Today I am delighted to be the next stop on the blog tour for Anne Buist’s new novel, Medea’s Curse. For my stop the author has very kindly written a guest post to share with you all.
Medea’s Curse by Anne Buist
A forensic psychiatrist, Natalie King, gets pulled into a missing child case because she has inside knowledge—Travis, the father of the missing child was also the father of Bella-Kaye, murdered by Natalie’s patient. This is on top of her normal workload which includes juggling her negative response to Georgia, accused of murdering three children, and trying to keep a troubled young woman alive.
And then there’s Natalie’s inconvenient attraction to the married prosecutor.
Did Travis have a child with two murderers? Or is there more to the story?
As Natalie seeks the truth it appears someone doesn’t want her to find it…and her sanity and life are put on the line.
“Nursery Crimes” and “Secret Tot Bashed” are just two of the sensationalist headlines that cases of infanticide and child murder attract. These crimes are abhorrent—children are vulnerable and need our protection—and the public outcry at the perpetrators is often loud and clear. Some of these cases make it around the world; the video footage of James Bulger being led from the shopping centre to his death is fixed in many people’s mind.
As an expert in the area—I am a Professor of Women’s Mental Health and work in perinatal forensic cases of murder and abuse—I am often asked to comment on cases I have not been involved in. In one case many years ago I said that it was important we tried to understand why these crimes happen—in order to be able to prevent them.
I received hate mail.
I was staggered by this, because I in no way suggested that the crime was acceptable—and forgiveness (if given) is the domain of the victim’s families, not mine. But this got me to thinking how the public generally assumes that the people who commit these crimes are monsters—in part because of the abhorrence and fear for our own children and in part through not having met and worked with the perpetrators.
There are indeed psychopaths without conscience and with little if any redeeming features, though I would argue that even in these cases there are things to be understood about how they came to be that way that might help prevent tragedy. In “One of Us” by Asne Seierstad we hear about Anders Breivik’s early family dysfunction, and while this does not excuse him, with a loving stable family—or if the system had acted when they identified the problem when he was four—it is unlikely he would have killed 77 children.
I do not work with psychopaths. But I have worked with a number of women who have directly killed or abused their children, or failed to protect them from harm. Amongst them are histories of early childhood abuse and role models for violence, severe mental illness, abusive relationships and intellectual disability. None of these women are evil and most have not behaved badly or criminally at any other time. But they have done something bad—and even if the justice system doesn’t punish them, I have seen them punish themselves. One woman cried every week when I saw her for years. She had only ever wanted a baby—she now will never have one. Others have ended in gaol despite having an illness which clearly distorted their ability to make rational decisions; many of these believed they were saving the child.
It was for these women I wanted to write Medea’s Curse. To help those who don’t work in the area of perinatal forensics and psychiatry to understand why. Why sometimes bad things happen to normal people…and that tarring them all with the same brush is to deny a fundamental flaw in us all—in the right (or wrong) circumstances, “there but for the grace of God go I”.
I also wanted to take a gutsy heroine with her own problems and to put her into conflict with the system and see what happened. Even in Medea’s Curse, though it covers a confronting topic, I wanted some uplifting moments to remind us all that even from bad backgrounds, good things can happen. Natalie King like many heroes is flawed—and she has her own demons to fight. In the second book in the series, Dangerous to Know, Natalie tries to come to terms with her own mental health issues while playing a cat and mouse game with her research supervisor who has lost a pregnant wife…and may just be planning the murder of his second. In the third book which I am currently finishing, Natalie will discover what happened to her father as she lays open her own family secrets while in the midst of her partner’s and her patient’s custody issues.