Review: Accidental Death? By Robin Bowles


Review: Accidental Death? When things may not be as they seem.

Author: Robin Bowles

Published: Scribe Publications, May 2018

Status: Read January 2019



My Thoughts:

Robin Bowles has published a number of true crime books covering some of Australia’s most high profile crimes, including the death of toddler Jaidyn Leskie, and the abduction and murder of English backpacker, Peter Falconio. She seems most interested in cases where the facts are uncertain, and it is this ambiguity she explores in Accidental Death?.

Bowles presents six interesting cases in this book, some with which I was familiar from media coverage, some not. They are all tragic tales of lives cut short, in which absolute culpability is not easily ascribed. I found ‘26 Seconds’ particularly maddening, and ‘There is a Kid Under the Water!’ utterly heartbreaking.

While her research seems thorough, Bowles is not simply an objective reporter of the facts. Though not necessarily a bad thing, her personal bias is often evident in her storytelling, which is generally unusual for the genre.

I thought Accidental Death? was a thought provoking read, an interesting examination of blame, guilt, and justice, and the lack thereof.



Available to Purchase from

Scribe Publications or your preferred retailer

Review & Giveaway: Escaping the Arroyo by Joyce Nance

Title: Escaping the Arroyo

Author: Joyce Nance

Published: June 2012

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on February 19, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Drawing on court documents, interviews, five years of research and Colene Bush’s first hand account, Escaping the Arroyo combines fact with considered conjecture to create a compelling account of an unspeakable crime.

Escaping the Arroyo is based on the tragic true story of college coeds, Julie Jackson and Colene Bush who were kidnapped at knife point by Michael Guzman from Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1981. Nineteen year old Julie was raped and murdered while twenty year old Colene was stabbed 33 times and left for dead by her callous attacker. Exhibiting an extraordinary instinct for survival, Colene crawled more than 150ft, negotiating two steep embankments, in search of help and survived to identify the young man who nearly destroyed her.

The book begins with a harrowing account of the moment Colene Bush was discovered, bloody and barely breathing, on the side of the I-40 by two young men who glimpsed her pale, partially nude body in the glare of their headlights.
The story then shifts to illustrate the personal histories of Michael Guzman, Julie Jackson and Colene Bush in short vignettes. I found this a little disorientating initially, often only two or three pages in length and the perspective identified by date and place rather than name, I found the changes abrupt but eventually a rhythm emerged, leading to the moment the lives of Michael, Julie and Colene collide.
The next section of the book covers the trial of Michael Guzman, who was sentenced to death for the murder of Julie and the attempted murder of Colene, despite his attempt at an insanity defense.
But for Colene, and Julie’s fiance, James, Guzman’s conviction was little comfort as they tried to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

The story of Escaping The Arroyo is compelling though the writing could do with a little more polish. I felt instances of awkward syntax and the intrusion of the authorial voice interrupted the flow of the narrative at times.

While I think Nance covers the case well, I would have liked to know a bit more about Colene’s life post attack. It can be inferred that Colene struggled badly after her experience but Nance only relates incidents, such as the inexplicable discrimination against Colene by the police and paramedic training institutions, without sharing any real insight into why they occurred.

A tribute to the victims of a vicious killer, Escaping the Arroyo is a fascinating account of a terrible crime and it’s aftermath, and it is a story I am glad Joyce Nance decided to tell. To Colene Bush, I extend my sympathy and my heartfelt admiration for her incredible bravery.

Available to Purchase


About the Author

Joyce Nance, award winning documentarian, video editor, Albuquerque Sports News publisher, and paralegal at the Public Defenders Office, has written her first book. Although she already has a degree in accounting, she is currently pursuing a second degree in Criminal Justice and working on her next true crime book. Originally from California, she now lives in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area.

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