Park Street Press, Aug 2007
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith
THE FACE WITHOUT A NAME: FINDING JANE DOE is a true crime story that
traces the case of a young woman murdered in Sydney late in 1991. Her body
remained unidentified for a number of months. Following an American
tradition, she became known as Jane Doe. It was to be a case crucial to
the career of a young detective senior constable handling his first
homicide investigation. There were some significant developments in
fingerprinting techniques and in the production of identikit-style images
of the deceased.
The book recounts the story of the discovery of the body, the steps taken
to identify it, the final break-through, and then the eventual tracing of
the murderer and his extradition back to Australia. Written by two Sydney
journalists, THE FACE WITHOUT A NAME: FINDING JANE DOE also contains an
epilogue by the detective in charge of the investigation, now a detective
superintendent. The final chapter is the judge's summing up as he
delivered his verdict.
A rather "no-frills" account, it will be popular with those who look for
something in this genre that is easy to read and yet factually accurate.
It seems to rely to a considerable extent on accounts written by the
detective, newspaper reports, and witness statements. There is a liberal
use of images, police photographs, and catchy chapter titles. The chapters
themselves are short, which, together with the style in which they are
written, contributes to the book's readability.
In my opinion, the book glosses over, a little too quickly, the four years
after his extradition that it took to convict the murderer. It also refers
only fleetingly to the fact that there were three trials. In an attempt to
give credit to the persistence of the detective who headed investigation,
it seems not to give enough importance to the accidental break through
that led to the final conviction.
Authors Norm Lipson and Adam Walters are New South Wales based journalists
with over sixty-five years of reporting experience between them. This is
the fifth book they have co-authored.
First published in Murder and Mayhem, July 2007
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