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PAULA DONEMAN is chief police reporter at The Courier-Mail, Brisbane

PAULA DONEMAN is chief police reporter at The Courier-Mail, Brisbane. Ms Doneman has a thorough knowledge of the interaction between police, criminal, and political culture in Queensland, so readersvoice.com asked Ms Doneman about her favorite true crime books, and a bit about reporting news.

READER’S VOICE: Can you tell me your favorite true crime books?

PAULA DONEMAN: SINS OF THE BROTHER-(by Mark Whittacker and Les Kennedy) about Ivan Milat, the backpacker serial killer (sentenced to life for the murders of seven backpackers from 1989-92). It was well-researched and it sets the stage for an amazing story. It built a detailed picture of Ivan Milat and his family, and you understand how he ended up being a serial killer. It was full of intrigue and it answered all my questions about Milat. The authors took their time and didn’t rush the book out straight after the trial. It was just a masterpiece of true-crime writing.

THE MAFIA ENCYCLOPEDIA (by Carl Sifakis) – It simplified the who’s who of a very complex organised crime family. (American-based mafia). It was very well-researched.

THREE CAN KEEP A SECRET IF TWO ARE DEAD – by a Canadian journalist (Yves Lavigne) who wrote about the Hells Angels. It was one of the few books that didn’t subscribe to the propaganda and bullshit peddled by outlaw motorcycle gangs.

I’ve read so many books over the years, I can never remember. RV: What about other books, like novels for example? Any favorites?

PD: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (by Harper Lee) – This would have to be my all-time favorite book. Anything by John Irving. And I love biographies and books like WONDERLAND AVENUE(by Danny Sugarman). I’ve got a real love of music and movies. The people who excel in movies, singing, acting, dancing, that sort of stuff.


RV: What attracted you to police and crime reporting?

PD: I always find it hard to answer that question because I don’t really know. I have a natural curiosity about the criminal mind. That could partly come from being the daughter of a police officer and a psychologist.

What I love about crime reporting is that while it takes you to the darkest corners of the human mind, you also see amazing feats of the human spirit, and you see ordinary people reacting in extraordinary circumstances, and that can be from police to victims, survivors, heroes, bystanders. Crime itself is a melting pot of society.

RV: Where have you travelled to cover stories for The Courier-Mail?

PD: Childers backpacker fire. Rockhampton I spent the most time out of anywhere in Queensland and that’s for a variety of stories. Port Douglas chasing the ghost of Monica Lewinsky.

RV: How do you juggle the interests of the paper against those of the police when you write your stories about them?

PD: Tricky, yes, and all I’ll say is it’s a daily shit sandwich and a juggling act of diplomacy, and I somehow managed never to compromise myself as a journalist.

RV: Do you have any future projects in mind?

PD: Writing my book on accused serial killer Leonard John Fraser. I’d lke to do some documentaries with my sister. Lots of travel.

-copyright Simon Sandall.