The Lost Girls by Ava Benny-Morrison

Australian True Crime- non fiction

Library Ebook Copy- 2019

Snip20190616_2I had a hold on this book from the library and it finally popped up on my Libby app as I was about to fly home from Morocco to Tasmania.  I was happy to see it as I find movies on flights are notoriously hard to hear with engine noise and flight attendant interruptions so I settled down for the long haul and finished this book in record time.

In 2010 Dirt Bike riders came across a body in the Belanglo State Forest in New South Wales. As most Australian people will remember this was the state park that serial killer Ivan Millat buried the backpacker victims that he was convicted of killing and now serves terms of life in prison.  It was determined that the victim discovered in 2010 was not a part of this crime.

Five years later a young child was found in South Australia, in a suitcase alongside a highway near Adelaide.  Australians may also remember the “body in a suitcase” case at that time.

The author follows this crime from the beginning of the discovery of the woman’s body in 2010 until the end of 2018. The crime is uncovered early in the book. The story is not so much about the crime but about how people’s lives can change in an instant or over time due to the experiences they have  in life or the people they meet and worse, might fall in love with.  I found the psychology behind the characters in this story to be fascinating. Of course drug abuse enters the picture and makes it even worse.

Domestic violence, jealousy, loyalty, betrayal, poverty are all themes in this book. As a result of these issues and how they combine equals a very tragic tale indeed.

The journalistic writing of this story and the lives of these two people is excellent. The story is revealed in a very straight forward way without sensationalism.  The author and the reader really cares about these people. It is interesting to see how a murderer is made in this instance. It begins with negligent parents and abuse of a small boy and leads to tragedy and misery that involves many families over the course of a couple of generations.

Ava Benny-Morrison is a crime reporter for The Daily Telegraph covering New South Wales and Queensland. This is her first book.

I kept thinking as I read it, “What if the parents had been loving and understanding” to this young boy….. Would it have happened?  Many people do suffer traumatic childhoods and never go near committing a murder but it isn’t unreasonable to see how the various experiences of all the characters in this book end up with the results of their lives.

The book doesn’t go into gory detail over the cases until the wrap up at the end during the trial. Of course all the details must be revealed during the trial.  This is not a book for those who don’t want to know specific details.  The first 90% of the book is about the lives of everyone around the victims in this case. But the last 10% does bring it all into focus as the conclusion and repercussions are reached.

When we often hear so many stories of corrupt police officers and justice gone astray because of it, the story is also a tribute to the officers who did their job and the really good communication between authorities in four states that culminated in the solving of this case.

If this is a genre you find interesting then I can recommend it. If you prefer a more gentle read don’t pick it up. I must say though I barely noticed the extreme turbulence of my flight while this book was in my hand. I read and read and read. I could not put it down. Snip20181111_4