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Book Review - Mandatory Murder

NT Writers' Centre Review by Kingsley Gittins.

STEVEN SCHUBERT’S MANDATORY MURDER examines in great detail the scenario which led to the 2011 murder of Ray Nicefero down the track in Katherine. The former ABC Katherine reporter, now based in Alice Springs, systematically separates fact from rumour and highlights supposition with the careful ease of a practiced journalist. 

The first two thirds of the book deal with the complicated background and relationships of Nicefero and those involved with his murder, as well as the sometimes-farcical investigation into his death. 

What’s interesting is that, despite well-researched details on the facts of the case, the book actually raises more questions than it answers. How have young men become so naïve and removed from society that they don’t even recognise they’re part of a conspiracy to murder? How do we tackle domestic abuse in remote areas of the NT? Is it possible to bridge the significant social divides in outback communities? All these issues lie at the heart of Ray Nicefero’s murder.

The second part of the book deals primarily with the trial of Zak Grieve, who is currently serving the longest sentence, despite [most likely] not being present for the actual murder. Whether you believe him to be gullibly innocent or as guilty as those who physically carried out the act, his lengthy time behind bars raises important questions about mandatory sentencing laws in the NT, and across Australia.

Ultimately, it is his story that makes this book relevant and a necessary read.

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