In Australia on Father’s Day, 2005, a car carrying a man and his three young sons careened into a dam. Robert Farquharson survived, but his sons drowned. The ensuing murder trial would drag on for seven long years.
You really do stumble across books on Goodreads that you’d never get to read otherwise. I have never heard of this case or this author before, but when it popped up in my recommendations, I was intrigued enough to put in a request at the library – and I am very glad that I did so.
Over the course of seven years, Garner followed the case of Robert Farquharson, sitting in every day on the trial and trying to faithfully record her impressions of it, trying to grapple with how such a horrible thing could happen, and why it struck people all across Australia so personally. Through her viewpoint, we become familiar not only with the facts of the case but also the various personalities, from the witnesses to the judge and lawyers to even the jury.
Garner’s prose is vividly spare, and as I read on I felt like I was being sucked down in the maelstrom of grief that gripped everyone involved in the trial. The purpose of a trial is to establish whether it is the prosecution’s or the defense’s version of events that is the most credible, but we continually reach the point that in the very end, it is really impossible to know. Doubt will always exist, even if as thin as a sheet of cigarette paper.
The outcome of the trial might serve punishment, but in a case so awful as this there can never be any real justice.