23 December 2023

Review: THE UNBELIEVED, Vikki Petraitis

  •  this edition an e-book on Libby made available through my local library
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allen & Unwin; 1st edition (2 August 2022)
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1761067397
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1761067396 
  • Winner of the inaugural Allen & Unwin Crime Prize.

Synopsis (publisher)

'So you believed the alleged rapists over the alleged victim?' Jane's voice took on an indignant pitch.
'Girls lie sometimes.'
I nodded.
'And rapists lie all the time.'

When Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves to the coastal town of Deception Bay, she is still in shock and grief. Back in Melbourne, one of her cases had gone catastrophically wrong, and to escape the guilt and the haunting memories, she'd requested a transfer to the quiet town she'd grown up in.

But there are some things you can't run from. A month into her new life, she is targeted by a would-be rapist at the pub, and realises why there have been no convictions following a spate of similar sexual attacks in the surrounding district. The male witnesses in the pub back her attacker and even her boss doesn't believe her.

Hers is the first reported case in Deception Bay, but soon there are more. As Antigone searches for answers, she encounters a wall of silence in the town built of secrets and denial and fear. The women of Deception Bay are scared and the law is not on their side. The nightmare has followed her home.

Chilling, timely and gripping, The Unbelieved takes us behind the headlines to a small-town world that is all too real - and introduces us to a brilliant new voice in crime fiction.  

My Take

My first outing with Vikki Petraitis, probably not my last, although her usual genre, true crime, is not generally my cup of tea. So I hope she gives Senior Detective Antigone Pollard another outing.

The Prologue describes a situation 10 years earlier when an apparent murder-suicide is discovered. Later this case will serve to show how ill equipped the cops in a small town are to solve such cases, how ready they are to accept the obvious.

Antigone Pollard comes to the town she grew up in to escape a situation in Melbourne that went horribly wrong. Now she has to make herself again, in a town where the young men think they can do whatever they like, spike drinks, rape women, and so on, and never be caught. Even the police station is very male dominated, although Antigone's partner Wozza is a blessing in disguise, mainly because, as the father of 3 daughters, he sees the world differently. Almost on her first night in the town, at the pub, Antigone has her drink spiked, and then is attacked in the car park. When she takes the perpetrator back to the station she finds her version of events questioned by her boss.

Petraitis writes with great assurance. In the view she gives of small town policing, she reminds me very much of Garry Disher.

Another review to read

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Vikki Petraitis has made a name for herself writing about Australian true crime.
THE UNBELIEVED is her first crime fiction novel 

Vikki Petraitis is best known for her true crime books including the bestselling book The Frankston Murders about serial killer Paul Denyer, and her first book, The Phillip Island Murder, which has been featured in several TV shows and podcasts. In her true crime books, Vikki has covered everything from police dogs to Lawyer X, the Russell Street bombing and sex crimes. Her expertise lies in interviewing police and victims to create compelling narratives. In recent years, Vikki has made two hugely successful podcast series with Casefile Presents, which have topped charts around the world and been downloaded millions of times. She is now working with the Casefile team developing new true crime projects. Vikki began a PhD in Creative Writing at La Trobe University in 2017 in order to continue to expand her writing skills. She brought thirty years of true crime writing and investigating to create her first work of fiction, The Unbelieved. In a parallel career, Vikki is also a teacher with a Master's degree in IT Education. She runs creative writing workshops and short courses in schools and local libraries. She is also a popular presenter, well-known for her compelling true crime talks and keynote addresses.

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