Reviews

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This book is one South Carolina journalist’s effort to seek justice and spread truth amid one of the most salacious cases in recent memory, the Murdaugh family murders. Investigative journalist Matney was on the low-country scoop from the 2019 boat crash involving Paul Murdaugh that eventually uncovered the shocking criminal activity of his father, South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh. Publishing constant stories about the family’s power and depravity as crimes surrounding them continued to unfold, Matney prioritized genuine relationships with sources, hustled to be the first person reviewing legal and financial evidence as it was released, and committed fully to serving the victims through her work. As her supplemental Murdaugh Murders podcast topped the streaming charts, lawyers representing the Murdaughs began taunting her publicly—a sure sign she had upset the system. Matney shares all she endured in the process of her reporting: sexism and harassment from the public, condescension from her coastal elite peers, and the loss of a platform when corporate consolidation at her local paper became detrimental to good reporting. Matney is committed to justice in her writing, and her book is an important look at the sacrifices journalists make and the corruption they wade through in pursuit of the truth.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

As the host of the Murdaugh Murders Podcast and an award-winning journalist, Matney fights daily to discover the truth, amid corrupt local officials and other hindrances. In this book, she focuses on the family of Alex Murdaugh, a former lawyer sentenced to life in prison for the murders of his wife and one of his sons, Paul. The patriarch also plead guilty to 22 counts of federal fraud and money laundering. Matney doesn't try to make this the definitive story about the crimes; they made national headlines, so many readers already know the details. Instead, she takes readers through the obstacles she's encountered since 2019 in her reporting on the Murdaugh family, their alleged crimes, and the victims and their families; for example, Matney faced institutional sexism and death threats. Her book is well written, full of breathless accounts of secret communications from locals as she and fellow journalist Liz unravel how Paul Murdaugh got off easy for a fatal boating accident. They also reveal more details surrounding the murder of Alex's son and wife. Like her podcast, Matney is blunt in her views. VERDICT True-crime fans will savor this inside look.—Harry Charles


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Murdaugh Murders podcaster Matney details her experiences covering South Carolina’s infamous Murdaugh family in this propulsive memoir cowritten with New York Magazine editor Murnick. In only her second journalism job, at South Carolina’s Island Packet, Matney was plunged into the Murdaugh story in the wake of Paul Murdaugh’s deadly 2019 boating accident. As she dug into the accident, Matney discovered hints of much deeper, longer-running transgressions, and spent years researching records and cultivating sources to piece together the links between Paul’s father, Alex Murdaugh, and a series of mysterious deaths and financial wrongdoings. Fighting overly cautious editors and online threats, Matney eventually broke from the Packet to tell the story in her podcast. When Paul and his mother were murdered in 2021, making national news, Matney’s reporting on Alex provided the public with crucial context before his 2023 conviction for the killings. Matney and Murnick smartly spread the focus around, giving more weight than readers might expect to Matney’s early reporting in order to establish the Murdaugh family’s m.o., and they write with the unshowy momentum of the best investigative reporting. The result is both an engrossing true crime saga and a galvanizing ode to boots-on-the-ground journalism. Agent: Meredith Miller, UTA. (Nov.)


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A journalist’s memoir of covering the infamous Murdaugh family murders in South Carolina. Writing with Murnick, Matney chronicles how she was a young, hardworking journalist when she moved to the Hilton Head area to work at a small publication called the Island Packet. “I wanted to be a real investigative reporter who had the time and resources to dig into a story and produce work that made a difference,” she writes. Instead, her employer prioritized reporting that would “generate a lot of clicks,” which, in the coastal Southeast, meant stories about sharks, alligators, and hurricanes. Nearly three years into Matney’s tenure at the Packet, she received a tip about a boat crash involving a driver “from a family of powerful lawyers.” The driver turned out to be Paul Murdaugh, whose “daddy had everyone in law enforcement in his pocket.” The boat crash killed one of the teenagers on board; two years later, Paul would also be dead, murdered alongside his mother at the wealthy family’s hunting lodge. In a personable narrative filled with appealing local color, Matney explains how, as she dug deeper into the Murdaugh family history, she became increasingly invested in the outcome of the boat crash case, particularly when her reporting led her to understand just how above the law the family was in the region. She was particularly moved by the story of another murder allegedly associated with the Murdaughs—that of Stephen Smith, a gay nursing student who was found dead on a roadside in 2015. The author takes us from her departure from the Packet to FITSnews, through the launch of her hit podcast, the Murdaugh Murders. She is clear about the toll the work takes on her mental health, noting how “the Murdaughs’ depravity and unhinged online trolls had permeated my every moment.” In a sea of Murdaugh-related media, this personal narrative stands out. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Back