Review - MRS MORT'S MADNESS, Suzanne Falkiner
Sydneysider's might have more knowledge of this true crime case, although given we're talking about 1920, it could be that it's slipped from memory there as well. Suzanne Falkiner has used a combination of the facts of the case, and both the victim and perpetrator's life and fleshed that out with non-fiction elements, expanding on the facts to create a logical, and believable narrative.
Working with some materials from the time including newspaper reports and legal / court documents, the story combines the true facts with a storytelling style that attempts to create a scenario that may or may not explain the events that occurred. This makes MRS MORT'S MADNESS more of a hands-off possible suggestion based on the evidence, rather than a exact retelling of events, or reporting of evidence from witnesses or involved parties. Obviously with this sort of non-fiction narrative woven into true facts, there is no guarantee that any conclusions can be drawn, and fortunately this author shies away from that. Rather the reader is left to consider the facts as they are, and the story as it's built, and decide for themselves if Dorothy Mort was mad or bad, innocent or guilty, and whether there was official interference or likely to be more to the story.
Let's face it, after 100 years or so, theories are only ever going to be that, and MRS MORT'S MADNESS certainly builds an interesting theory. It tells that in an engaging and interesting style and could very well drive readers who like their firm and fast conclusions absolutely mad. Definitely, even after reading this book, this reader has no idea what the truth of the matter is.
Four days before Christmas in 1920, Dorothy Mort shot her lover dead in cold blood. The tragic end to her affair with dashing young doctor, cricket star and War hero, Dr Claude Tozer, scandalised Sydney. Dorothy's respectable husband was devastated. Following a trial that mesmerised the public and sent the media into a frenzy, the troubled North Shore mother of two and budding actress was declared 'not guilty on the ground of insanity'. After nine years in Long Bay Gaol, Dorothy was released and returned to live quietly with her husband . . . But was she really mad, or bad, or neither? And what was the secret that her husband kept for the rest of his life? In an absorbing blend of investigative non-fiction and biography, Suzanne Falkiner delves into the case that has intrigued Sydney for almost 100 years.