Monday, March 5, 2007

How do you like your horror stories, fiction or fact?

Joe Cinque’s Consolation – A True Story of Death, Grief and the Law.
Author: Helen Garner
Publisher: Macmillian Publishers New Zealand Limited

It is the stuff horror movies are made of. A talented young law student hosts a dinner party to murder her loving boyfriend. Those invited have heard rumours of the plan but no one intervenes or warns the unsuspecting victim. After a weekend of being fed a lethal cocktail of Heroin and Rephonol, the boyfriend lies dead in a pool of his own vomit and blood, the girlfriend and her best friend charged with his torturous murder.

Except this is no horror movie. Joe Cinque’s Consolation by Helen Garner is the all too true story of an abhorrent crime that occurred in October 1997, captivating and outraging the Australian public. Novelist and journalist Garner follows the separate trials of the two accused; Anu Singh, the enigmatic, beautiful woman accused of killing her dedicated boyfriend Joe Cinque; and her best friend and accomplice in murder, the mousey and blindly loyal Madhavi Rao.

From the moment you turn the first page of this book, you are held firmly in its grasp not only by the shocking manner of the murder itself, but also by the disaffection exhibited by those who knew what was planned to take place and did nothing to stop it - either because of selfishly not wanting to be involved or because they couldn’t quite believe the murder would be committed.

Another absorbing aspect of the book is the honest, moving and respectful way Helen Garner deals with Joe Cinque’s family. Torn apart by grief and a brutal act they cannot understand committed by a woman they had invited into their family, they endure the trials with the utmost dignity. They allow Garner to explore the overwhelming impact such a crime can have on those left to deal with its aftermath.

Joe Cinque’s Consolation by Helen Garner is a real life horror story, a tribute to the charming young man who had the misfortune of loving Anu Singh - the woman who would orchestrate his death - and a crime to challenge your beliefs on the distance between moral responsibility and the law.

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