Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

There are quite a lot of collections of true crime stories floating around, and more than one that uses the theme of murder in the family as it's connecting fibre.  BLOODY RELATIONS, however, touches on a number of family murders that are less well known - as well as some of the better known cases in Australia.

Starting off with the startling case of the death of Maureen - wife of Dr Rory Thompson in Hobart in 1983, the book then heads to a more well known case in the death of Jennifer Tanner at Bonnie Doon in 1984.  Next up the death of Chris Hatfield in 1985, asleep on his couch in Sydney's Southern Beaches he was shot in the head.  Then the strange and complicated Waters family goings on when the live-in man of the ex-wife of Ces Waters was shot dead outside their home in 1988.  From there the death - originally thought to be of SIDs of four of Kathleen Folbigg's children starting in 1989, which dogged police work and expert testimony finally revealed as something considerably more disturbing.  Then the New Zealand case in 1994 where originally it was thought that Robin Bain had shot his wife, three of his four children and then himself.  Until the police had a closer look at the only surviving son - David.  In 1997 the body of Svetlana (Lana ) Rana was discovered in a vat of acid in Sydney, when she was supposed to have gone missing from Crown Casino in Melbourne, and in 2000 the family of Jack van Krevel finally imploded completely and he died, horribly.  In 1994 the simple life of Lindsay Jellet was ended, run down by a car on the roadside just outside Ararat - in one of the saddest stories in the entire book.  Around the same time as the highly publicised Wales-King murder in Melbourne, Gaetano and Maria Russo were killed in their home in North Altona.  Similar circumstances - not as much notoriety.  In 2000 Katherine Knight killed her lover John Price - the way that she opted to dispose of his body, well even in a careful telling of the story like the one in this book - it's not pleasant to think about.  In 1991 the investigation into the death of 22 month old Harry Manley has some chilling similarities with the Azaria Chamberlain case, and finally, in 2001 the violent deaths of the mother, father and sister of Sef Gonzales seems to have left him distraught - for far too short a time.

The author of this book has continued with his almost conversational, slightly wry tone in BLOODY RELATIONS which actually really helps the reader come to grips with many of these stories.  Not just a chronology of events, there is some commentary and analysis in many of these accounts of some of the more notorious, sad, bad, horrific and just simply pathetic murders in families in Australia in the past couple of decades.  Whilst you may have heard of some of these cases, there are some that are less well known - but the style of the book makes it's a very enlightening insight into all of them.

Year of Publication

It can take years for love to turn to murderous hate - or it can happen overnight.

What drives a man or a woman to commit the ultimate betrayal - to take the life of a parent, a child, a sibling, a lover?

BLOODY RELATIONS is an unflinching exploration of fourteen well known and not so well known murder-in-the-family cases.  Taking readers inside the life and mind of both killer and victim, John Kerr unfolds the gripping stories behind some of Australia's most sensational and shocking crimes.

Karen Chisholm
Saturday, January 9, 2010

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