Review: The Betrayal by Y.A. Erskine

Title: The Betrayal

Author: Y.A. Erskine

Published: Bantam Australia May 2012

Synopsis: Tasmania is in the grip of one of the longest, bleakest winters on record and it’s particularly icy at the Hobart Police Station. Of the many golden rules in policing, one is especially sacred: what happens at work stays at work. So when a naive young constable, Lucy Howard, makes an allegation of sexual assault against a respected colleague, the rule is well and truly broken. Soon the station is divided. From Lucy’s fellow rookies right up to the commissioner himself – everyone must take a side. With grudges, prejudices and hidden agendas coming into play, support arrives from the unlikeliest of corners. But so too does betrayal . Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on May 14, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Random House Australia}

My Thoughts:

Linked to The Brotherhood, the stunning debut by Australian crime author, and ex-police officer, Y.A. Erskine, The Betrayal is as equally compelling.

“Not drunk. Had sex. No hangover. No memory.”

It’s been two weeks since Constable Lucy Howard shared a celebratory drink with a trusted colleague, Special Operation Group officer Nick Greaves and woke up naked in his bed with no idea what happened in between. Blaming one too many drinks Lucy fled, disgusted with herself for betraying her boyfriend and decided to forget it ever happened. It’s not until she is taking the statement of a victim of sexual assault that she realises that Nick had drugged and raped her and takes the extraordinarily brave step of making an official complaint against the popular constable. In a case of he said/she said, Lucy’s allegation rocks the Tasmanian police force to it’s core, exposing an ugly vein of misogyny, corruption and betrayal.
The Betrayal is linked to The Brotherhood primarily by its cast, Lucy Howard, for example, was the rookie constable who was partnering Sergeant John White when he was killed in the line of duty. Erskine also picks up threads of the story left unfinished in The Brotherhood, giving us some insight in to the longer term fall out for those involved in the case, including the perpetrator. The same format is used to tell the story, a third person narrative divided amongst thirteen characters, many of them familiar such as Detective Will Torino, the journalist, Tim Roberts, and Constable Cameron Walsh. As the story unfolds, the shifts in view provide a different perspective of not only the case involving Lucy and Nick but also a wider view of the force as Erskine continues to explore corruption in the police force.
The Betrayal is as confronting as The Brotherhood, perhaps more so because of the nature of the incident and Erskine’s brutal honesty about the legal outcomes for victims of sexual assault. Lucy is well aware that prosecution is unlikely but decides that as a police officer, and for her own peace of mind, she must report Nick no matter the consequences. As an elite member of SOG, Nick has an enviable status amongst the force, on top of which he is handsome and charming. Much like in any sexual assault case, stereotypical attitudes come in to play and are exacerbated by the status of the defendant. Lucy is accused of false reporting, targeted in a smear campaign, harassed and physically threatened. Nick’s mates rally to protect not only his reputation but also their own secrets and I honestly felt sick at a scene where a few of Lucy’s female colleagues trash her gleefully. When I learnt that the initial events of The Betrayal are a thinly veiled admission of an incident in Erskine’s own eleven year police career I was stunned. Erskine confesses she decided not to press charges against her assailant, certain her case wouldn’t have stood a chance and unwilling to be further victimised by the media, the system and her colleagues. Lucy’s story then is a case of ‘what if?’ and unfortunately, as disturbing as it is, I think it’s entirely possible it would have been much worse than what Erskine has imagined.

The Betrayal is a confronting but utterly compelling novel, Erskine exposes the underbelly of policing that society prefers to remain ignorant of. Dark, gritty and raw I was fascinated and repulsed in almost equal measure. This is a stunning piece of crime fiction and I recommend The Betrayal, and The Brotherhood, without reservation.

I am thrilled that later today, Yvette Erskine will be a guest of Book’d Out as part of my AWW feature. Make sure you stop back to learn more about Erskine and the story behind the story of The Betrayal.

*Just an FYI: It is estimated that in Australia only 1 in 10 cases of sexual assault that go before the courts result in any conviction and in 60% of those cases the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge.(Australian Institute of Criminology 2009)

Available to Purchase at

@Random House I @Borders I @Booktopia

@Amazon {Kindle & Print}@BookDepository I Google Play

Also available from YA Erskine

About the Author

Y.A. Erskine spent eleven years in the Tasmania Police Service. She was active in front-line policing and served as a detective in the CIB. She is also an historian with an honours degree in early modern history. Y.A. Erskine lives in Melbourne and is happily married with two dogs.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tea Time with Marce
    May 22, 2012 @ 07:37:18

    Shellyrae, wow, this one sounds amazing, definitely gut wrenching. I’m not surprised by the stats, so very very sad and stunning at times. Will add to my wishlist.



  2. Teddyree
    May 22, 2012 @ 08:56:03

    This sounds intense and one I’m now busting to read. Thanks so much for the review, I can’t wait to try a new-to-me Aussie author!



  3. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    May 22, 2012 @ 12:48:31

    I’ve heard wonderful things about Erskine’s work, but I’m not sure that I have the stomach for these–I find it really hard to read anything dealing with sexual harassment, assault or rape.



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      May 22, 2012 @ 15:47:51

      The assault itself is sparingly described Stephanie but I do understand your wariness about the subject



  4. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    May 22, 2012 @ 15:28:20

    I go along with Stephanie’s comments; compelling reading, but not for everyone.



  5. Trackback: AWW Feature: Y.A. Erskine and the secret behind The Betrayal « book'd out
  6. Amritorupa Kanjilal
    May 23, 2012 @ 15:16:24

    Hello Shellyrae,
    the book sounds brilliant, and chilling. Date rape by drugging is no longer a one-off incident, it is something all of us are warned about. but perhaps more frightening is reporting a case of sexual harrassment at the workplace and then not being believed.
    In light of the fact that this is based on the author’s own experience, it sounds like an explosive read. i hope to be able to read and review it soon.
    First time on your blog, and I liked it very much. You have a very precise style of reviewing which i loved. following you now…
    Please do visit my blog about books at, and if you like it, please follow!



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      May 23, 2012 @ 15:56:49

      Thank you for the follow Amritorupa, I will be sure to visit our blog and poke around. I hope you enjoy The Betrayal if you get the chance to read it.



  7. Sarah
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 21:45:08

    I really want to read this Shelleyrae as I loved ‘The Brotherhood’. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.



  8. Trackback: Updates…New Releases…Links (or all the things we’ve missed in recent weeks) | Fair Dinkum Crime
  9. Elizabeth Lhuede
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 16:07:39

    Thanks for your review. I finally got the time to read The Betrayal, after having really enjoyed The Brotherhood. Like you, Shelleyrae, I found the novel confronting – and also felt sickened by that scene with Lucy’s female colleagues, and much else besides. The glimpses into the points of view of the men surrounding Lucy had me reeling: the portrayal of them is so harsh, so critical and cynical – especially in regard to their attitudes toward women. I’m still processing what I felt about the story overall.



  10. Trackback: The Betrayal by Y A Erskine: a scathing insight « Devoted Eclectic
  11. Trackback: Crime 2012 releases: What’s being reviewed? | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog
  12. Trackback: Six Degrees of Separation: Three Women to Unmentionables | book'd out

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