Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Why was Melbourne so fascinated by the Wales-King murders. For the longest time, reporters went absolutely berserk, almost stalking the family for pictures and quotations. From the time the Margaret Wales-King and her husband Paul King went missing, the rumour mill went into overdrive and every utterance of anyone even remotely connected with the case was plastered all over the pages of every newspaper in town.

The reason I wanted to read this book is to see if Hilary Bonney answered this question, and ultimately, she asked the same question. As the author states in the conclusion to the book, there are 340 murders in Australia (on average). Twelve of these victims are parents killed by their children, of these, five are mothers.

At the same time that the Wales-King case was being plastered all over the newspapers, a nearly identical set of circumstances were being played out in Altona, when a 39-year old fitter and turner killed his Italian born mother and father, again for money. No major headlines, no intense media interest and no "walking tours of their Altona" as there were of Wales-King Armadale.

Makes you wonder about us doesn't it.

Year of Publication

In April 2002, wealthy socialite Margaret Wales-King and her husband Paul King left their home in a leafy eastern suburb, dined with her son and his family and then disappeared into thin air. Twenty-five days later, after an investigation that swamped the front pages, their bludgeoned bodies were found in a shallow bush grave just outside Melbourne.

The family's grief was on full public display as speculation raged about the possible culprit and rumours about drugs, gambling and kidnapping did the rounds. Then Margaret's youngest son, Matthew, was arrested for the murders and his wife, Maritza, was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. In his confession, Matthew was adamant that he wasn't after the substantial inheritance, but that he felt totally disempowered by his mother who had alienated him from his family. In his mind he believed he had no choice but to commit one of the most uncommon and unsettling of crimes - matricide.

What is it about this case that continued to dominate the media long after the confession? Was it the association with wealth? Was it the enigmatic Maritza, whose role in the murders attracted huge speculation? Or was it simply that nice men like Matthew aren't meant to kill their mothers? Melbourne barrister Hilary Bonney has immersed herself in the world of the Wales-Kings, closely following the investigation, the subsequent legal processes, and the surrounding media furore. Perhaps most fascinating of all, she examines the psychology of a killer whose chilling act rocked a family, a class and a city to its very core.

Review THE SOCIETY MURDERS - Hilary Bonney
Karen Chisholm
Tuesday, October 2, 2007

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