Staring into the Abyss: Researching Crime & book review ‘Young Blood’



Young Blood; Bob O’Brien


Young Blood, the story of the family murders – Bob O’Brien

4 out of 5 stars

Pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that my home town of Adelaide has a bit of a dark reputation, with bizarre unsolved child abductions, bodies hidden in barrels, and of course the Family Murders, which is the subject of this book.

The family murders were basically a series of five teen boys and young men who went missing in Adelaide, to be found sometime later clearly subjected to horrific sexual abuse, and in a few instances gruesomely butchered after death.

Written by Bob O’Brien, an officer who actually worked the case this book is excellent. Unlike some other true crime books I have read, this one avoids excessive conjecture and drama; instead it is clinical in its descriptions and analytical in it’s approach. This may make it a bit dry for some readers (those who prefer some titillation with their true crimes), but for me I found it just about perfect. It is a methodical and by all appearances very complete discussion of police investigative procedures. Gory details are factujaly included but never glamorised.

This book fits amazingly into the category of research for me, as the novel idea I am working on involves police investigation, of a complex murder, in the 80’s (at least partially)! The logical approach, the interrogation methods, the practicalities of evidence gathering and control…

Basically the hard part will be making sure I don’t accidentally steal huge chucks of it for my own stuff.

I might have said it before (back when I reviewed Cruel City) but reading true crime is a far different beast when you are reading about your own town. What happened to these young men and boys defies belief, and it’s almost impossible to keep the a comfortable distance from the facts when they are set in the streets you walk down.

It’s an uncomfortable realisation when you suddenly actually understand that these monsters live in the same world as you do.

Daily Word Count: 364

Total Word Count: 4,577

Really didn’t want to write today, but after I started the things started to flow a bit better. Slowly progressing.

Feels good.

Today’s Soundtrack


Book Review: Perfections – Kirstyn McDermott

What would her mother think now, if she knew of all the times her eldest daughter had ignored that advice? Those hurried, hopeful encounters in her teens. The desperate calculation of her early twenties. Until she could no longer convince herself that Dr Chiang may have been wrong. Until, finally, she forced herself to give it up. To pack it away. The desire, the longing, the need which she felt for near her entire life. Curled within her heart. Within her broken, bloodless womb. Only rarely, now, does she hear them. The ghosts of those children she can never conceive.

Perfections: Kirstyn McDermott

Busy, busy, busy…and barely blogging :(. I’ve been trying to finalise this review for a week now! 

A great dark urban-fantasy story; satisfyingly true to its Australian setting. Kirstyn writes some great dialogue, and has a deceptively smooth writing style; she makes the reader comfortable before expertly ratcheting up the tension. Some excellent twists and dark events, although I got the feeling that she pulled a few punches. It’s enjoyably creepy – a fine lighter horror read. Recommended.

I was provided a free electronic copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Continue reading 

Book Review: Snapshots: Missives From Beyond the Pale by Glenn C Loury II


Somewhere out there is the first woman to look mortality in the face and realize that this life is all there is.

We call her Patient Zero.

The disease spreads through humanity like wildfire, a contagious apathy deadlier than any cancer. Stripping away our illusions killed millions. How long had we told ourselves there was more? That beyond life lay heaven or… something. Alas the wool fell from our eyes, no more denying the void before us. The gaping mouth of death that led to empty bowels wherein our memories were digested and, in time, forgotten.

How could we face our children? Those who were once precious to our eyes now appeared as mere ambulatory hunks of flesh born into the grave. Another shovelful of dirt heaped atop them each day.

Patient Zero – Glenn C Loury II

A small collection of flash fiction pieces, rich in imagery and delightfully poetic. At 43 pages I read this in a single sitting (it was $1.49 on Australian Amazon, I understand its 99c US) and enjoyed it, but I do think I might have got more out of it had I read paced myself – perhaps only read one story a day? Continue reading

Book Review: Son of the Tree & Houses of Iszm by Jack Vance #VintageSciFi

My first Jack Vance reading, I found these two fun, classic, scifi stories, each being quite different from the other but with a thin connecting botanical theme. Both soft sci-fi stories, these were creative and imaginative tales with some deeper political aspects I was pleasantly surprised by (given their brevity). Some quality vintage sci-fi (that I picked up for $2.50 in a second hand sale – win!).

I wanted to get at least one review into Little Red Reviewer’s Vintage Sci-Fi month that finishes at the end of January, and this certainly qualifies. Houses was published first in 1954, whilst Son was published in 1951. Classic pulpy American scifi, I can see why Vance has his adherents – these are a couple of well-written, well-paced, space operas, each with a touch of mystery whodunnit included for flavour.

Heads up though – I thought the characters and plot were far better in Son than those in Houses.

Continue reading

Brief Book Review: The Female Factory (Twelve Planets Book 11) – Lisa L Hannett & Angela Slatter

Skin, flesh and fat parted, a layer cake of white, red and yellow. The Matron was enlisted to sponge any seepage while Dr Dalkeith snipped and sliced and sawed, though what liquids Miss Habel once had inside her were now thickened, sludges in varying shades of expiration. The notes he took in his own scruffy journal, mid-dissection, were of little interest to Avice, but she watched avidly as he created the accompanying sketches. Unless she was mistaken, the good doctor would soon submit another article to The Lancet, since the Royal Society in London had, thus far, consistently rejected his treatises on the theory and practice of surgery. But a paper detailing the physiognomy of transported criminals? That, surely, would one day see his name printed in the Society’s Philosophical Transactions.

The Female Factory: Lisa L Hannett & Angela Slatter

Fascinating and entertaining, bizarre and grotesque, this is a great collection of four speculative fiction short stories from two Australian authors. Touching on topics that some may find challenging, this book explores aspects of body horror and dark fantasy from a very female perspective. Continue reading

Book Review: Aftermath (Star Wars: Aftermath #1) by Chuck Wendig

Sinjir winces, then stabs out a foot to catch the beast in the knee: a common weak point among the humanoid beings. But it’s like kicking a tree. Thud. The Herglic just looks down, then snorts. The alien lets go of the boy’s bound wrists and grabs Sinjir with both hands – hands big enough to tie a speeder bike into a pretzel twist. But slippery hands too, and Sinjir slides out of the grip and quickly goes for another weak point – the creature’s throat. He flips around, trying like hell to get his arms around the creature’s neck, but oops, no such neck exists. The Herglic chuckles, then jams his massive frame right, then left, each time smashing Sinjir into the wall – Wham! Wham!

Sinjir sees stars, his brain shook up like a cocktail.

A voice. Her voice. The Zabrak’s.

“The nose,” she says.

Then thrusts the heel of her hand forward.

Smashing it right into the Herglic’s nose.

The alien howls, his eyes squeezing shut. Some kind of saline slime-snot begins pooring out of his nasal perforations, and the poor lug slaps at his snout like it’s on fire.

“Get the boy,” she says.

Aftermath (Star Wars: Aftermath #1) Chuck Wendig

A fun and exciting book that is a departure from Chuck’s regular ‘profanity-rich’ work. It’s solid tie-in sci-fi that I think does a good job of capturing the old (and new again) Star Wars vibe.

I enjoyed it.

Disclaimer: I am a CASUAL Star Wars fan. I’ve watched and enjoyed the orginal movies and watched and…well I’ve watched the prequels. Ive read a single movie novelisation by a Donald F Glut. I have read exactly zero of the Star Wars Expanded universe. I personally don’t think my casualness makes a difference to my review, but hell, you might think it does and so I’ve put it here at the start. Continue reading

A Bundle of Brief Book Reviews: Writing Advice: Part Two

photo credit: via photopin (license)

photo credit: via photopin (license)

Here we go for the second segment of my Writing Advice Book review bonanza!!! Fights! Weirdness! Weird-fights! Let’s go!

Actually all these exclamation marks make this post sound far more exciting than I can feasibly deliver. Excuse me while I dial it back at bit.




Let’s continue.

In Part One I reviewed:

In Part Two I cover:

Continue reading