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In 1980, Maria James was found murdered in the back of her Thornbury bookshop. In the years since, her death (and its mysterious circumstances) have haunted her two sons, and dogged Detective Ron Iddles. One of Australia’s most respected homicide detectives, the now-retired Iddles has never really let the unsolved killing go. It was his first case.

The Maria James cold case caught the attention of ABC journalist Rachael Brown, who launched an exhaustive two-year investigation which ultimately spawned the Walkley Award-winning true-crime podcast Trace. In the podcast, Brown revisits the initial suspects, discovers a new one, and uncovers information that could have shocking implications for the Catholic Church. In a new book, Trace: Who Killed Maria James?, Brown further unravels the story of Maria’s death and reveals the fascinating details of her relentless investigation.

This event comes as the Coroner is expected to decide whether to hold a fresh inquest into the death of Maria James. Brown will speak alongside Ron Iddles and Maria’s son Mark James – their first public appearance together – to discuss the case, its insistent questions and the uncommon task of investigating a murder in the public arena with host Myf Warhurst.

Hill of Content will be our bookseller at this event.


Rachael Brown

Rachael Brown is an investigative journalist with the ABC. She’s held several postings, including Europe Correspondent from 2010-2013. She’s the creator, investigator and host of the ABC’s pioneer true-crime podcast, Trace. Rachael’s review of the 1980 cold case of Maria Ja... Read more

Ron Iddles

Ron Iddles served 42 years with Victoria Police. This included 25 years as a homicide investigator, during which time he investigated over 300 homicides and was involved in over 200 trials at the Melbourne Supreme Court. He is considered a subject matter expert with regards to criminal investigatio... Read more

Mark James

Mark James is the older son of Maria James. He was just 13 years old when his mum was murdered at the back of her second-hand bookshop in Thornbury, on 17th June 1980. Mark and his younger brother Adam have been campaigning for more than five years to have their mum’s case re-looked at, incl... Read more

Myf Warhurst

Myf Warhurst grew up in regional Victoria and studied music and fine arts at Melbourne University. After writing arts and music stories for The Age and street magazine Inpress, she became Managing Editor of Inpress in 1999. After her first radio gig as showbiz reporter on Merrick and Rosso̵... Read more


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