30 August 2023

Review: Badness by Gary Jubelin

Badness by Gary Jubelin audiobook cover

After dipping my toe back into the true crime pool again recently, I've roused an old curiosity regarding how people can become capable of hurting others emotionally, psychologically and in some cases physically. I was hoping a retired Homicide Detective might have some answers, and decided to listen to Badness by Gary Jubelin with Dan Box.

Retired NSW Homicide Detective Gary Jubelin was charged with recording conversations with a suspect in the disappearance of William Tyrrell. I've got a lot of time and respect for the author after enjoying his podcast I Catch Killers, which is up to 300+ episodes now. Those familiar with the podcast or the book I Catch Killers will easily slide into his latest offering.

Jubelin takes a look at badness, what it is, what causes it and what separates the guilty from the innocent. Along the way, I think he finds that it's not all black and white.

There's quite a bit in here about Jubelin's responses to developments in the William Tyrrell case, and I guess I shouldn't have been shocked to hear the sheer number of people who reach out to Jubelin every time there's a shift in the case. This has included the search of the home and bushland in Kendall and charges against the foster parents, and I did enjoy hearing Jubelin's perspectives. I'll admit, every time there's a new development, I wonder whether Jubelin might have been able to secure a result by now if he had been left in charge of the investigation.

Working now as an investigative journalist, it was interesting to find the author describes himself as having a foot in both worlds. He still sees himself as a cop deep down, but he's also a criminal and he seems to really struggle with this dichotomy. This reader will never consider Jubelin a criminal, quite the opposite, we need more homicide detectives like him.

But don't worry, this isn't a misery memoir and Jubelin doesn't scream at the skies like I would. While admitting being full of rage, he directs his energy into commencing a new career as a journalist with a passion for helping victims of crime.

Jubelin takes up boxing to release his pent up anger and frustration, and quite a bit of time is spent exploring the different people he's met in the early morning sessions, and what they've each taught him. The most memorable for me was the discussion with bank robber and serial prison escapee Bernie Matthews.

Jubelin seems to have found a kind of affinity with Matthews, who - after his days of law breaking were over - also became a journalist. I'll never forget the story of Bernie and the button he found in the darkness.

Unable to see or hear anything in solitary confinement, one day Bernie was down on his hands and knees feeling around his cell when he found a button. By touch he could tell it was plastic, and:
"To him it was a treasure, more valuable than anything that he possessed, which wasn't much, because it could save him from the mind numbing ordeal of solitary confinement. I'd flick the button in the dark and I started searching for it." 6hrs 46 mins
Bernie said sometimes it took minutes to find the button and other times it would take him hours, but the button gave him purpose and he did this for days at a time. It's easy to understand how Jubelin formed a friendship with this convicted bank robber turned journalist, his story moved me too.

In Badness, Jubelin includes the stories of many people as he reflects on the nature and nurture of badness and how we can learn from the past. Narrated by Rob Carlton, Badness by Gary Jubelin is recommended for fans of I Catch Killers and readers interested in true crime.

My Rating:

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