The taking of a human life is an irreconcilable offence against families, society and natural order. This account tries to uncover meaning in the mindless murder of 19-year-old Rebecca Ryle, a student who only wanted to care for children, the sick and the elderly. Her family had left the UK, seeking a better life in Perth, Western Australia in 2003.
Within six months that new life was destroyed forever when Rebecca's body was found in the grounds of a local school, not far from their front door.
The author, a political columnist, was 23 at the time and had just returned from teaching in Seoul. He loathed the banality of suburbia. But he had unique insight into the residual 'bigotry, boredom and violence' that stemmed from the local high school. His brother, Cameron, had known the man charged with the murder, from school. Ex-pat, 19-year old James Duggan had been embroiled for a long time in violence and drugs, Cameron and he shared mutual friends, but were enemies themselves. Martin McKenzie-Murray felt the macabre numbness at Rebecca's funeral and afterwards began to write about collective elements of the tragedy. He put his aspirational journalistic notes away for eight years, but the murder haunted him, and by the time he decided to write a book that did justice to Rebecca, he found that his initial impulse about the suburban 'Badlands' had traction.
The murder made no sense, it mystified investigators, lawyers and psychologists. McKenzie-Murray becomes involved with the victim's family and explores how the justice system helps to unravel the mysteries of evil in an effort to bring some meaning to the bereaved. He has a vivid story-telling style which makes this true crime seem almost unreal.