Getting Away With Murder By Duncan Mcnab: Book's Review and Summary

Getting Away With Murder by Duncan McNab

Getting Away With Murder by Duncan McNab

Duncan McNab is a former police detective and investigative journalist who has spent more than 30 years working in both fields. His latest work, Getting Away With Murder, is a deep dive into some of the most intriguing and high-profile unsolved murders in Australian history, from the brutal killing of young Jane Thurgood-Dove to the mysterious death of businessman Michael McGurk.

In this book, McNab uses his extensive investigative experience to explore the circumstances and motives behind each case, and to shed light on the complex web of relationships and events that led to these crimes. He also delves into the often-flawed police investigations that followed, highlighting the missed opportunities and crucial mistakes that allowed some killers to escape justice.

Main Themes and Ideas

One of the main themes of Getting Away With Murder is the idea that justice is not always served, and that some killers are able to evade punishment due to a combination of luck, skill, and the failings of the justice system. McNab’s investigations uncover a range of motives for these killings, from jealousy and revenge to greed and betrayal. He also shows how the killers themselves often become trapped in a web of lies and deception as they try to cover their tracks, and how the weight of guilt can ultimately bring them undone.

Another important theme that emerges from the book is the role of the media in shaping public opinion and influencing the outcomes of criminal trials. McNab exposes the ways in which sensationalist reporting and biased coverage can distort the facts of a case and sway the jury in one direction or another. He also shows how media attention can sometimes work to the advantage of the killer, by creating confusion or turning public sympathy in their favor.

Critical Evaluation of the Writing Style

As a seasoned investigative journalist, McNab is a skilled storyteller with a talent for weaving together complex narratives and making them accessible to a broad audience. His writing is clear and engaging, and he takes care to introduce each case with enough detail to pique the reader’s interest without overwhelming them with information.

One of the strengths of McNab’s writing is his ability to bring the personalities and motivations of the key players to life. He paints vivid portraits of the victims, the killers, and the investigators, and shows how their individual quirks and flaws contributed to the unfolding of each story. He also incorporates a range of source material, from police reports to trial transcripts to interviews with key witnesses and experts, to build a comprehensive and nuanced picture of each case.

One weakness of the book is that, at times, it can feel overwhelming in its scope. With so many cases to cover and so much ground to cover, some readers may find themselves struggling to keep track of the different timelines and characters. However, this is a minor quibble, and overall, McNab’s writing is informative, compelling, and highly readable.

Comparison to Other Works in its Genre

Getting Away With Murder is a solid entry in the true crime genre, offering a detailed and engaging exploration of some of the most perplexing unsolved cases in Australian history. In terms of style and tone, it shares much in common with other popular true crime books, such as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me. However, McNab’s background as a police officer and investigative journalist gives him a unique perspective on the cases he covers, and his writing reflects this combination of insider knowledge and journalistic rigour.

Compared to other works in the genre, Getting Away With Murder stands out for its emphasis on both the crimes themselves and the often-flawed investigations that followed. McNab does not shy away from exposing the shortcomings of the justice system, and he is critical of both the police and the courts when they fail to deliver justice for the victims and their families. He also does an excellent job of humanising the people involved in each case, showing the toll that these tragedies took on individuals and communities.

Overall Impression and Recommendation

In my opinion, Getting Away With Murder is a highly engaging and thought-provoking book that provides a valuable insight into the complexities of criminal investigations and the limitations of the justice system. McNab’s writing is clear and compelling, and he succeeds in bringing each case to life with a level of detail that is impressive without being overwhelming. While the book can be challenging at times, due to the sheer number of cases covered, I found it to be a rewarding and enlightening read overall.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in true crime or criminal justice, especially those who are looking for a fresh perspective on some of Australia’s most fascinating unsolved cases. It is a must-read for fans of the genre, and a testament to McNab’s skills as an investigative journalist and author.


Can I read this book even if I’m not familiar with Australian history or culture?

Absolutely! While some knowledge of Australian geography and politics may be helpful in understanding the context of the crimes, McNab does an excellent job of providing background information where necessary. The focus of the book is on the crimes themselves and the investigations that followed, rather than on the broader social or historical context.

Are there any graphic or disturbing details in the book?

Yes, some of the crimes described in the book are violent and gruesome in nature, and McNab does not shy away from detailing some of the more graphic aspects of these cases. However, he handles these details with sensitivity and does not resort to gratuitous descriptions simply to shock or sensationalize the material. If you are sensitive to descriptions of violence or trauma, you may want to approach the book with caution or skip certain chapters.

Is there a particular order in which I should read the cases?

Not necessarily. While the cases are presented in chronological order, each chapter is self-contained and can be read independently of the others. That being said, some readers may find it helpful to read the book in order, as this will allow them to follow the evolution of McNab’s investigations and the development of his insights and conclusions over time.

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