#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · Australian · Book Broadcast · non-fiction · true crime

Book Broadcast: Trace by Rachael Brown

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Book Broadcast is a post I have created to help ease the load of the books I have for review. It is a great way to spread the word, providing recognition to an author or publisher for sending me a book to review. As my reviewing and blogging duties have stepped up a notch in the last year, I don’t often have the time to complete an in depth review. I hope you can discover some new titles to read through this regular book post.


Every cop has a case that dug its claws in and would not let go. For veteran detective Ron trace smallIddles, it was his very first homicide case—the 1980 murder of single mother Maria James at the back of her bookshop. He never managed to solve it, and it still hurts like hell.

Maria’s two sons, Mark and Adam, have lived in a holding pattern longer than Rachael Brown has been alive. When the investigative journalist learned that a crucial witness’s evidence had never seen daylight, the case would start to consume her—just as it had the detective nearly four decades prior—so she asked for his blessing, and that of the James brothers, to review Maria’s case.

In her exhaustive and exhausting 16-month investigation for the podcast Trace, Rachael reviewed initial suspects, found one of her own, and uncovered devastating revelations about a forensic bungle and possible conspiracies that led to calls for the coroner to hold a new inquest.

This is a mesmerizing account, as Rachael traces back through her investigation—one that blew the dust off a 38-year-old cold case, and gave a voice to the forgotten and the abused.


Award winning investigative journalist Rachael Brown is the brainchild of Trace, a true crime podcast. Brown transfers her popular podcast to the page with her novel Trace.  Brown, along with the collaboration of detective Ron Iddles and the children of Maria James, a woman murdered in 1980, have conceived Trace. The cold case murder of Maria James, a bookshop owner who was killed by 68 stab wounds by an unidentified killer, is the principal subject of Trace. A series of podcasts based on the examination of this case, has brought new information to light and has worked to give a voice to Maria James, decades after her passing. True crime can be a perplexing area to base a novel on. Writers needs to achieve a careful balance between refraining from over fabricating the crime for shock value, to reporting hard facts, providing new information and respecting the victim, as well as their family. It is a hard task, but I can confirm that Rachael Brown succeeds in her delivery of the Maria James case. What I found incredibly riveting about this case is not only has it remained unsolved, it was stands out as a complete frenzied attack. Brown’s resulting investigations have exposed errors in evidence and forensics, as well as regrettable cover-ups. What surprised me about this investigation was the corruption links to the Catholic Church and the Australian Police. As this case has been reopened and is ongoing, do not expect a straightforward conclusion to this murder, rather, plenty of questions and theories are served up. We can only hope Trace works towards delivering  a sense of justice and closure for the James family, as well as those who have worked tirelessly to crack this case. Trace is a novel I recommend to fans of podcasts and true crime.

Trace by Rachael Brown was published by Scribe Publications on July 30th 2018. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

Trace, is book #102 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge

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2 thoughts on “Book Broadcast: Trace by Rachael Brown

  1. Oh, this sounds a bit different to what I normally read, actually a whole lot different but it’s peeking my interest. I’ll have to remember to add this one to my ‘want to read’ shelf on Goodreads or just add it to my TBR list lol. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

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