The blood on my hands by Shannon O’Leary

Shannon O'Leary“I used pseudonyms in the book in order to protect my family. He was never charged despite the police knowing about his activity. The police investigations were case files and are not available to the public. People outside Australia would not be aware that many of the missing person files in NSW in the 1960s and 70s disappeared under one of the governments of the time (there are only about 6 files for the 1960s),” says Shannon O’Leary.

This is the story of a girl, Shannon O’Leary, growing up in a highly disturbed family where no man seems to shy away from sexual assault and violence and where the women have nowhere to go. Each relationship discussed is dark.

The story is disturbing. I had to put it down now and then. I didn’t wanted to read on and yet the fluid writing style made me continue. The writing style keeps you engaged. The pace moves you seamlessly from one tragedy into the next.

The book’s focus is on the father who may be responsible for several murders. All victims were beaten and butchered without mercy. I am not going into details. As the violence is sickening and disturbing I must caution my readers. The details can become visual quickly. This isn’t to everyone’s taste.

Curious as I am, I checked for details about the author online. Through Shannon O’Leary’s Create Space page I learned some details about her life. Also, Book Publishing Services noted on their website that questions/interviews by email with the author are possible. So I emailed them.

I learned that Shannon O’Leary attended the universities of Sydney, Newcastle, and Macquarie. “C. MacKenzie” wrote the end notes. This is a writer/researcher who tried to verify elements of the story to support the author, and helped edit the book.

The cover design is actually a drawing made by the author when she was just 13 years old. “She [O’Leary] drew the picture on the cover when she was she was about 13. It is a representation of her father.” It is a very powerful drawing and I wondered whether there were more.  The answer that came back was “Yes, I have other paintings” and I got permission to show them here.

Avoidance by Shannon O'Leary

Avoidance by Shannon O’Leary (used with permission)

As for the future: “I am planning to write a follow-up about how my life progressed, there is so much more to tell. Also 2 other novels based on real people’s lives.”

It is horrible that Shannon O’Leary was exposed to so much violence from such a young age. If it wasn’t her mother who was abused (she often not just heard but also saw that happen) then it was she herself.

She writes near the end that for decades her sleep pattern was never solid and that she would wake at least three times a night. Until her tormentor passed away. But when he died he took many secrets to his grave.

I wish we knew more about the women in the book. I can only hope that one day we have more details.

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Reach by Shannon O'Leary

Reach by Shannon O’Leary (used with permission)

From the author’s Create Space page: “Shannon O’Leary (a pseudonym) is a prolific writer and performer. She is the author of several books of poetry and children’s stories, and she has won many awards for song-writing.

O’Leary has acted and directed on the stage and on Australian national TV, and she runs her own production company.

She has numerous graduate and post-graduate degrees in education, music, and science. She is a teacher and academic, has five children with her deceased former husband, and lives with her longtime partner in Sydney, Australia.”

You can contact her on FacebookTwitter, or look her up on Create Space.

Note: I received a copy of this book through Book Publicity Services in California in exchange for an honest review.