29 June 2022

Review: Missing, Presumed Dead by Mark Tedeschi QC

Missing, Presumed Dead by Mark Tedeschi QC book cover

* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster & Reading, Writing and Riesling *

In 2014 I read Eugenia, A True Story of Adversity, Tragedy, Crime and Courage by Mark Tedeschi QC and it was so good, the book went on to make my Top 5 Books in 2014 list. Mark Tedeschi is an Australian Barrister and the former Senior Crown Prosecutor for NSW and I've been looking forward to reading more from him since then. Naturally I was excited to enter the competition hosted by Carol over at Reading, Writing and Riesling and even happier to win it! (I host many giveaways here on Carpe Librum but seldom win any).

Missing, Presumed Dead covers the disappearances of Dorothy Davis and Kerry Whelan, both middle class women from Sydney who had only one thing in common, they both knew Bruce Burrell. In the late 1990s, both women were kidnapped and subsequently killed by Burrell. In the case of Kerry Whelan, Burrell sent the victim's husband a ransom note and Detectives found a checklist of kidnapping tasks in his personal papers. The remains of the women were never found, but Burrell was sentenced to life in prison on the grounds of the circumstantial evidence presented to the court. It's a fascinating case and it gripped the headlines in Australia at the time and proved that a suspect can be charged with murder, even in the absence of blood, a body or any human remains.

Tedeschi worked on the case and his legal insights were invaluable. Burrell didn't testify at his trial, but Tedeschi expands his examination to include the questions he WOULD have asked Burrell if he had testified at trial. That in itself was refreshingly unique and I haven't seen that done in true crime before.

I read the print copy alongside the audio and found the narrator Stephen Briggs a little too dramatic for my tastes, given this was true crime and not a suspense thriller. Briggs also didn't convey the voice of Tedeschi at trial very well either. My only other gripe was wondering why Kerry Whelan appears on the cover alone when this story is also about the death of Dorothy Davis. Why exclude Dorothy Davis from the cover when the byline claims this is 'the double murder case that shocked Australia.'

Burrell died in prison in 2016 and frustratingly never disclosed the location of his victim's remains, causing untold anguish for the families. I hope he rots in hell, but Missing, Presumed Dead is a real eye-opener and is recommended for readers of true crime and Australian legal history.

My Rating:

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