KILLER IN THE FAMILY - Lindy Cameron & Fin J Ross

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

KILLER IN THE FAMILY is the sort of true crime book that goes back and looks at a range of different cases - many of which were extremely notorious - but in this book, the viewpoint is, as the title suggests, where the killer has been part of the victim's own family.

The introduction to the book starts out with some startling statistics - analysing the total number of homicide incidents in Australia (5226 in the seventeen years to 2006) - 5617 victims and 5743 offenders.  From there the breakdown of the number of "stranger murders" versus "murder by a friend or acquiantance", breaking the latter down further into murder by "intimate partner".  One way or the other, you read these sorts of statistics and you just have to wonder how people can get themselves into that position.  But there's nothing very sophisticated or unusual in most of the motivations for most of these murders - it seems to come down to a combination of jealousy, fear, resentment, monetary gain, revenge, sheer bloody stupidity or some combination of all or some of them.  Unfortunately, when it comes to close human relationships we don't seem to be learning much from the past.

The style of the book is to discuss the events - as known - in the leadup to these crimes, and then look at some of the impacts and outcomes - including the sentencing handed down to the perpetrator.  (This frequently includes some very pithy and hard to disagree with conclusions on the part of the authors).

The book is really well worth reading as it provides some real insights into the nature of the crimes and the people that were involved, as well as providing a viewpoint of the outcomes which often isn't discussed in books "reporting" the crimes only. 

The range of crimes reviewed is also quite extensive, which was extremely sobering.   They are grouped together into a series of parts - Father's Day, Suffer the Little Children, Women Who Kill, Children Who Kill, Men Who Kill, Families Who Die and The Hit List.  It's astounding the damage that people will cause to the people closest to them.

KILLER IN THE FAMILY takes a different angle on a number of well known (and written about cases), which is succinctly put with the groupings into the Parts enough to make you stop and think.  Extremely readable, despite the subject matter, it sounds odd to say that you "liked" a true crime book - particularly one about people with such intimate contact with the people that they kill - but I've got to say I found this book extremely readable.

Year of Publication

Most Australians are murdered by someone they know. Usually by someone in their own family.

Killer in the Family explores more than twenty cases where families have been torn apart by murder.

  • A festering resentment by a spurned husband turns into the tragic downing of four children.
  • A violent stabbing in a mother’s past, and she grows up to murder her four babies.
  • Two sons inexplicably kill their mothers.
  • A de facto husband remorselessly beats a five-year-old until the child’s traumatised body gives out.
  • Spouses turn to hitmen to solve their domestic problems.

Brutal, callous crimes by the ones who are meant to care the most.

Blog Currently Reading - Killer in the Family, Lindy Cameron & Fin J Ross
Karen Chisholm
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Review KILLER IN THE FAMILY - Lindy Cameron & Fin J Ross
Karen Chisholm
Thursday, January 17, 2008

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