You only live once

A family tragedy in Sydney

To hear that Pamela Burton was writing about the deaths of Nick Waterlow, the prominent gallery director and exhibition curator, and his daughter Chloe, came as a surprise. Anthony Waterlow, Nick’s son and Chloe’s older brother, killed them both in Chloe’s Clovelly house, where he had been invited for dinner, and then, with the same knife, attacked her two-year-old daughter. Sydney was transfixed by the event for the weeks after 9 November 2009, while police hunted for Anthony. Everyone knew the awful facts from the media coverage: what was there to add? After her well-received book on Mary Gaudron (2010), for Burton to take on another unauthorised biography might seem like masochism. The Waterlows wanted to protect their privacy, and friends murmured about exposing unhealed wounds to prurience and sensationalism. Others worried about the effect the book might have when Anthony is eventually released from the Forensic Hospital at Malabar. Others again expected a dry legal narrative from Burton, a former barrister in Canberra, who could bring neither the expertise of a psychiatrist to Anthony’s case, nor that of an art historian to Nick Waterlow’s colourful career.

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