charge on someone! Half the time they can tell the truth and get out of most of their sentence anyway.

My other complaint is that many people are reoffenders – what does it take to put them behind bars permanently when they will just continue to reoffend? Sexual assault, murder, killing just for the hell of it, they can all get out and do it again.

I picked this up for 50c at a garage sale, and it was totally worth it! It took me around 2 hours to read on, and with the exceptions I have mentioned, it was good. 4 stars from me.


Review: Ann Walmsley – The Prison Book Club

The Prison Book Club
Ann Walmsley

This non-fiction grabber reads like a fictional book. Who could imagine going into a prison in order to read literature with inmates convicted of murder, drug dealing and robbery. That’s what Ann did, somehow getting over her fear of tattooed men who might want to hurt her.

24876660I’ve never really thought about prison settings, not since my review of Peacock Blue, and of course that isn’t a Western prison. This prison is harsh, and grimy, and that’s what makes the transformation of the men within the book club surrounds more profound. They have high, intelligent thinking, despite what they might have done on the outside.

I wished I knew more, or perhaps less, about the affluent book club that Ann is part of in the outside world. I couldn’t imagine the fancy cheeses or anything else being attractive to me. Ann’s standing in the world wasn’t clear to me at all – did she have a day job? Does that actually matter?

I’ve sort of wanted to join a book club, but I think in general I read the wrong genres of novels. I’m not really a high literature or even mostly adult fiction reader. This didn’t go to prove me wrong, but maybe since I am reading more adult fantasy at the moment (Brandon Sanderson, drool), I could get into that. But then again, I have so many other good novels to read…

More could have been made of the benefits of the book club. There were some places for statistics that wouldn’t have gone astray for me. I did like how Ann followed the men outside prison after their release, and how it made her feel more comfortable in her own skin. Insights into her own life were welcome too.

I requested this novel. I was looking for something a bit more ‘meaty’ to read, and this was it. Non-fiction is not usually my thing, but this novel was really great. I’d put it on a book club reading list any day!