The Husband Poisoner – Tanya Bretherton

So admittedly my husband was a little concerned when he discovered this book sitting on my kitchen bench – lol.

This was such a fascinating read, and unlike anything I’ve ever read before.  I don’t usually read a lot of non-fiction books unless they are true crime related and often about stories that are well publicised so it was so interesting to read this one and the lesser known crimes of some suburban Sydney housewives who decided to do away with their husbands or random members of their families.

Mainly set around the late 1940’s to the mid 1950’s, while this was an inside look into how you can find some nifty ways to use rat poison if you wanted to remove someone from your life, it was so much more than that.  It was a look into how so many of the regulations we know today came into effect. From banning dangerous poisons like Thallium that were once easily purchased at your local chemist, to introducing the food safety acts to ensure the food we purchase is healthy, safe and not contaminated in anyway.

For the locals out there the author also did a fabulous job of heavily building into the story two police detectives who played a huge part in uncovering the use of Thallium as a poison, but also of how their careers came to grow and prosper thanks to their heavy involvement in the NSW Police corruption of their time.  They may have been responsible for catching killer housewives, but they were effectively criminals themselves.

There were certainly frightening elements to the story, and certain sections of the book are absolutely not for the faint hearted as we learn about what actually happens to the human body at decomposition stage, personally, I now wish I didn’t know. 

It was also a heartbreaking reminder of how the mentally ill were treated in that era, often subjected to horrific treatments and inexcusable neglect.  One of the terrible symptoms of Thallium poisoning is severe damage to the nervous system and when no doctor could determine a cause for the victim’s excruciating pain they were simply diagnosed as being neurotic or suffering a nervous breakdown and ultimately sent to an asylum.

As a little light relief I loved how each of the chapters were finished off with a recipe that would have been popular in its time, such as Bonox, Brawn, or Potato and Bacon Pie, all minus the added ingredient of rat poison of course.

This really was a truly fascinating book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m so thankful for the chance to have read it thanks to Hachette Australia.  I would absolutely recommend this one to anyone that loves historical fiction, true crimes and anything that is that little bit different.

Stalking Claremont – Bret Christian

Exactly as the title states, this book is about the hunt for a serial killer. It is the true story of the disappearance and murder of three young women between 1996 and 1997 from an upmarket suburb of Perth in Western Australia after nights out at a local club.  Sara Spiers disappeared during the early hours of January 27th 1996, her body has still yet to be found.  Jane Rimmer disappeared on June 9th, 1996, she was found a few short weeks later brutally murdered.  Then in August 1997, Ciara Glennon disappeared, her body also found a few weeks later.

Stalking Claremont painstakingly takes you through the details of the disappearance and subsequent murders of these young women and what would become a twenty year man hunt by the Western Australian Police to catch who they would come to term as the Claremont ………

The author, Bret Christian, is noted as a newsman and reporter and it’s evident in his writing of this book.  It’s a long read which is thoroughly researched throughout, chronologically detailed from the early sexual attacks of women in the Claremont area in the early 1990’s through to the eventual charging and conviction of the perpetrator almost twenty years later. I cannot even begin to imagine the time and effort that must have gone into the writing of this book, such is the detail.

I’m a huge fan of true-crime documentaries and can often be found watching the Crime Channel on Foxtel as well as reading true-crime books and this one had me mesmerised from the very first page.  I felt horror, sadness, anger and such absolute frustration as I devoured every page.  Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing but to read through how much evidence was missed over the years, how many years were wasted on the wrong “suspects”, and how disjointed the investigation seemed to be over such a long time, I often found myself verbally yelling at the book as if it was to blame for not taking a particular piece of evidence seriously, or looking in the wrong direction for the killer.

Again, evident in the authors background, the book in no way sensationalises the story and is extremely respectful to all those involved in these horrible crimes, especially towards the victims and their families.  That is one of the things I loved most about the book, it was just a true factual story about how these poor girls died, how their killer was able to remain free for so long and ultimately how the police were finally after almost two decades, able to catch The Claremont Killer.

Broken down into short chapters, each detailing an important step in the investigation, Stalking Claremont is an absolute must-read for any true-crime or thriller fan.  Obviously it is at times distressing, with a few graphic and upsetting sections in the book about the sexual attacks and murders, more especially so knowing this is a true story, but again, the author keeps his story very fact based, it is not written for shock value.

Highly recommend grabbing a copy of what for me was a 5 star read.  Stalking Claremont is out today and I want to say a huge thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.

*****