THE BETRAYAL: Y.A.ERSKINE

Posted: December 16, 2012 in Australia

This was a very interesting and thought provoking novel, the second by Yvette Erskine a former Tasmanian police officer, about what happens when young thebetrayal_0police officer Lucy Howard makes an allegation of rape against a member of the Special Operations Group.

The author uses the compelling technique of  having each of the thirteen chapters take the story on from a different person’s perspective; starting with the complainant, Lucy and moving through  various other participants including the Commissioner, Director of Public Prosecutions, a psychologist, a journalist and friends of the participants and ending with the Soggy [the alleged rapist].

This keeps the reader gripped but means that we get more than a fair ration of despicable characters. The strange attitude of the females that Lucy by complaining has somehow “betrayed the sisterhood”, and that will put back the advancement of women in the police service I found hard to stomach. The majority of the male characters are corrupt and no better than the perpetrator, Nick Greaves, and Cam the man Lucy believes is her boyfriend [another cop in prison for assaulting a criminal] fails to support her.

Cam, even more so than Nick, had taught her a valuable lesson: not only could you not trust anyone, but you couldn’t rely on anyone, no matter how much you wanted to.

The Betrayal is a bleak story that shows Australia’s Federal system gives great opportunity for a level of corruption and venality at the local level that is perhaps predictable. We all know that politicians can be corrupt, and the policeforce are not a normal cross section of most societies, but I really wondered if  Tasmanians at any level really have misogynist and racist attitudes similar to  those portrayed in this book? 

Torino was one of the two token wogs in the force, a solid bloke who seemed to keep his nose relatively clean. He was slightly less annoying than the other wog, the Greek who was currently out on some weak-as-piss stress claim. 

When I have heard places such as Tasmania described as like England in the 1950s I did not think it meant they still exhibited the worst of the racial attitudes. A depressingly harsh novel that makes its point well, and with a technique that could grow on me. I look forward to another book from Yvette Erskine.  

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Comments
  1. [...] This was a very interesting and thought provoking novel, the second by Yvette Erskine a former Tasmanian police officer, about what happens when young Lucy Howard makes an allegation of rape against a member of the Special Operations Group.  [...]

  2. Norman – Erskine certainly pulls no punches when it comes to the topics she addresses. I couldn’t agree more that she is uncompromising in that way. I also found the use of different perspectives here and in The Brotherhood to be really effective. It’s an innovative way to tell a story of one event and its aftermath, and Erskine does it well.

  3. I really want to read this one but $22 for Kindle, I just can’t do that. Maybe this will one I buy as I have heard amazing things about YA Erskine and look forward to experiencing the writing.

  4. kathy d. says:

    Interesting review. I found the same things to be true in The Brotherhood, Erskine’s first book. Was anyone not a racist or misogynist, I wondered. The characters were all so negative, cynical and bigoted that it was hard to read, but this may be realistic.
    In my city in the States, it’s a similar situation, with a lot of police brutality and hostility even to other police who are people of color or women. The attitudes haven’t changed much nor the actions.
    I don’t know if I’ll read this although I sympathize with the rape survivor, of course. I believe the book is based on Erskine’s own experiences, although she chose not to report the assault. Years later, I believe she saw the assailant and she had a panic attack. Tough stuff to write about.

  5. Norman Price says:

    Kathy I can understand Erskine writing such a bleak story if it was autobiographical.
    This has been a tough time for you in the States with Hurricane Sandy and now the terrible tragedy in Newtown. Let us hope that President Obama can get stricter gun laws through Congress. The shooting of very young children in Dunblane was the catalyst for much stricter controls in the UK. Two of my friends voluntarily gave up their firearms [they belonged to shooting clubs] after that tragedy.

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