Anne Bonny #BlogTour Death Of An Actress Q&A with #Author Antony M Brown @ccjury & #Extract #TrueCrime #NewRelease #NonFiction @TheMirrorBooks #DeathOfAnActress Sex, lies & Murder on the high seas. . .

DEATH OF AN ACTRESS FC
Death Of An Actress by Antony M Brown
Synopsis:

Published in time for the 70th anniversary of one of the most dramatic trials in British criminal history.
DEATH OF AN ACTRESS is the second in the Cold Case Jury Collection, a unique series of true crime titles. Each case study tells the story of an unsolved crime, or one in which the verdict is open to doubt. Fresh evidence is presented and the reader is invited to deliver their own verdict.

October 1947. A luxury liner steams over the equator off the coast of West Africa and a beautiful actress disappears from her cabin. Suspicion falls on a dashing deck steward with a reputation for entering the cabins of female passengers. When the liner docks at Southampton, the steward is questioned by police. Protesting his innocence, he makes an astonishing admission that shocks everyone, and is charged with murder. His trial at the historic Great Hall in Winchester draws the world’s media. He is found guilty and sentenced to hang.

But was the verdict sound?

Many believe not.

Now for the first time, Antony M. Brown has secured unprecedented access to the police file, enabling the definitive story to be told. Included in the file are original court exhibits, including a hairbrush with strands of the actress’s red hair. Could a personal effect left behind in her cabin provide clues to how she might have died? Take your seat on the Cold Case Jury…

Q&A:

Q) What’s different about the Cold Case Jury true crime collection?

A) It is a series of cold murder cases, normally from the first half of last century, which combine history with a mystery. I have three goals. First, to engage the reader directly. Rather than passively describing events, I use dramatic reconstruction to show what happened and what might have happened. Second, to present key evidence in a special section. Where possible, I introduce new evidence, too. In Death of an Actress, I am the first author to have seen the police file, and new evidence and photographs are published for the first time. Third, to invite readers to deliver their verdicts online on what they think happened. Hence the reader becomes part of the case, helping to bring it to some closure.

Q) What is Death of an Actress about?

A) The second book in the series is about the tragic death of 21-year-old Gay Gibson in 1947. She disappeared from the passenger liner Durban Castle as it sailed from Cape Town to Southampton. A deck steward, James Camb, was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to hang, although many believe there was insufficient evidence to convict. Others believe he was innocent.

Q) Why is it an interesting case?

A) First, it is a murder on the high seas, which is rare. Second, there was no body – it was dumped into the sea. Again, this is unusual in a murder case because the body reveals the cause of death, and without one, the evidence is circumstantial. Third, there was no body because the only suspect confessed to disposing of it while protesting his innocence at the same time. Lastly, the case is from 1947, a different era from today in terms of travel, moral values and medicine. All these factors play a part in this fascinating case.

Q) Why did you select the excerpt below?

A) The extract dramatically reconstructs the first encounter between Gay Gibson and James Camb on board the Durban Castle. It is based solely on James Camb’s account, of course, but many details were gleaned from other evidence and witness testimony. We know from the statements of her friends – unheard at the trial and published for the first time in the book – that Gay talked intimately to strangers. Did this conversation spark attraction between her and the steward? Or was everything distorted in the mind of the man who would later be charged with her murder? Whatever you believe, it is no exaggeration to say that this encounter started a chain reaction that lead to the death of an actress.

EXTRACT:
Camb returned, holding a tray aloft with the palm of his right hand, his left tidily tucked behind his back. As he placed the cocktail glass carefully onto the drink mat in front of her, he observed the spark in her beautiful brown eyes.

“A John Collins, madam. Enjoy,” he said, bowing theatrically. Gay giggled and took a sip. “That’s perfect. Thank you.” She replaced the glass on the table, which gently moved up and down with the swell, as if the ship were breathing.

“So, you’re returning from holiday?” Camb asked, eager to restart the conversation. “No, I’ve just finished performing in a play in Johannesburg – Golden Boy. Have you heard of it?” Camb shook his head. “Well, my leading man was Eric Boon. I bet you’ve heard of him.” “Yes, of course, the Thunderbolt. He’s a good boxer.”

“He’s also an actor, you know. He’s already been in a film, Champagne Charlie.” The steward looked blankly. “With Tommy Trinder and Stanley Holloway?” Gay could see he was still none the wiser. “Well, I guess he brought some star quality to the production, being famous ’n’ all.”

“Is the play coming to London? I could come and see it when I get some leave.” “No, it finished early. It received good reviews and everything, but they closed the theatre.” “Sounds like tough luck. What will you do now?” “I’ve got some introductions to theatres back home.” She took another sip of her cocktail. “And your boyfriend’s joining you later?” Camb asked cheekily, although his only interest in the answer was to assess her likely availability.

“Charles has to run his business, so he couldn’t come with me, but I can’t stop thinking about him.” She placed both her hands across her breast. “We’ve been going steady for only a month, but I’m already crazy about him. He’s taken me to all the best restaurants and clubs in Johannesburg, you know.”

Camb was not deterred by her proclaimed affection, but her answer seemed a little odd. “Why not stay and act in South Africa, then?” he asked. “Well…” Gay hesitated, glancing down to the table. She took another sip of her drink. “Things are a little delicate right now.” “You mean he doesn’t feel the same way?” “No, he’s crazy about me, too. I just know he is,” she gushed. “Well, if you were my girl, I wouldn’t let you go,” he joked. Camb expected a giggle in response but instead Gay suddenly looked pensive. “It’s just…” she started, taking a puff of her cigarette. “Well, let’s just say, things may have become a little… complicated.” Camb asked jocularly, “You don’t mean to tell me you’re having a baby?”

Gay didn’t take offence at Camb’s familiarity. “Well, it’s rather too soon to know,” she replied cautiously. “If that’s the position, why don’t you marry the man?” There was a long pause. “It’s not quite as easy as that.” “The longer you leave it…” “He’s already married,” she cut in.

Camb said nothing, as he surmised the probable purpose of her trip to England. Gay changed the subject, her mood brightening a little as she spoke. “I’m going to have a rest after lunch. I always feel a little sleepy then. Would you mind bringing me a tray of afternoon tea in my cabin? At about four o’clock?” “I cannot leave the Promenade Deck, especially at that time,” Camb explained. “I’m busy with the tea service. When you want afternoon tea, summon the cabin steward and tell him what you want. I’ll prepare your tray and he will bring it to your cabin.” Gay nodded as a male voice called out, “Steward, is it possible for someone else to get served here?” “You’d better go,” she smiled.

Camb slid a printed Manila slip and a stubby pencil across the table. “Could you sign and date it. You settle your account at the end of each week.” Gay filled out the docket. “And your cabin number, please.” He took the slip and circled five pence in the top corner, although he was more interested in knowing the cabin number. He said goodbye, and promptly left. The next time he looked into the Long Gallery there was only an empty, lipstick marked cocktail glass on the corner table.

Image from the inside the book:
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Antony M. Brown
Antony M Brown
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Anne Bonny #Review I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara @FaberBooks #NonFiction #NewRelease #GoldenStateKiller #TrueCrime

cover
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara
Synopsis:

A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer – the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorised California for over a decade – from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

‘You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.’

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called the Golden State Killer. Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death – offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic – and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

My Review:

This scary and yet oh so fascinating book, is journalist Michelle McNamara’s personal investigation into the ‘golden state killer’. The author has meticulously trawled through thousands of documents, in an attempt to learn more details that may indicate who the killer terrorising the state is. It is worth noting that the writer sadly passed away during the writing of the book. Therefore, the book has been constructed by those who assisted her with her investigation. I think this important to note, as the timeline often jumps around the decades. But the main consensus of her findings is all included.

The book has an introduction by crime fiction author Gillian Flynn and an afterword by the authors husband, actor Patton Oswalt. Both shine a light on the author behind the novel. Both have incredible admiration for her drive and ambition to see justice served. There is a powerful letter to the killer from Michelle at the end and you get the distinct impression, she was one hell of a woman! If anything, ever happened to me, I would hope that the investigator had Michelle’s quest for justice.

The book opens with a map of the attacks and a list of investigators and victims. The author has predominantly put the victims at the heart of this book. This gives them a voice that I have rarely seen in true crime. Too often the focus is solely on the psychology of the killer and the criminal activities are in danger of being sensationalised. What Michelle has done, is show you the true horror of the crimes whilst maintaining you never forget the victims he left behind in his wake.

The golden state killer was previously known as the east area rapist. Where he carried out 50+ sexual assaults. The rapes take place in an organised and often controlled manner. Which makes them even more frightening. After one specific assault, where the perpetrator is chased by a neighbour (an FBI agent) he turns to murder. The murders offer him a way to silence his victims forever.
The development to serial rapist to serial killer is fully explored.

The book focuses on different cases individually. The one that stuck in my mind early on, was the murder of Manuela. The aftermath of survivor’s guilt for her husband is laid bare. How do you ever get your life back after such an awful crime has occurred? How do you accept no closure or justice? The crime is detailed further in the book, it is horrific and the very stuff of all women’s nightmares.

“Good criminalists are human scanners”

The killer then adapts his usual attacks of focusing solely on the female victims, to attacking couples. Sometimes even with their children present in the home.
Do not read this, late at night!
What makes this book so terrifying, is that it is all real.
These are real crimes and the killer is still at large.

With the killer adapting to couples, we are walked through the case of Patty & Keith. There was no DNA evidence available at the time of the murders and this allowed the killer to evade justice for so long. Eventually committing heinous crimes over several decades. With the introduction of DNA evidence, comes the matching up of the cases. But it doesn’t lead to any matches in the CODIS system, not even a familial match!

For Michelle McNamara the unsolved case became an obsession. It took over her life and became a vocation. No one wanted justice for these victims more than Michelle. The book details why Michelle was so obsessed by unsolved crimes. The case from her childhood that she has never forgotten, that would lead to her desire to put the golden state killer behind bars.

“I need to see his face.
He loses his power when we know his face”

I am a huge fan of various crime shows such as criminal minds or law & order special victims unit. But they never prepare you for true crime documentary’s or non-fiction books that explore all the darker angles of the criminal’s deviant crimes. The golden state killer had a commitment to reconnaissance. He was known to taunt the police and goad the victims, even decades after rape took place. There is one specific call he makes to a victim, which is detailed in the book. I don’t think I will ever forget the horror he fully intended the victim to feel.
There are other comments muttered to victims during assaults that are just as vile.

“Make one move and you’ll be silent forever and I’ll be gone in the dark” – To a 16yr old victim, believed to be a case of mistaken identity.

The toll the case took on the investigators is debated, and they are named throughout. The author wanted people to see how many hours of investigation went into this case and yet it led it led to nowhere. The various investigators have an in-depth profile of the killer. Which I can only imagine must be incredibly frustrating to them. To go on and on, not getting a face to the name.

“The typical rapist does not have such elaborate schemes” – Carol Daly

There is so many themes discussed it would be impossible for me to list them all within this review. The development of forensics and by whom, is given a spotlight. The psychology of the rapist is also debated amongst professionals. Why is the killer so controlled? Is it dominance and power he seeks?
But still the killer persists to taunt the police…

“I’m the east area rapist I have my next victim stalked and you guys can’t catch me”

The story of young victim Janelle Cruz, Is truly heart-breaking. A girl that had already known abuse and neglect. Her life snuffed out, like it didn’t even matter.

“Nothing signals terror like a teenage girls wild, unrestrained scream in the night”

Similarly, the case of mother and daughter Debbi & Cheri Domingo. The mother Cheri and daughter Debbi, rarely got along and had the usual teen and mother drama of arguments. But when Cheri is taken far too early from Debbi. It will have an everlasting effect on Debbi’s young life, leading to addiction issues etc. I think this is something often overlooked in most true crime stories. The impact of the crimes on the surviving family members. I can not imagine a coping mechanism that ever prepares you for the news; these families received.

The identification of the golden state killer is further complicated by other killers who were known to have operated within the same area. For example, the night stalker Richard Ramirez 1984-1985. These cases were often similar and of the same savagery.

Although this book has given me several sleepless nights. It is a more than a worthy read. It is important for our society to put a face to victims of such heinous crimes. To force the justice system to ensure women are safe in the street and in their homes.
Highly recommended 4*

MM
Michelle McNamara
Website – True Crime Diary