Bibliophile | ‘You Had It Coming’ is a thrilling Aussie whodunnit

You Had It Coming
by B.M. Carroll

Warning: This review contains mentions of sexual assault.

Paramedic Megan Lowe has half an hour before the end of her shift and is looking forward to having a day off when a call comes in that a male in his fifties has gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen. With lights and siren on, she and her partner head to Killara, one of Sydney’s more salubrious suburbs.

The man’s life is in the balance as the paramedics load him onto a stretcher and into the back of the ambulance. It is only then that Megan realises that she knows the person. “She knows him from a different world, a different life. This face has haunted her, belittled her, broken her. Those thin lips, the hateful words they spat out: lies, terrible lies.”

It was twelve years previously that Megan and her friend Jessica Foster had gone to a party together; thinking that they knew everything there was to know, as is the prerogative of seventeen year-olds. They got very drunk very quickly and became prey to a couple of year 12 students from a school for rich privileged boys.

The man Megan is delivering to the hospital was the defense lawyer for the two young men in the rape trial that followed. High profile barrister William Newson specialized in getting his clients off sexual assault charges and he did this by cleverly twisting the situation to show that the girls were “inviting trouble”.

When Jess heard about the attempted murder, her first reaction was that he had it coming. Newson had made them into the criminals that were trying to ruin the young men’s lives. Megan reflects that the lawyer was so good at his job even she believed it was their fault in the end when the young men were declared innocent.

I couldn’t put this book down. There are several entwined narratives as Megan and Jess recall their horrific shared past and their struggles to resume any sort of life afterwards. Detective Sergeant Bridget Kennedy tries to find the perpetrator and we follow Megan as her work as an ambo takes her to situations that young (and not so young) women end up in thanks to alcohol and drug consumption.

It is the addition Newson’s address to the jury in the rape trial that is most disturbing. His character assassination of the two naïve and innocent 17 year-old girls on a night out was persuasive and damning … and showed that the system was against them even before a word was uttered in the courtroom. He certainly had it coming, but who finally took justice into their own hands?

Lezly Herbert

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