True crime… or not?

I’m a middle aged, middle class woman and I promise you, I’m not really into true crime. I’ll admit I’ve listened to a couple of podcasts (Teacher’s Pet, Dirty John, Who the Hell is Hamish.) But hasn’t everyone in the world listened to those? Isn’t it required listening for the human race? No? My bad.

But I did find a must-listen podcast for anyone who enjoys true crime. (That’s a weird sentence. Who would enjoy crime? Who enjoys listening to stories of assault and murder? What’s that? Lots of people? Really?)

Lets Go To Court is an irreverent mix of true crime and comedy. Basically the two hosts talk about a famous crime and generally poke fun at the perps. You can find the episode I caught here. I laughed out loud, not the usual when you’re listening to true crime I’d suggest. The cases they discussed had both been closed and the people had been punished… or not… It’s from the USA so I am not sure of the extent to which they have to worry about being sued but they totally unleashed on the two criminals involved. They were dummies. Dangerous dummies, but dummies all the same.

Cold Cases…

The benefit of making a podcast about a cold case is seeing the case reopened. I was happy to see such a trial going ahead in Australia. I won’t mention any names because I don’t want to say anything, even on my little blog here, to jeopardise that case. The defence are using everything they can of course, they’re just doing their job, but I really want to see justice for the young woman involved. Can you imagine if you went missing and the cops didn’t even question your partner?

That particular case was contemporaneous to the Lindy Chamberlain case. (Her daughter Azaria was snatched from their tent by a Dingo while they were camping near Uluru.) Chamberlain was treated horrifically. She was tried and found guilty of murder and spent time in prison before the charges were thrown out and she was released. People said the baby was a sacrifice because she had a dress with black ribbons on it. I wonder what people say about the baby clothes out there now with skulls on them!

I remember my parents saying they thought she was guilty.

There was an obsession with cults and Satanism in Australia in the 70s and 80s. That’s why I shake my head at the people sprouting ridiculous rumours about connections between blood-drinking cults and left-wing politicians. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that there are a lot of pollies who are shady and shonky. But one thing I learned researching (and to some extent, living through) the Satanic Panic in the 70s and 80s was this – the people and institutions pointing the finger were, more of than than not, guilty of abuse themselves. In the 70s, the churches and the Scouts were the most vocal at pointing out pagans, witches, herbalists, musicians… anyone who didn’t ‘fit.’ We know now that many churches and church-run institutions were riddled with abusers and those who actively covered up abuse.

Megan Norris, journalist and author, has covered more crimes than I’ve had hot dinners. You can read about her here. Starting her career on the police rounds in the English Midlands, Norris is a master of telling the victim’s story without sentimentality or voyeurism. Her new book The Messiah’s Bride comes out later this year. It tells the story of an Australian cult that preyed on families with young girls. I may not be a reader of true crime but this is definitely on my must-read list.

It’s essential to get it right when you write crime…

At the recent Rainforest Writing Retreat, Roger Bray presented a compelling talk, Learn to Write Realistic Police Procedure. I wasn’t surprised that most crime investigations we see on TV and in books are wrong but Roger also says most writers make their crimes too detailed. Basically we try to be too clever with our crimes! He recommended the old adage KISS – keep it simple, stupid.

I’m still working on Mimi Gets Away with Murder and I’m trying to keep it simple but still gripping. Is there a fine line between simple and boring? I’ve recently discovered the website Cops and Writers after hearing Patrick O’Donnell on The Creative Penn podcast. I rewrote the arrest scene after hearing Joanna’s chat with Patrick, a retired LA detective.


Two of my titles are in another promo this month along with a heap of really interesting looking titles. Click the image below to go to the link. There are a heap of great books including my Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer and Set in Paris.

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