The Fatal Flaw

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Penguin Random House Australia, Jul 1, 2011 - History - 292 pages
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Norfolk Island, Easter Sunday, 2002 ... the first murder in 150 years and everyone is a suspect ...

Easter Sunday, 2002. On sleepy Norfolk Island, the faithful are returning from morning service at St Barnabas Chapel, while tourists prepare for another day of sightseeing and shopping. Janelle Patton has just finished her breakfast shift as restaurant manager at the Castaway Hotel. A few hours later, she will be found dead, her mutilated body covered in black plastic and hidden near a waterfall on the other side of the island. It is the first murder here in 150 years and everyone is a suspect.

The killing of Janelle Patton exposes a dark undercurrent in a community that prides itself on friendliness and upstanding moral values. The locals are fiercely protective of each other and suspicious of strangers. The police carry out an exercise unique in criminal history - the mass fingerprinting of more than 1200 people who were on the island when the murder took place - yet they fail to find the killer. Islanders deny there is a conspiracy of silence, but few will talk on the record.

Four years on, a man is arrested in New Zealand. Detectives have found evidence linking the killing of Janelle Patton to Glenn McNeill, a chef who was working on the island at the time of her death. But the drama is only just beginning. How could a devoted husband and father with two small children be capable of such an horrendous crime? Can McNeill be guaranteed a fair trial on an island where ancestral loyalties go back to the mutiny on the Bounty? How can the court select an impartial jury from a population of around only 1500 people?

In March 2007, the verdict is handed down: guilty. But will the mystery surrounding the brutal slaying of the young Sydney hotel worker ever be satisfactorily explained? Roger Maynard's book is the definitive account of this fascinating murder mystery, based on his own research conducted on Norfolk Island over the past five years and close examination of the committal proceedings and subsequent trial. He looks at McNeill's background in New Zealand and includes interviews with people who knew him well. Like Maynard's investigations into the backpacker murders and the disappearance of Peter Falconio, The Fatal Flaw is a riveting read.

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About the author (2011)

Roger Maynard has spent nearly four decades working as a journalist and foreign corrrespondent. After starting his career in local newspapers in Britain he joined the BBC as a reporter and worked extensively for radio and television in the UK, including four years on Radio Four's flagship current affairs program Today.

Since making his home in Australia in l987 he has worked as Sydney correspondent for The Times, The Guardian, ITN and CNBC Asia. He has covered many of the world's top stories including the crisis in East Timor, the Three Mile Island nuclear scare, the clash between the Rainbow Warrior and the French navy in the Pacific, and the Tampa affair. For many years he was London correspondent for a chain of Australian radio stations including 2UE in Sydney, 6PR in Perth and 4BC in Brisbane, and has reported on general elections in Britain and Australia.

His interviewees have included John Howard, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, Margaret Thatcher, Charlton Heston, Omar Sharif, Richard Branson, Jeffrey Archer and countless other big names. Maynard is author of MILAT, the best-selling book about the serial killer responsible for the horrific backpacker murders, Where's Peter?, an exhaustive investigation into the events surrounding the disappearance of Peter Falconio in the remote outback, and Life At The Top, a portrait of some of Australia's best known business leaders.

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