Book review: Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

I just this moment finished listening to ‘Adnan’s Story’ by Rabia Chaudry via Audible and it’s so good I had to share.
I haven’t listened to an audiobook since I was about 8 years old, when I obsessed over ‘Return to Oz’ which came on two cassettes and had an accompanying picture book. In those days they were called books on tape and I only had two, the other being a Famous Five mystery.

I listened avidly to the Serial podcast and also to Undisclosed, anxiously awaiting each installment and trying to make sense of the story as it unfolded. I didn’t ever check out the associated blogs, but now I wish that I had. 

Rabia’s book covers all the same ground as those podcasts but with more details and a whole other level of emotion. Rabia has a personal connection to this story, and it comes through in the narrative, making the story that much richer. Her amazing hard work over the years in working tirelessy on Adnan’s behalf is also clear, although she never uses her platform for any kind of self promotion.

Adnan Syed was just 19 years old when he was arrested for and convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. 

The state constructed their case against him, and by constructed I mean they focused only on Adnan and bent every possible witness statement and scrap or evidence (of which there really was none) to fit their version of events. 

Adnan’s defense lawyer failed to provide him with any real legal defense, she did not establish his alibi, she did not contact key witnesses, she did not counter the allegations against Adnan in any way.

The entire spectacle was steeped in racism – Adnan was painted as a manipulative liar, a man motivated by religious extremist views, with a network of friends and relatives who would cover up his indiscretions and help him flee from justice if required.

With everything stacked against Adnan, he was denied bail, found guilty of murder, and sentenced to life in prison.

Thanks to Rabia’s hard work, and the amazing team she gathered to join her cause, Adnan’s story was thrust into the public eye and the injustice could finally be addressed.

 Adnan’s conviction has been vacated – meaning he should either be released as a free man, or be granted a new trial. The state is dragging its feet, they don’t want to admit any wrongdoing and because of this an innocent man continues to sit in prison, and a young woman’s killer remains free.

Rabia’s book tells the entire story, and she promises to share any further updates as soon as she can – hopefully the next we hear will be that Adnan is finally free.

Undisclosed Season 2

Like so many, I was addicted to the Serial podcast and to the first season of Undisclosed as Sarah Koenig and then Rabia Chaudry told the story of Adnan Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee.

I’m still devouring every update on the case and can’t wait to read Rabia’s book, ‘Adnan’s Story’ or maybe I’ll download it on Audible and enjoy having  Rabia read it to me.

Season 2 of the Undisclosed Podcast went live on July 11th 2016 and I managed to hold off on listening until last week, with summer behind me and the kids all safely away to school – so they can’t interrupt my podcast listening enjoyment – I popped in my earbuds and took the dog on long, long walks to binge listen.

This second season of Undisclosed deals with the death of Isaac Dawkins, who was shot in the head apparently while driving home from college one evening, and the conviction of Joey Watkins, for his murder.

I’m still 1.5 episodes behind, but I can’t wait and need an outlet for the many thoughts about this story, so I thought I’d put them on my blog and see if anyone else out there has the same ideas.

  1. Does everyone in a small town just date everyone else, including their ex’s siblings? The web of exactly who is linked to whom and in what way is pretty tough to keep straight in those opening episodes!
  2. Brianne sounds like the kind of girl that just loves to be involved in the drama, and if there’s none really going on she’s happy to start some. Her favourite pastime seemed to be stirring up trouble between her ex and current boyfriends.
  3. I didn’t believe the someone-shot-at-Brianne-and-Isaac-at-Brianne’s-house story at ALL until episode 7 when the details of the other roadside shootings were mentioned – now I’m wondering if there’s more “random shots fired at people” stories out there for around the same area and time period that have never been collected. The gang initiation sounds like a possible motive, what if there were multiple potential new gang members all given the instruction to shoot someone who is driving a car, maybe specifically a white truck, and these gang wannabees all head out to what they believe is a good location to achieve this goal and that why there were multiple incidents of trucks being shot at, but not all on the exact same stretch of road?
  4. I believe the statements made by the tow-truck driver regarding the position of the truck, the timing of the police presence, the state of the window etc. I think since he is the one tasked with moving the truck and cleaning up any accident related debris, he would be accurate with his account of the accident site (I’m saying accident because initially thats what they believed it to be and therefor the tow-truck driver was doing his job as it would relate to a car accident.)
  5. I don’t think the photographer who was contracted by the police department was ever at the crime scene. I think this was an oversight on the part of the police, someone was supposed to contact him and they didn’t or there was a miscommunication. The photographer was not there and it wouldn’t have mattered too much had it just been a traffic accident as initially thought, but when it turned out to be a crime scene and a possible murder then it became a bigger issue and rather than get their fingers rapped for the mistake, one or more of the police officers involved told the lie that the photographer was there – the photographer himself doesn’t remember being there right? but its a small town, they all know each other and he usually was called for all the crime photos so he kind of assumes he must have been and its just as puzzling to him that he cant find the damn photos, or he’s part of the lie and at this point you can’t come clean with the truth so the lie continues, and he continues to search for all those hundreds of photos that don’t actually exist.

Okay. This has gotten way long. And I have those last couple episodes to listen to to get up to date. Anyone out there who is also living with their ear glued to this podcast and has some thoughts to share, please feel free!