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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars is this a revenge attack?, 8 May 2007
This review is from: Bloodstain - The Vanishing of Peter Falconio (Paperback)
I remember being morbidly fascinated when the story broke in July 2001 of two British backpackers being attacked in the Australian Outback as we had just returned from 9 months doing the same thing. This was a crime that tapped into your worst nightmare and sent a shiver down your spine thinking "there but for the grace of God....".

The fact that one survived (Joanne Lees) and one disappeared (and has still not been found - Peter Falconio) only added to the fascination. In 2005, Bradley Murdoch, a maverick loner who smuggled drugs inter state was arrested and subsequently found guilty of the murder of Peter Falconio and assault related charges on Joanne and is elligible for parole on 2032. A recent appeal was dismissed in Jan 07.

What was interesting about this story is that Murdoch always vehemently denied any involvement (not suprisingly you may say) whilst at the same time Joanne Lees was also cast as not being whiter than white in the press and even in court some of her evidence contradicted what was said in her police statement, including the fact that at the time of the attack she was involved in an affair with a fellow back-packer.

This therefore was the perfect set of ingredients for a whole raft of conspiracy theories.

Prior to reading this book I had read two other books about the same subject, namely And Then The Darkness by Sue Williams & Where's Peter? by Roger Maynard. Both these books were very good reads and simply quoted the facts of the case as well as the discrepancies and allowed the reader to make up their own mind. However, Bloodstain - The Vanishing of Peter Falconio promised to give an alternative view and present other angles and effectively to ask the reader whether or not there was enough reasonable doubt for the conviction.

The author acknowledges that his interest with this story gathered pace because of frustrations both he and the media in general were experiencing with Joanne Lees at the time of the attack. Joanne basically refused to speak to the press or make any kind of statements which fuelled press speculation and made them rush off to dig up some dirt. Joanne then did a paid TV interview with Martin Bashir when she had always said she would never do this further fuelling the fire. As a result the author has written this book with a critical eye at Joanne in terms of her motives and asking did she have any involvement on Peter's disappearance.

This book was written to promote controversy and therefore promote sales. The writer (a journalist) has clearly had a problem with Joanne Lees's story and has tried to stir up some dirt to give an alternative point of view (and this is not my view but fact given the writer went public with his views before the court case). However, whilst he comes up with many questions there are few answers in the book other than the ones presented in court.

He tries to bring reasonable doubt on this case but given the accused was found guilty based on three pieces of his DNA being found in three seperate places then this fails miserably (I am not spoiling the story here as the outcome of the case is public knowledge). To find a conspiracy theory amongst this case is stretching the readers imagination (and intelligence) just a little because if the accused didn't do it and it was a police set up then that means the authorities planted his DNA which was identified 3 days after the attack. In this case why did it take nearly a year to link this DNA to the accused. There would also have to be a significant number of people involved in this conspiracy also. In fact, it would be easier just to find and charge the correct person with the crime than it would be to cover this up so the conspiracy theory angle makes no sense whatsoever and no evidence is presented supporting a conspiracy theory other than theoretical situations.

The author has highlighted a number of inconsistencies in Joanna's story though but given what she undoubtedly went through then this is no surprise given she would have been scared witless, confused and highly stressed so it's no wonder she got some things confused (I would be more concerned if she had remembered everything 100%). The fact Joanne had an affair, was confused about how she ended up in the back of the van or the breed of dog that was there are hardly theories that point to a miscarriage of justice. They provide a juicy twist to the case and an angle for a journalist to write a book (and me to review it!) but nothing more.

Also, given Joanna refused to speak to the press at the time of the incident and afterwards (and also did a TV interview for money when she said she wouldn't) then the journalists may want to exact a little bit of revenge and this book is an alternative view of the case from a critical journalist.

However, I have still given this book 4/5 as it was a very enjoyable read and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the case just to see an alternative view, albeit one that doesn't really hold any water.
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