Buy a copy of the book here.

A review of my book in the Sydney Morning Herald:

PICK OF THE WEEK
WHAT THE MOTHER KNEW
By Edmund Tadros
Fairfax Books, 160pp, $29.95

We have become so used to faux gruesome murders on television cop and crime shows that recounting the details of a real murder can seem almost pallid and uninspiring by comparison.

In this account of the murder of Jody Galante, Herald journalist Edmund Tadros (whom I have never met) has realised the problem posed by television and opts for an unusual and effective technique.

Tell the story as a straight, chronological description of events. Provide transcripts of proceedings and, in an unusual form of flashback, interweave unfolding events with childhood memories. Don’t embellish, psychologise or theorise. Let the drama, with all its nuances and subtleties, unfold as an unfiltered piece of reality.

The challenge of this kind of “verite” writing is sustaining a sense of drama, particularly when all the reader has to do is look at the title, look carefully at Steven Siewert’s dramatic cover image or read the back-cover blurb, which declares: “What drives a man to kill his wife in cold blood?” to know how the book’s narrative is resolved. The technique adopted by Tadros, which works superbly, is to create a situation in which both the reader and Jody’s mother become convinced, long before the evidence is gathered and the murderer confesses, that the killer is Mark Galante. It’s a variation on the literary device known as dramatic irony: the reader knows who the killer is but the police are still investigating. The reader becomes engrossed in the story as the police build their case.

This is a beautifully written account of a murder. It is genuinely original in its approach and suitably circumspect in its conclusions. The way it weaves interviews with family members, transcripts of internet chat rooms, snippets of dialogue, police press releases and a note written by Mark Galante into a compelling narrative gives the story a powerful momentum. But don’t expect a neat televisual conclusion. Tadros admits at the end of the book that no one, with any certainty, knows exactly why Mark Galante killed his wife.

BRUCE ELDER

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On January 7, 2006, pregnant mother-of-one Jody Galante was reported missing by her husband Mark. A week later Jody’s body was found in bushland at Bilpin, in the Blue Mountains. She had died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Police investigated the murder and made an arrest in March 2006. The case came to a conclusion in April 2008.

I covered this story for The Sydney Morning Herald from when it was a missing person’s inquiry and have written a book about the investigation. Visit the book website here.

January 10, 2006: Woman vanishes in market mystery

January 12, 2006: Silence meets missing mother plea

January 17, 2006: Missing mother Jody murdered

January 25, 2006: I’d never hurt her says husband

March 2, 2006: A wave then accused wife killer led to cells

April 11, 2008: My daughter’s killer: I held his hand

November 16, 2008: Honours for catchers of wife-killer

BOOK EXCERPT: Blood, tears and lies