by Y.A. Erskine
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An engrossing novel of corruption and injustice at the heart of the police system, from the author of The Brotherhood. Tasmania is in the grip of one of the longest, bleakest winters on record and it's particularly icy at the Hobart Police Station. Of the many golden rules in policing, one is especially sacred: what happens at work stays at work. So when a naive young constable, Lucy Howard, makes an allegation of sexual assault against a respected colleague, the rule is well and truly broken. Soon the station is divided. From Lucy's fellow rookies right up to the commissioner himself - everyone must take a side. With grudges, prejudices and hidden agendas coming into play, support arrives from the unlikeliest of corners. But so too does betrayal ...
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- 400 pages
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Read customer reviews on The Betrayal
Compelling crime fiction
Linked to The Brotherhood, the stunning debut by Australian crime author, and ex-police officer, Y.A. Erskine, The Betrayal is as equally compelling.
"Not drunk. Had sex. No hangover. No memory."
It's been two weeks since Constable Lucy Howard shared a celebratory drink with a trusted colleague, Special Operation Group officer Nick Greaves and woke up naked in his bed with no idea what happened in between. Blaming one too many drinks Lucy fled, disgusted with herself for betraying her boyfriend and decided to forget it ever happened. It's not until she is taking the statement of a victim of sexual assault that she realises that Nick had drugged and raped her and takes the extraordinarily brave step of making an official complaint against the popular constable. In a case of he said/she said, Lucy's allegation rocks the Tasmanian police force to it's core, exposing an ugly vein of misogyny, corruption and betrayal.
The Betrayal is linked to The Brotherhood primarily by its cast, Lucy Howard, for example, was the rookie constable who was partnering Sergeant John White when he was killed in the line of duty. Erskine also picks up threads of the story left unfinished in The Brotherhood, giving us some insight in to the longer term fall out for those involved in the case, including the perpetrator. The same format is used to tell the story, a third person narrative divided amongst thirteen characters, many of them familiar such as Detective Will Torino, the journalist, Tim Roberts, and Constable Cameron Walsh. As the story unfolds, the shifts in view provide a different perspective of not only the case involving Lucy and Nick but also a wider view of the force as Erskine continues to explore corruption in the police force.
The Betrayal is as confronting as The Brotherhood, perhaps more so because of the nature of the incident and Erskine's brutal honesty about the legal outcomes for victims of sexual assault. Lucy is well aware that prosecution is unlikely but decides that as a police officer, and for her own peace of mind, she must report Nick no matter the consequences. As an elite member of SOG, Nick has an enviable status amongst the force, on top of which he is handsome and charming. Much like in any sexual assault case, stereotypical attitudes come in to play and are exacerbated by the status of the defendant. Lucy is accused of false reporting, targeted in a smear campaign, harassed and physically threatened. Nick's mates rally to protect not only his reputation but also their own secrets and I honestly felt sick at a scene where a few of Lucy's female colleagues trash her gleefully. When I learnt that the initial events of The Betrayal are a thinly veiled admission of an incident in Erskine's own eleven year police career I was stunned. Erskine confesses she decided not to press charges against her assailant, certain her case wouldn't have stood a chance and unwilling to be further victimised by the media, the system and her colleagues. Lucy's story then is a case of 'what if?' and unfortunately, as disturbing as it is, I think it's entirely possible it would have been much worse than what Erskine has imagined.
The Betrayal is a confronting but utterly compelling novel, Erskine exposes the underbelly of policing that society prefers to remain ignorant of. Dark, gritty and raw I was fascinated and repulsed in almost equal measure. This is a stunning piece of crime fiction and I recommend The Betrayal, and The Brotherhood, without reservation.