In July 1978, two bodies were discovered in the sea off Guatemala. They were found to be the remains of Chris Farmer and his girlfriend Peta Frampton, two young British graduates. Having been beaten and tortured, then thrown, still alive, into the sea, their bodies had been weighted down and dumped from the yacht on which they had been crewing. For nearly forty years, no one was charged with these brutal murders.
This is the shocking and compelling story of how Chris’s sister, Penny, and her family tracked down his and Peta’s killer. For decades they painstakingly gathered evidence against Silas Boston, the yacht’s American owner, working alongside police in the UK and the USA, as well as the FBI, until he was finally arrested and charged with two counts of murder in 2016. Astonishingly, Penny was able to track down Boston’s son, whose bravery in testifying against his own father was the key to bringing down Chris and Peta’s killer after so many years.
Dead In The Water is the story of a murder almost unimaginable in its cruelty and one ordinary woman’s unwavering determination to find justice for her brother.
Title: Dead in the Water | Author: Penny Farmer | Publisher: John Blake | Pages: 304 | ISBN: 9781786069665 | Publication date: 9th August 2018 (UK) / 2nd April 2019 (US) | Source: Review copy received from publisher
‘Dead in the Water’ is a fascinating, gripping and often moving account of a brutal double murder and the impact of that crime on the families of both the victims and the perpetrator.
In 1978, Chris Farmer and his girlfriend Peta Frampton, were murdered whilst travelling in Central America. Although there was a clear suspect in the case, Silas Duane Boston, the American captain of a boat they were travelling on, the crime went unsolved for almost four decades. The book is written by Penny Farmer, sister of Chris, who tracked
Boston down via Facebook in 2015 and, through her determination to see justice
done, got the case reopened.
‘Dead in the Water’ is a really compelling read, and the challenges of the investigation of a 38 year old crime by police forces from more than one country are skilfully described. What really comes across is the vast cultural differences that exist between 1978 and the present day. At the time Chris and Peta’s families relied in intermittent letters for updates on the couple’s travels and the agony of waiting for more information when it becomes clear that something is wrong is palpable.
Also fascinating is the role that Boston’s sons play in the story, the stark contrast between the two main family units in the book is subtly brought across, but very impactful.
Boston was a suspect in the Golden State Killer crimes that were the subject of Michelle McNamara’s book ‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’ and ‘Dead in the Water’ serves as an interesting companion piece to that book. Farmer’s prose isn’t always as immediate as McNamara’s, but ‘Dead in the Water’ is a better structured and paced book, with a passion and emotion that hooked me again and again.
It’s a brave and very personal account, and all the better for that. Farmer doesn’t spare any detail in her description of the crime, or the terrible impact that it had on her family. Her tenacity and drive are quite inspirational, and the love she and her family felt for Chris is clear on every page. I couldn’t put it down and am very glad to have read it.
Note: The focus of CriminOlly so far has been on crime fiction, and that will definitely be the majority of what I cover here. I will occasionally review True Crime books though, and ‘Dead in the Water’ is the first of those.