Thursday, November 5, 2009

Review: MEANER THAN FICTION - edited by Lindy Cameron

The law is there to protect us, right? To bring justice to victims; to punish the wrong-diers. WRONG!

MEANER THAN FICTION is a series of pieces written by crime writers, lawyers, academics and those involved in the legal/justice system that demonstrates that the legal system doesn't always dispense justice.

Lindy Cameron writes about the doctor who was in the wrong place at the wrong time when a man who felt he was wronged by the medical profession, unable to find the doctor he was seeking, decided to take out his anger on the nearest medical professional. He was shot several times and the perpetrator spent less than two years in prison. Compensation for being a victim of crime, came too little, too late for the doctor whose subsequent ill-health and the long legal procedings took a high toll on his practice.

Or how about Shelly Robertson, the forensic pathologist, who is constantly being frustrated by constraints on her testimony? Her thoughts are that the oath should be changed from "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" to "the truth, those bits of it I'm allowed to give and nothing but the truth.". She claims that after the lawyers have finished, what the jury hears is far from the whole truth.

Leigh Redhead tells the story of her younger sister's encounter with a peeping tom/hidden camera pervert.

Robin Bowles recounts the long fight by Bernard Munro against bureaucracy to try and have the authorities reopen the inquest into his daughter's death. He encountered brick walls and backside covering.

Kerry Greenwood delves into the past and finds several instances of injustices done and the tenacious souls who worked tirelessly to right wrongs.

All these pieces add up to a compelling, if slightly depressing examination of the flaws in our legal system.

The title of the book, MEANER THAN FICTION is an apt one. If these stories had been crime fiction, readers would have been up in arms about unresolved plots and untidy endings. For many of the people in the book there is no happy ending, because this is life and it is MEANER THAN FICTION.

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Sunnie - Thanks for this review. I've always been fascinated by the difference between what the law is *supposed* to do, and what the law actually *does* do. I'm sure it makes for very compelling reading.