Review Blog

May 11 2009

Crime time: Australians behaving badly by Sue Bursztynski

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Ford Street Publishing, 2009
ISBN 978 1 876462 76 5
(Age 11+) We all know the fascination held by many readers for true crime stories and investigations. Here is a well-researched and broad-ranging collection of tales which focus on criminals appearing throughout Australian history. Beginning in the 1600s, a comprehensive list moves through the decades to the early 2000s, featuring such names as John Giles Price, Ned Kelly, Squizzy Taylor, Ronald Ryan, Julian Knight, Ivan Milat, Chopper Read, and Carl Williams. Each story devotes about four pages to its subject, accompanied by a clever little portrait drawn by Louise Prout, with Did You Know facts presented as a footnote to each chapter. This compilation is readable and interesting, and perfect for the young investigator. Kerry Greenwood's introduction invites the reader, with great enthusiasm, to wallow in the 'deep, dark history of crime, true crime' of Australia's past. However, it is disconcerting to find some stories included, such as Martin Bryant's of the Port Arthur Massacre, with his portrait illustrating the title page, when the cover, title and introduction imply a certain light hearted or sensational element to the collection. Overall the collection is informative and extensive, with each entry conveying a good sense of place, time and character. A useful bibliography and index are included.
Julie Wells

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