A Murder Without Motive

In 2004, the body of a young Perth woman was found on the grounds of a primary school. Her name was Rebecca Ryle. The killing would mystify investigators, lawyers, and psychologists - and profoundly rearrange the life of the victim's family.

It would also involve the author's family, because his brother knew the man charged with the murder. For years, the two had circled each other suspiciously, in a world of violence, drugs, and rotten aspirations.

A Murder Without Motive is a police procedural, a meditation on suffering, and an exploration of how the different parts of the justice system make sense of the senseless. It is also a unique memoir: a mapping of the suburbs that the author grew up in, and a revelation of the dangerous underbelly of adolescent ennui.

Martin McKenzie-Murray
Ned Kelly Year: 
Judges Report: 

In journalist Martin McKenzie Murray’s very personal book—the story is of the murder of young woman by a teenager who was an acquaintance of the author’s younger brother—he carefully avoids the inherent risk of turning his book into a narrative all about himself. A beautiful writer, he evokes the physical and emotional landscape of his own – and the perpetrator’s youth – with great skill. First and foremost, this is a book about a murder victim and her family: a fact that makes it a pleasing corrective to the oceans of ink dispensed in accounts of crimes in which victims appear as little more than footnotes.

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