True Crime is probably best known for it's analysis or concentration on the investigation, the difficulties with identifying a perpetrator, the perpetrator's possible motives or psychology - basically the crimes themselves. In THE FRANKSTON SERIAL KILLER, Vikki Petraitis has covered those expected aspects, but she's also written a compelling story of the victims. The impact that their deaths have had on their families and friends, drawing out the poignancy of the deaths of three young women.
The nature of the loss of these women is probably even more stark given the sheer randomness of the way that their killer selected them. What's even more sobering is the way that their killer "uses" the notoriety of his crimes to continue to get his little bit of attention. By allowing the story of the lives of these women, as well as their disappearances evolve, Petraitis gives the reader a feeling for the desperation of the families and the police as they came to realise that there was a multiple killer lurking in Frankston. In particular, you get a really good feel for how it is often a series of random sightings, observations and recollections that ultimately lead to a suspect being identified.
Something Petraitis does particularly well is keep herself from the story. There is a comment in the book about her presence at one crime scene, and why, but this author carefully ensures that you aren't reading "her opinions" or "her involvement" which, frankly, is a huge relief. Petraitis presents the events, the facts, the victim's families feelings and the outcomes carefully - she tells the story of those victims, sometimes the investigators, the details of what happened objectively, there's no overt insertion of her presence, feelings and thoughts into the main part of the story. There are however, a few moments in the final chapters where Petraitis offers some analysis and opinion about the perpetrator of these crimes which are worth reading the book for on their own.
Whilst these crimes were solved, and there is somebody in jail for his actions, THE FRANKSTON SERIAL KILLER is a book that is about more than just that. It tells you how the girls were killed (taking care to not sensationalise), it shows you the impact that their disappearance and discovery had on their closest family, it tells you how the suspect was identified, and the case against him built, taking particular care to make sure that all the details were covered off. It gives you a real insight into the feeling in the community; it also gives you some insights into the police force that identified, built the case and ultimately charged the man found guilty. It tells a memorable and touching tale of 3 young women and the impact that their loss has and continues to have on their families and loved ones. It also gives a glimpse into the life of the family of a perpetrator and what they also endure when one of their own commits such inexplicable acts.
What you're sadly left with is the loss of 3 women and the idea that every society, no matter where or what, can find themselves having to come to grips with somebody who seems so mild and banal, who casts himself as a victim in his own right, but really truly is nothing of the kind.
(Disclaimer: I am lucky enough to wrangle http://www.clandestinepress.com.au as well as http://www.vikkipetratis.com I've not discussed this review with either Vikki or Lindy from CDP).