Steve's Reviews > The Cruel City: Is Adelaide the Murder Capital of Australia?

The Cruel City by Stephen Orr
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's review
Jan 22, 12

bookshelves: anybody-any-book-club
Read from January 19 to 22, 2012

This is a horrible little book - in the sense that is filled with gut churning descriptions of some of the infamous crime that has occurred in the beautiful city of Adelaide. It's not the sort of book that one can say is "enjoyable". But fascinating it is - and truly horrific. I've only given this book three stars because the author, who is a fiction writer, seems to try too hard, at times, to use sensational rhetoric and conjecture to make his stories intriguing. But when he does this, it makes his story telling sound naive and superficial. The facts of these cases don't need any embellishment. They stand on there own as unbelievably sensational and horrific and I won't be rereading this book again! I have read far better books on one of the cases - the so-called Snowtown murders - that provide a much better, more nuanced analysis of the possible sociological and psychological precursors to that particular series of crimes. But for someone who wants a quick survey of some of the sensational crimes occurring in Adelaide, I suppose this is a good introduction. But you need a pretty strong stomach to endure the book to the end.

Another aspect of the book I didn't like is the way the author characterises Adelaide as somehow a unique "cruel city" throughout his story telling - but then, in a brief chapter at the end of the book, shows how these sorts of crimes occur everywhere - no city is immune.

So, while the book was fascinating and compelling, overall, I think it suffers from a lack of true depth in grappling with some of the questions that need to be asked - and inevitably do get asked - when these sorts of things happening. The biggest question - Why? - seems to have no real answer in the end. How these people could carry out such "evil" crimes with complete disregard for the humanity of their victims is a complete mystery.

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Nomie (new) - added it

Nomie I thought this sounded interesting when I saw that you were reading it but now I've read your review I have changed my mind and I won't bother.

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