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Scribe Publications is thrilled to be publishing Trace by Rachael Brown in August 2018. This book is the riveting inside story of a journalist’s cold-case investigation of a shocking murder. It is page-turning true crime by an award-winning Australian journalist.
The Trace investigation into the 1980 murder of Maria James began with a niggle. A best friend and colleague told me a crucial witness statement in this cold case had never seen daylight. Just who this witness saw, sent me on a 16-month crawl through the darkest of rabbit-holes, trying to find answers that have eluded Maria’s sons for 38 years. Was she murdered by a scorned lover? Or a stranger? Or was her murder tied up in the sins of the Catholic Church?
I was convinced this story would be better first served as a podcast series, because I desperately hoped the innovative interactivity, and the medium’s diverse audiences, might help the James brothers uncover whoever’s holding the missing puzzle piece. So in the ABC’s first true-crime podcast, Trace, I stepped listeners through my investigation, and emails flooded in with fresh leads. But the constraints of this medium (such as 30-minute episode lengths) also meant a lot went unsaid, ideas better explored on the printed page.
My book Trace details the anatomy of this meticulous investigation that could inspire the coroner to reopen Maria James’ inquest. Through the dead-ends and discoveries, the tears and the triumphs, I show readers the gritty toll on all those caught up in this case. On the family that lives in a holding pattern. On sex abuse survivors who bravely share their nightmares, hoping it might unmask the killer. And on the veteran detective, who this case consumed, just as it has me. Remarkably, despite the darkness, or maybe because of it, this book also says a lot about hope and humanity’s warmth.
‘What grit, what faithfulness! It’s enthralling to track Brown’s stubborn little lantern as she forges into these dark forests.’—Helen Garner
‘There is an irresistible formula to Trace. The bright-eyed investigative journalist teamed with the dogged homicide detective enjoined in the dark art of enquiry—discerning the outline of evidence then calculating the in-between. The experience of Trace reaches beyond a murder mystery to the interior of the craft—10 parts exhaustion and exasperation to one part excitement and enlightenment.’—Chris Masters
‘Trace the podcast is a tour de force of investigation and storytelling against the odds.Trace the book is the story behind the story. Compelling listening turned into compulsory reading.’—Andrew Rule
Read the opening chapter of Trace here.
For your chance to receive an advance copies of Trace, email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Trace ARC’ in the subject line. The first 10 people to respond will win a copy.
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