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08 February 2013

Antonia Monacelli: Some Families Just Can't Hack It

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It is common knowledge that most murders are committed by persons known to them either as part of their family, a spouse or partner, or as friends. In "Some Families Just Can't Hack It" Antonia Monacelli has taken a quintet of actual murders with a family background and written short stories giving her version of what really happened. The stories are well written and crafted and give a clear insight into the background and motives and a, sometimes graphic, description of each murder.

The stories give a realistic and detailed personal and emotional view of why circumstances made certain people get to the stage of considering murdering someone close to them, and analyse the extent of pre-meditation and how the murders happened. Even the book title is a pun on an appalling axe murder. Each story is followed by a synopsis of what actually happened to the potential offender, with the police, the courts and the penal system. This adds to the realism, and on more than one occasion made me question the legal outcome.

These are a real crime based stories and not your standard murder mysteries, which are popular fictional escapism where the reader can divorce themselves from what is described. If you like real crime stories then you will enjoy them. You may not like them as much if you prefer to distance yourself from crimes through fictional escapism.

It was difficult for me to rate these short stories objectively. I am a fictional escapist so I found them a bit disturbing and despite the quality of the writing I would personally give them an OK rating (3 stars) - which is still a positive rating. If I was not affected by the reality of the topics I would probably give them a 4 star rating. Assuming that many readers would not have my sensitivity I decided to go with the higher rating - caveat emptor.

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