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A Murder Without Motive: the Killing of Rebecca Ryle

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  253 ratings  ·  30 reviews
In 2004, the body of a young Perth woman was found on the grounds of a primary school. Her name was Rebecca Ryle. The killing would mystify investigators, lawyers, and psychologists – and profoundly rearrange the life of the victim's family.

It would also involve the author’s family, because his brother knew the man charged with the murder. For years, the two had circled ea
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 27th 2016 by Scribe Publications
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3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  253 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
A very personal look at a senseless crime

My View:
A very personal look at a senseless crime.

A community in shock, two families’ lives for ever changed; a teenager the victim of a senseless murder, her death impacting on the psyche of those who knew her, those who were in her orbit and even those who knew her only because of the media attention surrounding her death. The murder of Rebecca Ryle was to have a profound influence on so many including the young man soon to be journalist Martin McKenzie
Jan 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: casual readers of true crime
More an author memoir than true crime, A Murder Without Motive: the killing of Rebecca Ryle is not what I expected - in a bad way. Rather than writing a book about the murder, investigation, court room battles, and interviews with subject matter experts close to the crime, the author launched a self indulgent tirade which lacked relevance to the subject matter and bored this reader with a tale of a stock standard middle-income male growing up in suburbia, moving away then boasting an intellectua ...more
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I want to preface this review by saying that I am an enormous fan of Martin McKenzie-Murray. I routinely dive into his columns in The Saturday Paper, and like many Victorians, enjoyed his eloquent prose via former Chief Police Commissioner, Ken Lay. He is, in fact, one of my favourite Australian commentators on matters of policy and current affairs (this absolutely slam dunk piece on family violence being a prime example:

So, it is with a heavy heart th
Michael Livingston
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful book that belies its generic title, McKenzie-Murray artfully blends memoir and sociological theorising with a clear and insightful discussion of an utterly senseless murder. Even with the best of intentions, there were times where this all felt a bit ghoulish, but I guess that's impossible to avoid. Perfect length for a Sydney->Melbourne flight too - I finished it right as we got to the gate.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm a fan of the author from his writing in The Saturday Paper: he always brings a fresh and considered perspective to whatever topic and he's certainly drawn to the dark stuff. A brave and sensitive account and analysis of a senseless crime, and it read as something he needed to get out of his system, having grown up in the parts of Perth where this happened. It was refreshing to read a bloke take on toxic masculinity too. I am keen to see what he does next.
Derek Pedley
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The cookie-cutter title belies the true worth of this masterful debut, which blends memoir with police procedural, to create a unique and compelling portrait of the origins and consequences of a suburban murder.

The author’s coincidental connection to a killer lures him into the story of 19-year-old Rebecca Ryle and her murder, just metres from home, in 2004. McKenzie-Murray delivers a deeply insightful - and personal - exploration of the banal and often dangerous teenage culture in Perth’s nort
May 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
There were a few things about this book that prevented me from giving it a higher rating. Firstly, whilst I don't mind it when an author includes himself in the story, I felt that in this case, the author overstepped the mark and just rambled on too much about his past life and experiences. Yes, he lived in the area where the victim, her family, and the murdrerer lived. And yes, his brother was an acquaintance with the murderer. But the endless reflection on the setting, its occupants and the ov ...more
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reviews
Murder Without Motive: The Killing of Rebecca Ryle is right out of the Helen Garner and Janet Malcolm school of true crime reportage. It looks at the case of Rebecca Ryle, a 19-year-old British immigrant, who was found murdered in the grounds of a primary school opposite her family home in Perth, Western Australia, in 2004, and places that crime in a wider social context. Why did the man who was charged with her murder, 19-year-old James Duggan, do it? And what was the effect on Rebecca’s family ...more
Belinda Missen
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well there you go, a bit of creative non-fiction, I guess.

This was a really different book on a few levels. I picked it out simply because it looked interesting, was 'non-fiction', and I was looking to read more from that pile this year.

On another level, this read as more of a personal memoir of the author trying to work out what happened, as opposed to a straight up and down telling of the facts. Good and bad, I guess. Was I particularly interested in the author's life? No, but he was able to
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australian, crime
I've enjoyed M-M's journalism in The Saturday Paper, published in Melbourne. This is his first book and it is an outstanding debut.
He explores the many facets surrounding the murder of a young woman, Rebecca Ryle, in 2004 in a northern suburb of Perth. M-M grew up near where the murder took place and was loosely connected with some of the people involved - everyone knew everyone - or others like them, in the area.
This story gathers power from the author's personal connection because it is, in pa
Edward Rush
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it
I am from Perth and escaped to Melbourne as soon as I was able. I loved the city in my childhood for its brazen light (if McKenzie-Murray didn't use this term, it was something like this) and wild streak, but it was also a very rough place to be if you didn't fit into the bigoted mainstream. When I made it over East in 1991, I kissed the ground. Life had started.

I was fascinated by the prospect of this story. A young woman gets murdered by an aimless young bloke in the wind blasted northern subu
Sean Kennedy
Feb 08, 2016 rated it liked it
(3.5 / 5)

Some people may be disappointed in this book, thinking that it is your usual true crime rehash of gory details and torture porn. It isn't. It's more of a memoir, of someone associated on the periphery of the killer and his friends, and how this case haunts him until he contacts the family and wants to talk to them about writing a book. As such, the author often inserts himself into the book, sometimes successfully and sometimes not (when it becomes a little egocentric). I could have don
Hilary Campbell
Mar 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
Proposed re-write of the blurb: "A white middle-class dude bro writes a self-indulgent memoir using every ten dollar word he knows under the guise of writing about a horrific murder that destroyed a family."
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it

4.5 Stars!

I had never heard of this case before, but I was drawn to it having spent some time in Perth and WA. The author’s analysis and assessment of Perth’s northern suburbs is absolutely spot on and had me smiling in recognition.

There are a few times when this seems to be as much about the author as the victim, when he goes on for many pages about his adolescence, but this is actually relevant, as it is in context and gives us insight to the area that he would have inhabited at the same as t
Amy Mcquire
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Beautifully written insight into the grief of losing a child. I had a few complaints, but they are mostly to do with my own personal interests. I felt the book was lacking in that there was no access to Duggan. I didn't feel like we knew enough about him to even begin to understand, but that's not the author's fault. I also felt there could have been a better examination into policing in Western Australia - particularly the bit about Duggan's confession. Overall though, amazing book and definite ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be more about the author and his life and I found it jumped around a lot I also found he wrote about things that had nothing to do with the murder case I found this book to be very boring
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
it was an enjoyable read
True Crime writing seems, to this outside observer, to be a minefield of complications. Personal connections to a real crime event, either of the victim, the perpetrator, or community can create a situation that authors must carefully negotiate. Because of this it does seem that true crime structure either takes a particularly fact based / no conclusions drawn approach, or steps into a very personal viewpoint. Martin McKenzie-Murray grew up in the same neighbourhood as Rebecca Ryle, his brother ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
This is more in the Helen Garner mode than the police procedural type of true crime book. Partly because it wasn't a difficult crime to solve (police picked up the guy last seen with her the next day, and had evidence he did it very soon after), and partly because the author is more interested in how people survive such a devastating loss.

I was worried when I saw this included the author's memories of the time and place this happened, but it's not self-indulgent at all. He confines himself to t
Amra Pajalic
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ozauthor
ost true crime books are about the murder of an innocent and the plot is concerned with the motive. The victim acts as a plot device, but in his memoir A Murder Without Motive Martin McKenzie-Murray does something different.

The focus of his book is not on the why, because that is never clear, but on the how. How does a family deal with the aftermath of the brutal murder of their daughter, 50 metres from their doorstep and by someone in their community?

This was a beautifully written memoir that p
Kate Wild
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in a day, staying up until midnight to finish it. From the very first sentence to the last I was completely engaged in this (true) story. I don't think I've cried that hard in a really long time. Thank you to the author for writing this, a very perceptive, thought-provoking and ultimately kind and respectful story about a very loved girl and her family. I lived for two years in the northern corridor of Perth where this story took place and so it resonated with me on several leve ...more
Jun 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was less a police procedural than a meditation on the unknowables of crime. As McKenzie-Murray himself admits, "The reader might demand the pleasures of resolution. But the Ryles work with accepting its opposite."

And though the author's endless self-reflection leans at times towards the distracting, the end result is a thoroughly fair exploration of a murder and its consequent bereavement.
Melissa Kirkman
Jan 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways, true-crime
I was looking forward to this book, being a true crime novel but it wasn't really my thing. It was really well written but I found it had too much fluff about community and how they influence kids etc etc etc. I just wanted to read the story!!

As I said though, it is very well written - just not my cup of tea.
Apr 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
A fairly pedestrian study of events surrounding a Perth murder & the repercussions to the family. I think the author was trying for a 'Joe Cinque..' (Helen Garner) but falls way short of the mark. His sensitive handling of, & obviously genuine relationship with the victims family are the only bits that rise above the level of a university paper or Sunday paper cultural expose.
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's hard not to compare A Murder Without Motive to Helen Garner's fabulous procedural memoirs. It's not on par with Joe Cinque's Consolation, but it certainly gets close. Eloquent, thoughtful and engaging.
Peter Franklin
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting mix of the description of a murder together with the impact
on the family of the victim. Included aspects of authors life living in the same area. Sometimes wondered if some aspects were needed.
Timothy Webb
rated it liked it
Feb 12, 2018
rated it it was ok
Oct 16, 2017
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