Book Buzz
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About the book | About the author | From the author | Advance praise | Publicity and marketing campaign | Sample chapter | Reading copy giveaway


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.


About the book About the book

Every cop has a case that dug its claws in and would not let go. For veteran detective Ron Iddles, it was his very first homicide case—the 1980 murder of single mother Maria James in the back of her Melbourne bookshop. He never managed to solve it, and it still grates like hell.

Maria’s two sons, Mark and Adam, have lived in a holding pattern longer than Rachael Brown has been alive. When the investigative journalist learned that a crucial witness’s evidence had never seen daylight, the case would start to
​consume her—just as it had the detective nearly four decades prior—so she asked for his blessing, and that of the James brothers, to review Maria’s case.

In Rachael’s exhaustive and exhausting 16-month investigation for the ABC podcast, she reviewed initial suspects, found one of her own, and uncovered devastating revelations about a forensic bungle and possible conspiracies that led to calls for the coroner to hold a new inquest.

This is a mesmerising account, as Rachael traces back through her investigation—one that blew the dust off a 38-year-old cold case, gave a voice to the forgotten and the abused, and could have serious implications for two of the state’s most powerful institutions.


About the author About the author

Rachael Brown is a broadcast journalist. In 2002, after graduating from RMIT, she began her career with the ABC, where she has held several postings, including Europe correspondent from 2010 to 2013. In 2008, she won her first Walkley Award, for Best Radio Current Affairs Report. Rachael was the creator, investigator, and host of the ABC’s first true-crime podcast, Trace, which won the 2017 Walkley Award for Innovation. The podcast also won two 2017 Quill Awards: for Innovation, and for Best Podcast. Rachael lives in Melbourne, Victoria.

From the author

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.


Advance praise

‘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


Publicity and marketing campaign

  • Author will be a guest at writers’ festivals and major events
  • A major national marketing and publicity campaign
  • Coverage in national radio, magazines and newspapers
  • Strong social media campaign including dedicated Facebook posts and advertising
  • Advertisements in bookseller newsletters and catalogues


Sample chapter

Read the opening chapter of Trace here.


Reading copy giveaway

For your chance to receive an advance copies of Trace, email with ‘Trace ARC’ in the subject line. The first 10 people to respond will win a copy.





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