the fatalist book review @duffythewriter

The Fatalist by Campbell McConachine – My 50th book review of the year!

I finished the last third of The Fatalist at home, with The Sopranos back to back playing on the TV. Tony Soprano has just strangled ‘a rat’ with his bare hands, and then took his daughter Meadow home after checking out colleges for her to enrol into. This is the stuff of fiction, however, what struck me cold was that the book I was reading, was about Lindsay Rose. A multiple cold-blooded killer who compartmentalised his brutality. Popping to the pub for some refreshing beers after taking a couple of lives.

About The Fatalist

AS SEEN ON AUSTRALIAN STORY. The largely untold story of Australian multiple murderer Lindsey Rose – by someone who had no idea his mate was a killer.

‘I first met Lindsey Rose playing pool at The Burwood Hotel in 1988. I was two years out of high school. He’d already committed three murders. None of us knew.

‘We knew he was a brothel owner, we knew not to get on his wrong side, but we knew nothing of his lives past: fitter and turner, ambulance officer, private investigator, car thief, hijacker, arsonist, mercenary, drug dealer. Murderer.

‘I drank at The Burwood on and off for six years. The last time I saw Lindsey as a free man was in early 1994 when he came to a poker game at my home. By then he’d committed two more murders – on Valentine’s Day 1994 – and that made five.’

What factors are at play in the creation of a cold-blooded killer? How can a relaxed, sociable, loving man with a strong work ethic keep the truth of his inner life, his dark side, hidden from friends, family and even the woman he marries?

Informed by the science of criminal psychology, court documents and transcripts, correspondence and many interviews with Rose in the notorious Goulburn Supermax prison, Campbell McConachie’s account is a unique and fascinating journey into the life and mind of a multiple murderer.

Duffy’s Review Of The Fatalist

Author Campbell McConachie had a large task on his hands. You can tell he has attempted to give a factual account of the horrendous crimes and to shed light on Lindsay’s life and maybe a clue as to what turned him into a killer. I get the feeling that this book is something McConachie needed to do for himself, to reconcile the friendly guy he socialised with down the local pub with a guy who seemed to have no qualms in slaying multiple people.  More than a gunshot to the head, but brutal slayings and attacks with knives and screwdrivers. How could this be the same person?

I found The Fatalist interesting, yet at times I felt Rose had a touch of the Chopper Read’s about him. Some stories seem embellished, timelines conflicted, and characters seemed lifted from Underbelly. Was this McConachie’s intention? I don’t think so. The author explains the ‘tangled spaghetti’ of homes and timelines Rose was alleged to live in, and when questioned, it seems that the author is still missing some key pieces of Rose’s life. Those pieces are not shared to protect Rose’s own family and that of the author, which lend to the confusion within the chapters. Yet Rose tells these stories well and stands by the fact he only took the lives of those who deserved it, or that were living with, or off of those who were bad. I’m not sure the victim’s families feel quite the same way.

At times I found Lindsay Rose a smart, funny guy and I too felt conflicted reading the life of a man who went to the school of hard knocks and made some decisions which took him away from a positive life (ambulance officer), to that of a career criminal who escalated into murder. With all criminals, there seems to be a justification of sorts for the crimes or at least a reason, but the deeds themselves left me cold.

An interesting, yet sometimes uncomfortable true crime read. An insight into one of Australias most infamous murderers by someone who knew Rose, before knowing he was a killer.

3 out of 5

Copy of The Fatalist given to me by Hachette in exchange for an honest review.