The Christchurch Civic Crèche Case

A City Possessed - by Lynley Hood - Index

A City Possessed - Reviews


The Nelson Mail
March 27, 2002

In-depth study of creche case
Book review by Paula Batters

A City Possessed:
The Christchurch Civic Creche Case
by Lynley Hood.
Publisher: Longacre Press 2001

From the very first chapter, it soon becomes clear that author Lynley Hood is not adverse to pulling punches.

 Dealing with the sad and shocking story of one of New Zealand's most high-profile criminal cases, this is a book to be taken seriously.

 Cataloguing events surrounding and leading up to the Christchurch Civic Creche sex abuse allegations, this is not for the faint-hearted as Hood attempts to break down the wall of tall-tales, gossip and intrigue by carefully sifting the fact from the fiction.

 Compelling as it is, this is not an easy read and would be of most interest to those with some connection to the case and to those who have dealt with the horrible fact of child abuse.

 Through 15 chapters, Hood is careful to lay out her groundwork.

 This was obviously not a work undertaken lightly, as Hood writes,``researching and writing this book often felt like the literary equivalent of a solo crossing of Antarctica''.

 The result of seven years' work, A City Possessed is an in-depth look at what went on behind the headlines.

 Detailed background, in-depth interviews with most of those people closely involved gives the impression Hood has endeavoured to leave no stone unturned in her quest for truth.

 A work of almost academic proportions, the book is a daunting prospect at first sight with more than 600 pages seeming a lot to wade through.

 There are parts that are heavy-going but I felt compelled to keep reading as Hood cut through the jungle of gossip, lies and embellishments that surrounded the case.

 Although dealing with such an emotive issue, Hood manages to maintain a non-biased approach, giving the reader space and material to make up their own mind. However, in places Hood is not against giving the occasional gentle push in a particular direction, but never presumes it is okay to judge for the reader.

 A meticulous analysis into the events surrounding Peter Ellis's conviction, this is a book sure to provoke a strong response by showing how such a case could happen and why.

 Hood devoted years to researching and writing A City Possessed, and it shows. Even if the subject matter leaves a nasty aftertaste, it is a book that makes a definite impression