A review by Nalini Haynes
Joe Cinque’s Consolation is the true story of Helen Garner’s investigation of Joe Cinque’s murder, the trials she attended and her encounters with the families of the murderer and victim.
Joe Cinque was a young man living in Canberra with his girlfriend Anu Singh. Anu decided to murder Joe so she had a couple of dinner parties to celebrate, telling all her friends someone would be murdered but no-one reported this to the police. Anu’s friend Madhavi Rao went with Anu to learn how to inject someone fatally with heroin. Madhavi even saw Joe, drugged, in his final hours, yet did nothing to help him. Helen immerses the reader in the real-life horror that ended Joe Cinque’s life.
Helen talks about her experiences at the trial, her impressions of Anu Singh, Madhavi Rao and the people who testified on their behalf. I cried for Joe’s family as I read Helen’s account of sitting with them, their emotional burden, their financial suffering, their inability to present pertinent evidence to the court.
After spending hours trawling the court transcripts, Helen confirms pertinent evidence was omitted from at least one of the trials and adds a lay-person’s explanation for the judge’s findings.
I can’t say much about this novel without giving spoilers. I want to discuss the story, I want to rant, I want –
I want you to read Helen’s account of a true story so I won’t spoil it for you.
Helen Garner is an award-winning author who has boldly gone where others fear to tread. This time Helen Garner explores murder, grief and the judiciary system. I highly recommend Joe Cinque’s Consolation. Below is a list of Awards and commendations given to Joe Cinque’s Consolation.
★★★★★ five out of five stars
- Winner (tie), 2005 Ned Kelly Awards (The Crime Writers Association of Australia), Best True Crime
- Finalist and highly commended, 2005 Walkley Awards, Non-fiction book
- Shortlisted, 2005 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Douglas Stewart Prize for non-fiction
- Shortlisted, 2005 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, The Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-fiction
- Shortlisted, 2006 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, non-fiction