I have many reading goals: to read more books; to jump on reading bandwagons and see what the fuss is about; to read outside of my comfort zone and across different genres; and to read more books written by Australian authors. I’ve been doing all this so far, apart from the last point. I don’t read enough fiction by Australian authors.
Well, I’m happy to say that the book I’m about to review was written by an Australian – Y.A. Erskine. The Betrayal had me riveted from page one. I was surprised to learn that this is only the author’s second book because she writes like one of the crime writing pros.
The Betrayal is set in Hobart, Tasmania, and tells a story of corruption and injustice at the heart of the police system. A young constable, Lucy Howard, wakes up in bed with a colleague, Constable Nick Greaves. She has no recollection as to how she got into this situation. The last thing she remembered was having a sip of her third drink for the night and watching the start of a DVD with Nick.
Mortified by this experience, Lucy tries to put it behind her. She has a boyfriend who she is crazy about and Nick is just a good friend. But a couple of weeks later when talking to the victim of a sexual assault involving a date rape drug, everything becomes clear to Lucy. She can’t remember what happened with Nick because she was drugged. She is a victim of sexual assault.
But what can Lucy do? Nick is one of the most popular officers around. He is good-looking and has no problem attracting female attention. Who is going to believe Lucy’s story? It is difficult enough for any victim of rape, but how can one police officer accuse another of the same crime, especially in a culture where it’s hard enough for women to be granted respect? It’s also a culture where you don’t rat on your fellow police officer, no matter what. Lucy feels she has no other option but to report the crime – and that’s when all hell breaks loose.
The Betrayal is told from the point-of-view of various players: Lucy; the Detective Sergeant who she reports the sexual assault to, the corrupt Police Commissioner; the Detective Inspector charged with investigating police corruption; the police psychologist; friends of the accused; Lucy’s boyfriend; the accused; and more. What becomes clear is that everyone has their own agenda and for some helping out a “mate” comes before their duty to uphold the law and see that justice is served.
The more I read, the angrier I got and the more helpless Lucy’s quest for justice seemed. Her colleagues are divided as to whose side to be on. While some men support Lucy, others see this as another example that women don’t belong on the force. Surprisingly, some women also turn against her: some because by coming forward she has made it difficult for all women in the police force, others because they are friends of Nick’s and believe plain Lucy should be flattered she received Nick’s attention.
The plot of this book resonates as something that really could happen – and does happen. You often read of these cases in association with male-dominated workplaces like the military. It was no surprise to read that Y.A. (Yvette) Erskine spent eleven years in the Tasmanian Police Service. Her real-life experience brings even more authenticity to this story.
To find out what happens to Lucy, you’ll have to read The Betrayal for yourself. Just be prepared for your blood to boil during the process!