Reviewed by: David Pickup
Author: Mark Tedeschi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
ISBN: 9781922052292
Price: £12.99

I guarantee that this will be one of the most extraordinary books you ever read. It is a partly fictionalised account of the death of a woman in Australia in the early part of last century. It tells of how suspicion fell on her husband, who was tried and convicted of her murder.

It is an interesting, vivid account of a murder trial seen from the vantage point of all the leading figures involved. But what makes the story unusual is the man who was charged with the murder was actually a woman. Eugenia lived for 22 years as a man, Harry Crawford – and during that time officially married twice.

Described by the publisher as ‘one of the most extraordinary criminal trials in legal history’, this is a tale that has apparently been written about several times in Australia, but is less well known in this country. My only concern about the book is that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction (or at least supposition).

The author is Mark Tedeschi QC (born 1952), a leading Australian criminal law barrister, professor, photographer and author. He has been involved in a number of high-profile cases.

Lawyers will enjoy looking for comparisons between our criminal and legal systems and those of Australia. There was the expected press frenzy over the details of the ‘marriage’, with Eugenia, aka Harry, branded as a ‘complete outcast and a serious menace to the moral fabric of society’. One is left wondering, if the circumstances were repeated, would people be more tolerant?

David Pickup is a partner at Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott