Daryl Suckling's arrest in remote NSW in the late 1980s revealed his disturbing connections with the disappearance of Jodie Larcombe from Melbourne. Charged with the murder of Jodie, then a sex worker on St Kilda's streets, Suckling was allowed to walk free, as police investigators struggled to prove a homicide without a body. He'd previously escaped conviction more than once after brutally abducting several women.
I've been meaning to pick up KILLING JODIE since a friend, who knows her True Crime mentioned the book in glowing terms. I can see what she meant. This book probably told me more about the frustrations of investigating crimes and illustrated the dedication of members of Police more than any other True Crime book I've read in a while. It also provides a very poignant reminder that murder can devastate the lives of more than just the immediate victim(s).
The book is the story of the investigation into the activities of one Daryl Suckling. Accused of rape and kidnap, the tale that unfolds around Suckling's seeming luck in evading conviction is breathtaking (and not in a good way). The way that the original investigators stayed with the fate of Jodie Larcombe for as long as they did really was a profoundly reassuring aspect of this book. Extremely well written, the author, Janet Fife-Yeomans tells the story, she doesn't overtly editorialise, there's no overarching sign of her own voice in the book. The story is told carefully and sensitively, informatively and illustratively without the need to direct a reader's conclusions, emotions or reactions. The events do that perfectly well for themselves.
KILLING JODIE - Janet Fife-Yeomans
Drug user and part-time prostitute, Jodie Larcombe disappeared from St Kilda in December, 1987. It would have been easy for police to shrug their shoulders and put it down to her lifestyle. However, the detectives assigned to her case refused to give up on her.
They were certain she had been murdered. They knew who did it, but they just couldn't prove it to the satisfaction of the Department of Public Prosecutions.
This year I have read true crime books about crooks, books about crimes and books about the personalities involved, but this is the first book I've read that tells the story from, the perspective of the investigating officers.
KILLING JODIE is an in-depth nuts-and bolts look at the investigation. Because there was no body, not only did the detectives have to collect evidence proving the Suckling had commited murder, they also had to discount the inevitable claims that Jodie was still alive.
The author, Janet Fife-Yeomans became intrigued with the case when covering the story for The Australian newspaper. In her acknowledgements she states that "I have tried to take the reader inside the investigation so the evidence unfolds for the reader as it did for the police" and she has succeeded. KILLING JODIE reads like a police procedural. We share the ups and downs of the case with the investigating officers who refused to let go, the relationships formed with Jodie's family and other witnesses during the case and the impact it had on all their lives.
Fife-Yeomans had the co-operation of both police and family in writing KILLING JODIE and has written it in such a way that it is almost impossible not to become emotionally involved while reading the book.
KILLING JODIE is a must-read for true crime devotees. If you're not, perhaps this book will change your mind.