BOOK CLUB: The Ballroom Murder

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The Ballroom Murder by Australian author Leigh Straw is a true crime story full of fascinating historical detail.

Perth Australia, 26th August 1925, Mr. Cyril Gidley, was enjoying the festivities at the annual St John of God Ball, Government House. Guests had come from across the city to enjoy the grand social occasion. Miss Audrey Jacob ), Mr. Gidley’s ex-fiancée, and her friend, Miss Annie Humphreys arrived in fancy dress. Audrey dressed as Pierrot and Annie as Pierrette.

Audrey and Annie were enjoying their evening dancing and socialising until Audrey noticed Cyril in the company of another young lady. This upset her and her mood changed, she left Annie on the dance floor in the company of a male guest.

After the song ended, she searched for Audrey, when she saw her, she was wearing a stunning blue evening gown.

Annie was eager to leave the ball as she lived a distance away; her clothes were at Surrey Chambers in Audrey’s rented room. When she asked her friend to accompany her, she declined as she wanted to talk with Cyril.

Audrey was waiting for Cyril at the top of the stairs overlooking the dance floor, when she saw him enter
the dance floor with Maude Mitchell, she descended the stairs and made her way to him.

At approximately 1.30am Audrey approaches Cyril on the dancefloor, points a revolver and shoots him in the chest at point blank range. She is led away by police and charged with murder.

Lawyer Arthur Haynes represents Audrey in the Supreme Court with a strong a case, she pleads not guilty to the charge of wilful murder, although by many it was seen to be an open and shut case.

When the twelve male jurors return with their verdict, the jury foreman made the announcement “NOT
GUILTY”. Audrey Jacob leaves court a free woman.

Author Leigh Straw delivers a story full of dramatic moments that have you eagerly turning the pages in anticipation of what’s going to happen next. The narrative will especially appeal to fans of real-life crime, with twists and turns of the plot leaving you asking for more.

The characters have defining traits that pop out of the pages and their lively interactions gave the narrative a realistic and appealing element.

I really enjoyed the author’s writing style; Straw has done her research and has used first-hand newspaper accounts from the day. Details to make up historical background are wonderful and rich; the primary setting comes to life with details that describe the ball and the various mannerisms and behaviours that match the time period.

This an absorbing novel filled with romance, suspense, and intrigue The Ballroom Murder is a book to spend your evening with. I highly recommend it.

Thank you, Beauty & Lace, and Fremantle Press for the opportunity to read and review.

ISBN: 9781760990572
Copy courtesy of the publisher: Fremantle Press

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Ballroom Murder by Leigh Straw. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

5 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Ballroom Murder

  1. The Ballroom Murder is a true crime story set in Perth in 1925. This is a fascinating look at the case and whether justice was really served.
    20 year old Audrey Jacob a Fremantle ‘flapper’ shoots her former fiancé Cyril Gidley in view of everyone attending the St John of God Hospital charity ball at Government House. Audrey is charged with wilful murder. Arthur Haynes becomes Audrey’s lawyer and he weaves a remarkably sympathetic case before a jury that finds her not guilty and sets her free.
    How did she escape not being found guilty?
    A really intriguing and interesting read and an Australian true crime story I had not heard of.

    I love history and this book certainly provides a rich history of a time when young women were finding their independence and looking for adventure in the 1920s. There is a lot of interesting background given about the victim, his friends and family and Audreys’ family and their life.

    Note: Read Audrey’s account of her life in gaol that was written for The Mirror newspaper at the end of the book. Also browse through the notes and references which detail the extensive research the author has undertaken

  2. Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Fremantle Press, for the opportunity to read and review Western Australia’s true crime story “The Ballroom Murder” by Leigh Straw. Non-fiction not usually being my first genre of choice, but, I was so intrigued by this story and Leigh Straw has done an incredible amount of research in bringing this story to life.

    It was so interesting reading the first hand newspaper articles of the event that took place in 1925, and the power of the press to influence, and the master manipulation game played by the editors, even down to careful positioning of accompanying photos of both Audrey and Cyril stretched across the front pages, with the added benefit of nothing like a ‘good murder’ to increase a newspapers circulation.

    Admittedly I did see that outcome coming, but It certainly did not take away from my enjoyment of the story. This book was an easy read, an enjoyable way to spend a couple of afternoons ensconced in a WA bygone era steeped in rich history.

    Glancing through Leigh’s back catalogue, which I can’t wait to get stuck into, I notice with intrigue it predominantly features the life and crimes of femme fatales of the Australian underworld.

  3. Murder on the dancefloor – a true Australian crime story.

    The Ballroom Murder by Leigh Straw is a captivating murder mystery based on true events. In 1925 at a charity ball in Perth, Audrey Jacob shot her ex-fiancé Cyril Gidley in full view of hundreds of people. This should have been a simple case of wilful murder but Audrey’s lawyer, Arthur Haynes successfully argued her case and she became a free woman.

    This story had me intrigued and I was keen to understand more of how the events played out. It was well-researched, moved along at a good pace and was hard to put down. The notes and references at the back of the book are also interesting. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Freemantle Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  4. The Ballroom Murder was a different book and storyline that I would otherwise read I found the initial part of the story was quite interesting and gave me, the reader a good visual story of the characters, a glimpse into their lives, the ball and the lead up to the shooting. I found it interesting that there was a lot of actual accounts from the various newspapers that supported the story for the lead up to and during the trial which gave the story a certain credibility in terms of the account of the trial. Unfortunately, I did find the rest of the book a little difficult to get into because it’s not my usual genre, and once the trial part of the book finished I found it hard to get into the extended story being told of Audrey’s life as a free adult and how her life continued. I did however find the book was well researched and those interested in learning more about this true Australian crime will likely enjoy it.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace and Freemantle Press for the opportunity to review The Ballroom Murder by Leigh Straw.

  5. I didn’t realise at first that what I was reading was a true story and that made it all the more interesting. It is not my usual genre but it was a good read and I enjoyed it for something different. It was very well researched and the last section included information to support this. The story had good character development and developed quite a rich story around Audrey the main character. I like how the author included a section into the future to illustrate where everyone ended up and that really tied off the story well.

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