Today I have finished reading Looking for Madeleine by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan and I sadly find I was right about my prediction that this book would be well-written enough to satisfy the masses that the McCanns are innocent of any involvement in their child's disappearance. As I read the narrative, I could feel myself starting to question their guilt and feeling my own guilt rising for ever thinking these two wonderful parents did anything questionable. Bravo, Summers and Swan, mission accomplished.
But, I know what they doing because I have experienced similar responses when I read well-constructed critical reviews of two of my own books, Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann and The Murder of Cleopatra, reviews written cleverly enough that I started doubting my own theories and wondering how I came up with them at all. I had to go back and reread my books to see what I really had said and then I could see exactly how these critics had deceived me with their reviews, using magician's tricks to obscure the truth. And, when you have an audience who is never going to read the source material (either because it is too much work or the reviewer doesn't bother to footnote where he gets his material or have a bibliography at the back of his book), the critic can blatantly lie as well and the reader will simply accept what he says. For example, a number of my detractors of The Murder of Cleopatra blithely stated I had done little research on her life and death, completely ignoring the extensive bibliography I included in the book (along with many footnotes). I have a wall of books on Cleopatra and Roman and Greek history, architecture, geography, seafaring, poisons, etc (which I read from beginning to end with notes in all the margins) and I have massive numbers of web searches on my computers where I looked for each and every reference I could find on issues related to analyzing the Pharaonic queen's history. Never mind the two trips I made to Egypt. But, "I did little research;" I just made up a theory out of thin air. Likewise, with Madeleine McCann. I read so many attacks taken totally out of context that I had to go and read exactly what I did say and why I said it and when I said it and what I said before and after I said it.Cherry-picking bits of info and then cleverly creating a narrative around them is the way readers can be deceived into believing what they are reading is factual and honest.
And this is what Summers and Swan do and do well. They cherry-pick facts which will support their narrative that the McCanns are innocent of any wrongdoing. Then, they weave an emotional story around them and find all the supports they can to bolster the "validity" of what they are saying. Any facts that are damning or that would raise questions are simple left out of the book. Glaringly so, to people who have followed this case and read the police files, but to those that know little except what they have seen in the media, they won't have a clue they aren't getting the whole story.
The other technique used by the detractors of the my two books and used heavily by Summers and Swan is the ad hominem attack. Those who attacked my Madeleine book spend a good deal of time trashing my professionalism. Attackers of Cleopatra book claim I can't properly analyze her life because I am not a historian. Summers and Swan infers that all those who question the McCanns are but haters or publicity seekers or incompetent morons.
Finally, Summers and Swan set themselves up, without any previous training, as better detectives and profilers than anyone else who has looked at the case. I have no problem with people who have not been trained analyzing something and then presenting good evidence to support their theory; in fact, I have been sometimes surprised by the good deductive reasoning of some lay people which is why I don't knock people who don't have a degree in a field for making a hypothesis. Sometimes experts are wrong and nonexperts are right. I don't object to Summers and Swan giving their opinion at some point (although for investigative journalists I should think this should be kept to a dull roar) but I do take issue with their incredibly arrogant stance that their deductions are clearly the right ones and those who question the McCanns in any way are one hundred percent wrong.
I won't bother to go into detail on all the inaccuracies in the book, the deceptions, the glaring omissions...I will leave that to other reviewers. My final thought on this book is simply that it has achieved its purpose; to create a final narrative in favor of the McCanns and abduction. I don't think it matters how well it sells or if it has a bunch of one-star reviews on Amazon because this book isn't about sales but propaganda. I do believe this book was commissioned and the publisher had no issue with putting the book out there because it wasn't going to be Carter-Rucked and might sell well enough for a profit (as long as they didn't have to spend money on publicity which clearly they did not). I find it extremely odd that the publishers did not send out copies prior to publication for reviews - an extremely common practice and one you would think would be done with authors with a name - and I have to wonder if part of the deal was actually an agreement to not encourage major reviews that might put a negative spin on the book. "Haters" on Amazon are not taken so seriously as are book reviewers with major newspapers and magazines. It will be interesting to see if anyone does dare to write a less than favorable review of this book, but there was a deafening silence in reviewland when this book hit the stands and one has to wonder why.
As I stated a few posts back, I will not be doing any more running commentary on the McCann case. I feel this book is the final spin to the public of the McCann's innocence, the trial will finish up (and I doubt in a very positive way, but I hope I am wrong), and Scotland Yard will wind down with either a dead suspect or a statement that they have a good idea of who kidnapped and killed Maddie but they can't get enough cooperation with Portugal or enough evidence to pursue the evildoers to prosecution. Whether the truth will ever out remains to be seen.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown
September 19, 2014
Published: July 27, 2011
By Pat Brown
What really happened to Madeleine Beth McCann in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007? Was she abducted as the Gerry and Kate have claimed or did something happen to Madeleine on May 3 in the vacation apartment and the incident covered up? Criminal Profiler Pat Brown analyzes the evidence and takes the readers through the steps of profiling, developing a theory that is intriguing and controversial.