THE FACE WITHOUT A NAME: FINDING JANE DOE
Norm Lipson & Adam Walters

 


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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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