Every Parent’s Nightmare by Belinda Hawkins: A Review from Andrew Cattanach

by |June 25, 2013

The story of Jock Palfreeman has captivated Australia. Booktopia’s Andrew Cattanach took a look at award-winning journalist Belinda Hawkins’ account of the harrowing story of a young Australian jailed for murder.

Wrong place, wrong time.

Some phrases are uttered so often in our daily lives that they lose their punch, struggling to convey the real horror behind them.

Sometimes you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and be late for work.

Sometimes you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and get trapped in an awkward conversation.

Jock Palfreeman was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now he’s in a Bulgarian prison cell for murder.

In 2009, Jock Palfreeman was found guilty of the murder of Andrei Monov, the only son of two people well connected in the Sofia legal fraternity. He claims he went to the defence of gypsies being attacked by Monov and a bunch of soccer hooligans. The Bulgarians claim it was an act of cold-blooded murder.

The first thing that struck me about Belinda Hawkins’ first book Every Parent’s Nightmare was how meticulous it was. So many true crime books can skip merrily over important details in the hope of swaying you towards their side of the argument, but Every Parent’s Nightmare lays everything on the table. It’s a riveting journey of right and wrong, perception and truth. One senses Hawkins is only too aware that the event itself is the selling point, intelligently leaving sensationalism at the door and, refreshingly, editorialising to a minimum.

Her own part to play in the Jock Palfreeman saga is as the eye of the storm. Acutely aware of the emotions swirling around her but able to articulate the key moments over the days and months of this harrowing story.

Another engaging element was that, despite the detail of the investigation, Every Parent’s Nightmare retains a near noir quality. It’s an absolute page-turner. It was only after I learnt more about the author that I discovered, and it now comes as no surprise, that while Hawkins has been a Walkley-Award winning journalist for over 30 years, she also has a Master of Arts in English Literature. Her understanding of the subtleties of a deeply human story is wonderful.

The most frightening aspect of Jock Palfreeman’s story is that he seems like the kind of young man I always wanted to be. Free-spirited, gregarious and passionate about eradicating injustice. Always standing up to bullies, whether it be on the behalf of friends or strangers. And despite all these qualities, he finds himself on the wrong side of the bars. It’s a story I always wanted to know more about, and now I do. And if you were like me, grab a copy, and know more.


Andrew Cattanach is a contributor to The Booktopia Blog and was shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

You can read his other posts here, and follow his ramblings on twitter at @andrew__cat.

Click here to buy Every Parent’s Nightmare from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

Follow Andrew: Twitter


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