I discovered this after listening to the podcast Phoebe s Fall and learning about her horrific, lonely story I was hooked and stayed up all night reading this It s distressing and haunting but contains a lot of important and interesting info on the case The suicide ruling seems like a scapegoat to me and I hope dear Phoebe gets the justice she deserves one day. A fascinating and tragic story, but I found the writing laboured, especially the author s asides about herself. On December , The Body Of A Year Old Woman Was Found At The Bottom Of The Rubbish Chute In The Luxury Balencea Tower Apartments In St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Twelve Floors Below The Apartment She Had Shared With Her Boyfriend, Antony HampelWithin Minutes, The Sound Of Sirens Filled The Hall As Police Cars From The Nearby Police Station Filled The Front Forecourt In Response To The Day Manager S Call So Began The So Called Investigation Into The Sudden Death Of A Young Woman Called Phoebe HandsjukFrom Then, The Case Became Weirder And Weirder Phoebe, It Turned Out, Was A Beautiful But Damaged Young Woman Who D Been In A Fraught Relationship With A Well Connected And Wealthy Lover Almost Twice Her Age, Who Was Related To The Elite Of Melbourne S Judiciary The Police Botched Their Investigation, So Phoebe S Grandfather, A Former Detective, Decided To Run One Of His Own And In December , After A Day Inquest, The Coroner Delivered A Finding That Excluded Both Suicide And Foul Play, A Ruling That Shocked Her Family And Many Others Who Had Been Following The CaseHow Did Phoebe Handsjuk Fall To Her Death In Into The Darkness , Robin Bowles Uses Her Formidable Array Of Investigative And Forensic Skills To Tell A Tale That Is Stranger Than Fiction I decided to read this book after listening to a podcast about the case It was an interesting but frustrating read, so many unanswered questions My heart goes out to this family, as Phoebe s death will probably never be resolved to their satisfaction Robin Bowles feels like a grandmother that has stumbled upon a courtroom and decided to sit in to see what s happening A writer who has spent time following Australian murders and unsolved mysteries, this time she s focused her attention on the story of Phoebe Handsjuk, a young Melbourne woman who was found at the bottom of a garbage chute in her well to do apartment complex Robin s narration stems mainly from the coronial inquest into Pheobe s death By any means its a death that deserved a top notch police investigation at the very least, and it s through Robin s in depth look into the inquest that it appears that there are holes in a lot of the investigation, which have led to questions surrounding the final verdict of Phoebe s death The coronial inquest can be a bit dry at times think of watching a court procedural but without the dramatic effects that keep you entertained But this is the reality of an inquest many hours can be spent on apartment key fobs, whilst other witnesses and experts are given little time to weigh in on the circumstances The resolution of Phoebe s story is going to be inadequate for most there s certainly a feeling that justice was elusive for the Handsjuk family, but it was certainly an interesting look into the case and it s peculiarities Robin is a charming writer who brings you along with her for the investigative ride, and certainly makes you feel like you re one of her sidekicks as she conducts her own experiments and investigations. Into the Darkness by Robin Bowles is a true crime book looking at The Mysterious Death of Phoebe Handsjuk.In December 2010 Phoebe bled to death in the garbage room of the Balencea apartment building on St Kilda Road in Melbourne, after falling 12 floors down the rubbish chute The autopsy and police investigation concluded Phoebe committed suicide however her family refused to believe the findings.Melbourne based author Robin Bowles attended the Inquest into Phoebe s death and brings the case to light in this book Into the Darkness.Having lived in an apartment building for 10 years, the case details surrounding the building security at Balencea, access fobs, CCTV, rubbish disposal, visitor access, concierge and Owners Corporation were fascinating to me I currently live on the 18th floor of an apartment building and have a similar rubbish chute to the one at Balencea I just can t believe anyone would willingly climb into a rubbish chute In fact, just the thought of climbing into its claustrophobic, dirty darkness is hard to fathom The only conclusion I can reach is that someone else put her into the chute to dispose of her.There is much speculation about Phoebe s boyfriend Ant Hampel and his behaviour after Phoebe s death was nothing short of bizarre.The only reason I cannot give Into the Darkness five stars in this review other than the insensitivity of rating true crime in the first place is that the author Robin Bowles inserts wayyyyyy too much of herself into the text.The first hint of this appears before the Prologue when she lists her dog Miss Deva in the index as her Sleuthing Companion The list includes all the people named in the book Handsjuk and Hampel family members, friends, Police, Detectives, health professionals etc so that the reader can use it as a reference And I did, many times But listing her dog makes an absolute mockery of the list.On page 88 she tells us her husband thinks she s a bleeding heart Who cares On page 109 Bowles leaves the Inquest early becausethere wasn t much of interest to meOn page 150, Bowles looks forward to a break because her hand hurts from writing and then has dumplings for lunch On page 175 Bowles is grateful when the day concluded because she has writer s cramp.Bowles also described each of the witnesses in an interesting style, here s one from Page 211He looked a bit like one of those actors who play the Swedish detective Kurt Wallander, with a greying beard a bit like kiwi fruit skinWhat the hell Bowles even attempts to investigate the case herself by testing the security at Balencea and questioning the owner of the phone repair shop Bowles isn t a detective and this was highly irregular, bordering on inappropriate.I wish an editor had removed every instance when Bowles referred to her boredom, discomfort, writer s cramp or tiredness I have no doubt that attending the Inquest every day was emotionally and physically draining for her, and as a reader we automatically respect her dedication However, when her comments are read alongside the details of Phoebe s death and her family s obvious grief, it comes across as terribly insensitive.Bowles had me gripped with her account of Phoebe s case and investigation into her death and I wish she d stuck to bringing Phoebe s case to light and highlighting the injustice s of the legal system Every time she referred to herself I was rudely jerked from the case and began to resent it.Ultimately, I m grateful to have read Into the Darkness The Mysterious Death of Phoebe Handsjuk and to have learned about Phoebe s life and her tragic death I don t think we can ever be certain as to who was responsible for Phoebe s untimely death, however I ll never believe she willingly climbed into that rubbish chute Not without leaving a single fingerprint Never Copy courtesy of Scribe Publications I don t tend to get emotionally invested in true crime novels but reading about Phoebe Handsjuk s death left me in various stages of anguish A tumultuous relationship with an older partner Ongoing issues with depression A mysterious death with questions than answers And an overwhelmingly eerie sense that this could so easily have been a friend A relative A girl I knew How would I cope My interest in Phoebe s story was piqued by the recent The Age podcast, Phoebe s Fall It seemed incredulous that someone would choose to end their life by voluntarily climbing into a garbage chute, feet first, with a blood alcohol level of 0.15, without leaving fingerprints on the stainless steel entry hatch There were so many glaring police investigative errors, so many unfortunate coincidences of missing items of potential evidence, so many bizarre anomalies that my heart really does break for Phoebe s family who must find peace even though their questions remain unanswered And then there s the tantalising suggestion that others may know This book does get a little court heavy as it runs through the inquest day by day and I found Bowles constant commentary a little annoying and generally smug but it does provide a comprehensive picture of many, but not all, of the key people in Phoebe s life before her death. A mystery indeed So many mistakes made by the investigation and the legal system So many unanswered questions because the police believed it to be suicide rather than a murder investigation I see both sides of the argument there, however why no prints on a stainless steel garbage chute if Pheobe was to put herself in there alone Rest well Pheobe those who know your truth have to live with it until the end of their days. I won a copy of true crime writer Robin Bowles latest book, Into the Darkness the mysterious death of Phoebe Handsjuk via a Goodreads giveaway This is a book that contains a crime mystery that has fascinated me since word first got out through Australia s media coverage of the case, some six years ago now More recently, my interest in the case was piqued when I watched a Sixty Minutes television report on Phoebe Handsjuk s case.For those who are not aware of this peculiar crime mystery, it centres on the death of a twenty four year old woman named Phoebe Handsjuk Phoebe was a talented young woman with her whole life ahead of her Phoebe s life was sadly cut short, when she was found in the rubbish chute in luxury apartment block she resided in with her boyfriend in Melbourne After a short but bungled police investigation, Phoebe s death is ruled as suicide The Handsjuk family fight this ruling, believing there was much to Phoebe s death that the police miscounted Robin Bowles opens up the resulting investigation Bowles delivers an impartial account of the inquest and she also traces back to the original police investigation Bowles also gives the reader an insight into Phoebe herself, the girl growing up and the troubled young woman she became before her death.Robin Bowles is a skilled Australian true crime writer A quick glance at her repertoire of novels she has under her belt, proves her precision at bringing fascinating true crimes to the attention of readers The case of Phoebe Handsjuk is just as bizarre, as much as it is tragic I thought Robin Bowles did a fine job of building a picture of Phoebe as a starting point, which I feel is an integral part of this novel Bowles delves into Phoebe s family relationships, childhood and her formative teenage years She also examines Phoebe s recent experiences as a young woman struggling with depression Bowles then moves onto Phoebe s relationship with Antony Hampel, the boyfriend who she shared an apartment with, which was the very same apartment where she was found dead Understanding this relationship is quite crucial to the case, as this is where many inconsistencies in the police investigation lie Bowles follows up her story with a detailed picture of the inquest, which really is an eye opener as to how flawed, as well as unclear, this case has been right from the start What I took away most from Bowles treatment of this sensitive case, was the need to inject into mental illness Phoebe life may possibly have been spared, had she received the care and attention she needed before her life was cut short.Into the Darkness the mysterious death of Phoebe Handsjuk offers an informed and comprehensive account of a tragic crime that captivated the nation It is a must read if you are a fan of quality true crime stories I wish to thank Goodreads and Scribe Publications for providing me a copy of this book for review purposes This review also appears on my blog True Crime Commemoration 17Setting 2010 Australia
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- Robin Bowles
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