10 January 2014

On My Bookshelf: DEAD BY FRIDAY by Derek Pedley

Dead by Friday

Dead by Friday by Derek Pedley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Adelaide is no virgin when it comes to bizarre murders.”

Dead by Friday is a well-crafted and in-depth account of the cruel and brutal slaying of South Australian mother-of-three Carolyn Matthews, a woman whose only crime was to be married to the wrong man.

There is nothing simple about this case. Dead by Friday reads like a far-fetched crime novel, but then truth is often stranger than fiction. The more the story unfolded, the sicker I felt and the more I wished it were fiction.

My admiration has to go to the detectives who somehow pieced together this complex and warped tale of lust and manipulation.

Highly recommended for lovers of true crime.

He was once a bronzed lifesaver but is now a balding, overweight tyre-shop manager nearing 40, an ambitious man with desires his marriage cannot satisfy. She is 29, the wife of one of his employees; a serial cheater and manipulator, she can curl her lips into a knowing smile and bat bedroom eyes at any man who cares to take a second look. Kevin Matthews and Michelle Burgess are made for each other.

The affair begins with furtive sex in parks and offices, moving on to whiskey-fuelled trysts in motels. Their marriages crumble, his career and finances suffer and the obsession deepens. The pillow talk turns sinister. She issues ultimatums. Drastic action is needed if they are to start a new life together.

At the front gate of a suburban primary school, in between mothers' small talk, two murder plots are hatched. Contracts - complete with photographs of Matthews' wife and Burgess' husband - are issued. Enter amateur hitman David Key, who says he'll do both for $50,000. It is the perfect plan: Kevin and Michelle will escape their marriages, claim the $100,000 life insurance policy on Matthews' wife, Carolyn, and live happily ever after.

But their lust and greed is infectious; Key is instantly infatuated with Michelle, the "high-class sheila" who has hired him, and a second, parallel affair begins. When she tips over the edge into a manic and delusional state, the situation spins out of control, leading to a shocking and brutal crime.

It is recounted through the eyes of detectives, witnesses, families, friends, lovers and one of the intended victims, Michelle's husband Darren Burgess.

On the surface, it is a random and horrific crime without a motive. Who would kill a much-loved wife, mother and respected lifesaver? DEAD BY FRIDAY draws on the meticulous investigation and puts readers at the detectives' sides as they hunt the killers. It seeks the disturbing truth about Michelle Burgess - how did a schoolgirl who told extravagant lies to get attention grow up to be a serial sex-predator-turned-killer? The truth is revealed in a forensic profile that reaches conclusions that shock even the eminent forensic psychologist who compiled it.

Discover how the conspiracy and crime unfolded, leading to an inexplicable third affair, and the seduction of prison officers behind bars. Should authorities fear Michelle Burgess may try to strike again?

Available on Kindle from Amazon

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