My library recently got a bunch of new audio books (aside from cosy mysteries!), so I’ve put podcasts on hold and indulged in audios.
Fake by Stephanie Wood
Journalist Stephanie Wood met a man, Joe, who she thought was compassionate, truthful and loving. She fell in love, and they started making plans for their future. However, Joe’s ‘shifting excuses, cancellations, and grandiose plans’, triggered Stephanie’s anxiety and when the relationship ended, she switched into journalist-mode and uncovered the extent of Joe’s duplicity and manipulation. Initially embarrassed and ashamed by how ‘easily’ she had been deceived, Stephanie soon discovered that she was not alone. Fake explores her story, and those of other women who have been deceived by ‘liars, cheats, narcissists, fantasists and phonies’.
What I found most interesting about this story was that Stephanie unreservedly reflects on why the attention, interrogation and intuition she applies to her work as a journalist, was not equally applied to her love life*.
Every writer knows they must show not tell, yet I let Joe tell me everything and show me practically nothing.
An interview with a producer on a television program about these conmen shed some light – the producer said that when these stories are compressed into an hour-long program or a podcast, the duplicity of the conman seems startlingly obvious, however, the incidents that cause suspicion or alarm usually play out over years and are justified or excused.
Conmen hold the mirror up to you and you see reflected back to you your own desires. Simple as that.
Usually, the women, entangled in these relationships and ‘addicted to hope’, continue until friends or family intervene or there is a final straw/ ultimatum incident. As Stephanie concludes –
When you find yourself becoming a detective in your own relationship, it’s time to call it quits.
3.5/5 Stephanie writes with honesty and clarity about something that is becoming increasingly common. Well worth a read.
*I have theories on that from a counselling perspective, although I’m sure that Stephanie exhausted this topic with her own therapist and/or found catharsis in writing Fake (for the record, usually when very strong emotions are at play – anger, anxiety, new love – logical thinking takes a back seat).
Murder on Easey Street by Helen Thomas
1977, Melbourne. Two young women were brutally murdered in their house on Easey Street, Collingwood. The killer has never been found. Journalist Helen Thomas was a cub reporter at The Age newspaper when the murders were committed and saw how deeply they affected the city. Forty-two years on, she has re-examined the cold case, talking to members of the women’s families, residents of Easey Street, detectives and journalists.
My experience of the true crime genre has been largely through podcasts and in this format, I’ve often become engrossed in a story and ‘binge-listened’. I listen to or read true crime for the author’s perspective on the case; for them to play detective; and for them to a have a ‘theory’ – the case being solved is not essential for listening satisfaction (Serial being the shining example). Unfortunately, Thomas didn’t provide enough in terms of new theories or a fresh perspective on the Easey Street case to hook me. I suspect this was because the police would not talk to her about the murders, and that she had limited access to files and evidence.
I did enjoy Thomas’s depiction of pre-gentrified Collingwood and her descriptions of suburban life in Melbourne during the seventies (remember when people took their TVs outside on hot summer nights? Portable sets balanced on a milk crate, feet cooling in paddling pool, and stubbies cooling in an Esky?). However, the blurb describes ‘the countercultural bohemia of Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip brushed up against the grit of the underworld in one of Melbourne’s most notorious suburbs’ which promised more than it delivered.
2.5/5 I think this is one for Melburnian true-crime fans – other readers might find it a bit flat.