*Thanks for the free book, Crown Publishing; it’s my pleasure to be a part of your monthly book send programme and provide honest reviews for the titles chosen*
As is evident from the title, this book may contain triggers for some people.
Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists tell the riveting true story of Marie, a teenager who was charged with lying about having been raped, and the detectives who followed a winding path to arrive at the truth.
On August 11, 2008, eighteen-year-old Marie reported that a masked man broke into her apartment near Seattle, Washington, and raped her. Within days police and even those closest to Marie became suspicious of her story. The police swiftly pivoted and began investigating Marie. Confronted with inconsistencies in her story and the doubts of others, Marie broke down and said her story was a lie—a bid for attention. Police charged Marie with false reporting, and she was branded a liar.
More than two years later, Colorado detective Stacy Galbraith was assigned to investigate a case of sexual assault. Describing the crime to her husband that night, Galbraith learned that the case bore an eerie resemblance to a rape that had taken place months earlier in a nearby town. She joined forces with the detective on that case, Edna Hendershot, and the two soon discovered they were dealing with a serial rapist: a man who photographed his victims, threatening to release the images online, and whose calculated steps to erase all physical evidence suggested he might be a soldier or a cop. Through meticulous police work the detectives would eventually connect the rapist to other attacks in Colorado—and beyond.
Based on investigative files and extensive interviews with the principals, A False Report is a serpentine tale of doubt, lies, and a hunt for justice, unveiling the disturbing truth of how sexual assault is investigated today—and the long history of skepticism toward rape victims.
Upon finishing A False Report, I had to take some time and reflect back on all that I’d read. Sometimes, when I read books such as this one, I immediately want to give it a five-star rating and the highest praise due to the courage displayed by the survivors.
“All I did was survive, and I was criminalized for it.”
I struggled with this book review, because I struggled with several aspects of this book; I worried that elements that didn’t work for me would be misconstrued, so firstly, let me be absolutely clear – I am in no way taking anything away from the strong women who survived a truly horrific experience, and I admire their bravery in allowing their experiences to be shared.
Regarding the way this book is written, I struggled to connect with the writing style and the chosen tone. From the opening page, to the very last, this book is told in a very “matter-of-fact” way and, for me, it lacked emotion. This book contains sexual abuse statistics, and a lot of background information on how certain things came into being, for example, rape kits and police databases. While this information was interesting, combined with the tone of the writing, made this read like an academic textbook at times.
I really wanted to love this book, as harrowing a subject as it was, because I think books like this are important for raising awareness and can act as a cataylst for change; most important of all, they are a platform for the survivor’s voices to be heard. And I think a lot of that comes from the emotion one feels when they read books like this, the outrage at such a crime, the failing of a police force, the treatment of victims – this ignites emotions, highlights the flaws in humanity and creates a desire for a better way of doing things. However, a lot of this was lost by the tone and way this book was narrated. I know I keep mentioning the tone, but for me personally, it weakened the “voice” of these women, in the sense that I lost the emotional connection.
In a book such as this, you are always going to be somewhat effected, so I won’t lie and say this book had no impact on me at all, it was just not the book I thought it would be. I would like to end this review by highlighting the positive – I take nothing away from these women or their experiences, their strength and courage; also, this book shows there are some very strong and dedicated police officers who work extremely hard to achieve justice. It’s evident this book has been well-researched and I appreciated the ‘Acknowledgements’ at the end, as two male authors wrote this book, it was good to see who they consulted during the journey to publication.