The Christchurch Civic Crčche Case

A City Possessed - by Lynley Hood - Index

Book Reviews


Michael Bassett - Former Labour Cabinet minister, Writer, historian - Brief review
I followed the case when it first went to court ... Then I read a magazine article in North and South -- I was pretty edgy about that, as was my wife. Then, of course, the Lynley Hood book came out. So I'm frankly not convinced by the inquiries that have taken place so far.

Paula Batters - Book review for Nelson Mail
From the very first chapter, it soon becomes clear that author Lynley Hood is not adverse to pulling punches.  Dealing with the sad and shocking story of one of New Zealand's most high-profile criminal cases, this is a book to be taken seriously …. A meticulous analysis into the events surrounding Peter Ellis's conviction, this is a book sure to provoke a strong response by showing how such a case could happen and why.  Hood devoted years to researching and writing A City Possessed, and it shows

Mike Behrens Q.C. - Book review for Manawatu Standard
This is not bandwagon stuff. Hood makes her points clinically and with the authority of an historian who has left no source unturned. Her approach is to state a position and then take lots and lots of words to explain why that is so. It is a technique that works to produce a sickness in the gut……A City Possessed is remarkable and notable work. It is full of erudition and sarky wit and is in a style that can strip paint

Lisa Brown - Book review for Journal Australia & NZ Psychiatry
Whether or not you agree with author Lynley Hood's views on the falseness of the allegations is not the point of reading this book; the book effectively raises questions that anyone in the area of child sexual abuse will find interesting and challenging

Chris Burke - Book review for North & South
Lynley Hood has left no stone unturned in her 672-page examination of the Civic Creche saga, A City Possessed, that took her seven years to write. The title reflects the conclusion she draws: that a “moral panic” took place within elements of Christchurch society, driven by madcap political fashions, homophobia or old-fashioned Puritanism

Sandra Carson - Book review for Marlborough Express
Hood paints the picture, calmly and without prejudice, of the various fears and factors that made a Peter Ellis and Civic Creche case inevitable somewhere at some time. It had happened in America and in the UK, and what happens there, sooner or later, tends to happen here…… Don't be put off by the size of this volume. Lynley Hood is a consummate investigative writer. She provides a painless way of gaining a great deal of normally obscure knowledge and clarification.

Chris Chilton - Book review for Southland Times
Time and distance from the alleged events allow for a more objective, rational perspective, divorced from the witch-burning mentality that did in Peter Ellis. Hood's book provides the background, the context and a wealth of evidence the jury members never heard

Barry Colman - National Business Review publisher - Brief review
I think there's a really huge disquiet among New Zealanders everywhere about what happened in that trial. We have got a deep sense of unease about the entire episode. That book has been an absolute revelation in this whole affair

Michael Corballis - Professor of Psychology - Book review for NZ Listener
This courageous book, which has already featured in the pages of this magazine, ia a detailed, step-by-step account of what happened in the Christchurch Civic Creche case. Lynley Hood has set this sorry affair in the context of the wave of hysteria over ritual child abuse that swept the Western world in the 1980s and early 1990s, and examined some of the historical precedents

Peter de Graaf - Book review for Hawkes Bay Today
It's an edifying, meticulously researched read, but this 600-page work is unlikely to be a popular stocking filler. Instead, it's a book that will (or should) be studied by lawyers, sociologists, psychologists and childhealth workers

Lucy di Maggio - Book review for Woman Today
Dunedin author Lynley Hood, not only thought deeply about the case but went on to devote seven years of her life to delving into it…. But whether A City Possessed will prompt any action remains to be seen. The attitude of, the Government to the case, at this point, makes that seem unlikely

Sarah Farquhar - Book review for NZ Herald
A City Possessed is scholarly in tone but is a gripping and accessible read…..Indeed this is a book that is likely to be referred to by lawyers, historians, sociologists, social workers, child health professionals, psychiatrists and, I hope, educational administrators for years to come.

Ian Freckelton - Book review for NZ Law Journal
A City Possessed is a well-constructed and exhaustively researched account of one of the most important episodes in New Zealand's criminal justice history. It is well edited and accessibly presented. Few will read the book without disagreeing with some part of it and without experiencing a sense of alarm. But the eliciting of such responses is not the sole measure of the worth of Hood's work

Ian Freckelton - Book review for NZ Lawyer
A City Possessed is a landmark work….. It is well written, excellently edited and professionally presented. It walks the difficult line between a scholarly work and a book that is engaging and accessible. Ultimately, it does so successfully, entertaining, provoking and chronicling an extraordinary legal and social saga which is deserving of the kind of in-depth treatment given to it by Lynley Hood

Pam Freyd - Editorial Book review for FMS Newsletter
This fascinating and important book covers 30 years of New Zealand social history to explain the travesty of justice in the Ellis trial. Factors such as the merger in the early 1980s of feminism, religious conservatism and the child protection movement; changes in laws… etc…

Anthony Frith - Book review for Varsity
Anyone who has reached their own conclusions about Ellis’s guilt without reading Hood’s extraordinarily well researched and argued A City Possessed should bite their tongue and hold their pride until they have read it. At the risk of repeating what dozens of others had repeated ad nauseum, I will give a summary of some of the aspects that make Peter Ellis’s conviction unsafe, as discussed in Hood’s book

Stuart Grieve- Queen's Counsel, Barrister - Brief review
I was most impressed with the book. I didn't put it in the category of a lot of literature that comes out seeking new trials for people. This was in my view a much more scholarly and academic work. "I think it raised a sufficient number of serious issues about the reliability, objectivity, and general cogency of the whole inquiry, and to a lesser extent of the trial process, that warrants investigation

Cynthia Hawes - Book review for The Press
Lynley Hood's entry into the fray with her well written and closely researched book is a brave stand for the application of objectivity and rationality, qualities which she considers to have been seriously lacking during the investigation and trial of Peter Ellis….. However, it is an embarrassment for the legal profession that it has taken the efforts of a person who is not one of them to examine and expose the flaws of the Peter Ellis case in such a book. Lynley Hood is to be congratulated.

Peter Hawes - Book review for Massey University "Off Campus"
Lynley Hood's deconstruction of the Ellis case has been reviewed plenteously and fairly enough - I have yet to read a critique that disagrees with her findings. But none have captured the outrage that the book has engendered in many breasts

Dr Jim Hefford - Book review for New Zealand GP
Anyone reading this book would have to agree there remains no further need for any new examination of the Peter Ellis case. Hood, a scientist, has done it for them - exhaustively over seven years - with the result compressed into these 600 pages. Her book is a devastating Indictment of the virtual reality rituals of the courtroom, and of significant sections of the counsellors and doctors Involved In the sexual abuse field

Witi Ihimaera - Convenor judging panel, 2002 Montana Book Awards - Brief review
An extraordinary book that cannot be ignored. With great tenacity, Hood leads us to an understanding of how the events in Christchurch could have occurred. The courage of Dr Hood in pursuing the book’s publication has given us a narrative that, for all its controversy, makes it a stand-out not just in this year but in any year

Alison Jones - Director of the Institute for Research on Gender - Brief review
Ms. Hood is clearly interested in the truth, and in careful research, rather than holding a view and sticking with it through thick and thin. This is an important book - clearly written, well-researched, assiduously referenced, and a compelling read

Jeffrey Masson, Emma Davies - Book review for NZ Herald
If the research of the first three chapters of Lynley Hood's book A City Possessed is anything to go by, one should be cautious about her analysis…. The standard of scholarship of the first three chapters of Lynley Hood's book is poor.  Response by Lynley Hood: The reviewers rely on statistics that have been either discredited or misrepresented to support their otherwise insupportable beliefs

Jeffrey Masson, Emma Davies - Book review for NZ Law Journal
Our comments relate to the first three chapters of her book - Unlike some of the petitioners, we cannot comment on the guilt or innocence of Peter Ellis, but if the research of the first three chapters of Lynley Hood's book is anything to go by, one should be cautious about the neutrality of her analysis.   Response by Felicity Goodyear Smith: Hood has accurately identified that gross inflation of the extent and effects of CSA was a driving force in this case. Masson and Davies accuse Hood of minimising these figures; however the references they use to shore up this accusation are seriously flawed

Anne Mathers - Book review for Evasion
Lynley Hood was taking on a huge topic when she embarked on A City Possessed, and the size of the task is reflected in the heft of the resulting book. A percentage of the work is dedicated to setting the case in an era where feminism, a "believe-the-victim" ethos and new psychological theories around sexual abuse coincided with devastating consequences. Hood is obviously angry about what she sees as foolish sexual abuse "witch hunts" …

Gavin McLean - Book review for Otago Daily Times
This is an important, engrossing and, as I said at the start, a highly disturbing book. Whether you believe Peter Ellis's innocence or not - and I am inclined to - it is worth reading and discussing for the wider issues that emerge. At a time when educators and parents are lamenting the poor performance of boys in schools, any ideological and legal barriers to males entering the caring and teaching professions should be examined closely

Owen McShane - Book review for National Business Review
A City Possessed is the title of Lynley Hood's book on the Christchurch Civic Creche case. Every New Zealander should read it. You might think you have heard all you need to know about the Peter Ellis case. However, only the last half of the book is directly concerned with the trial. The first, and more interesting half, provides a short history of witch-hunts in particular and hysteria in general

John Monro - Book Review
First, I have to hand it to Lynley, this book is a major tour-de-force of investigative journalism. Well written, thoroughly researched, coherently laid out, painstakingly prepared and with a conclusion that Ellis is innocent arising as a perfectly logical consequence of the material presented

Michael Morrissey - Book review for Investigate
Lynley Hood, an accomplished biographer, has focused her considerable talents on the highly controversial Peter Ellis case. This is a remarkably thorough book which may succeed in prompting an eventual clearance of Ellis's name - a vindication which many believe is overdue

Greg Newbold - Book review for The Best
Having untangled and examined the numerous threads that make up the Peter Ellis story, Lynley Hood had to weave them into a comprehensible and readable format. The result is nothing less than outstanding; an encyclopaedic work of professorial quality. Hood's 616-page treatment is a compelling authority; an opus so deep, detailed, insightful and comprehensive, that nobody could now be said to have an informed opinion about the case without having read her book.

Patrick - Book review for Otago University "Critic"
Lynley Hood's book about New Zealand's most notorious child abuse controversy - A City Possessed - is so meticulously researched, so compelling, so definitive that I expected her answer to any question I could ask to be: "Read my book".

John Prebble - Professor of law, Victoria University - Brief review
I thought the book a remarkable piece of work. It showed that the verdicts weren't safe. The (Government's) response to Lynley Hood's book has been that it doesn't raise any more facts and if and when more facts emerge, possibly the Government will do something about it. "The problem with that is that it fails to take into account that the whole process of the case from start to finish has not examined the facts in the way in which Lynley Hood has.

Mike Prouting - Book review for Invercargill Rotary
For those of you with an interest in justice and child protection, this is an absorbing and challenging read. Professor Mark Henaghan, Dean of Law, University of Otago comments: "This is a work of scholarship of the highest academic standard . . . the interpretation is a very important one, and is clearly supported by the evidence"

Sarah Putt - Book review for XtraMSN
A City Possessed is a brave book, a wise book and while it should be required reading for police, lawyers and social workers, it is important for ordinary, everyday citizens too. It makes for fascinating, if somewhat disquieting, reading

Katherine Rich, M.P - Book review for The Star
When I picked up Lynley Hood's 600-page book A City Possessed: The Christchurch Civic Creche Case, I worried that I wouldn’t have the time or the inclination to finish it. I shouldn’t have. The book is unputdownable (if there is such a word).

Bernard Robertson - Book review for Evening Post
The book is unusual because it takes in far more than just the story of the case. In particular Lynley Hood gives us an intelligent and astute criticism of changes made in 1989 to the rules of evidence for child sexual abuse cases and also of the limits, imposed by Parliament or by the court itself, to the Court of Appeal's powers to review cases properly on appeal. This book has already received plenty of publicity and the question has been asked "how can Lynley Hood be right and a High Court judge and jury, three reviews and two Court of Appeal decisions be wrong?" The reader will find that is not a fair question. As Hood makes clear, each of the judicial hearings and inquiries suffered from limitations which destroyed its usefulness as a genuine inquiry into the case

Bernard Robertson - Editorial for NZ Law Journal
One of Lynley Hood’s achievements, as a non-lawyer, is an astute criticism of the shortcomings of the various methods available to review criminal convictions. Each of the reviews and appeals suffered from some limitation, self-imposed or otherwise. A City Possessed is the first attempt at a review of the whole case from the investigation onwards

Val Sim - Report for Ministry of Justice
You have asked for a report on the book “A City Possessed” on the Christchurch Civic Crčche case.  In particular, you asked whether the book discloses any new information which might point to the need for further inquiry into the Peter Ellis case. ……..In our view, there is nothing in Ms Hood’s book which undermines Sir Thomas’ conclusion

Dave Smith - Book review for The Dominion
Lynley Hood's new book on the Christchurch Civic Creche case knits together the elements surrounding Peter Ellis's child abuse convictions into a valuable resource. Hood presents a passionate overview of what some see as a witch trial. …. Lynley Hood may not have got everything right about what happened at the infamous creche, but with searing passion she has authored a cogent overview of what posterity might view as New Zealand's equivalent of the Salem witch trials

Ian Stephenson - Book review for Refresh
A City Possessed is a carefully researched and extensively documented record of the Christchurch Civic Creche Case. Lynley Hood’s analyses of the events of this case are discussed within a historical, sociological and legal context

Grahame Sydney - Otago Artist - Brief Review
Lynley has done something in this book which anyone who reads it will realise is really beyond discussion any more ... I'm just one of those who feels deeply uncomfortable

Jim Tucker - Book review for The Daily News
It takes great courage to step outside mainstream thought and suggest it is not OK to distort the law, condone over-zealous counselling and police-work, and cause collateral damage in a quest to rid the country of child molesters. This is what Hood, a 58-year-old Dunedin scientist, writer and grandmother, has done in this book

Graham Wright - Book review for Amazon
have just put down Lynley Hood's book, "A City Possessed", all 672 pages of it, and if I had any doubts about a miscarriage of justice, then such doubts are now completely dispelled. I cannot see how any reasonable person reading this book could harbour doubt on the innocence of Peter Ellis