New Releases

D O U B T 3: The Madeleine McCann Mystery

By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson  NEW doubt 3 madeleine mccann

Available on Amazon

DOUBT 3 is a grim reconnaissance of dirt and graveyards, a brutal interrogation of the gritty undercurrents of intention and motive.

In its mission to find Madeleine, or some substantive evidence of her, the third narrative in this bestselling true crime series burrows down through obvious stratum into the subterranean, stinking caverns underlying this case.

“If Madeleine is invisible then we must resume our search for her not in the visible but in the invisible world…”

As such DOUBT 3 interrogates:

-The Paraiso Restaurante CCTV footage of May 3rd
-Carol Tranmer’s Police Interview
-Goncalo Amaral’s coffin theory
-Possible dates remains were moved
-Madeleine’s final resting place

Through atoms and germs, odours and intuitions, sulphur and smoke, Van der Leek and Wilson attempt to find a thread, a few crumbs or a particle to piece together a long-forgotten form into someone we knew once upon a time.

“Make no mistake, on the other side of all the nonsense, outside of time, some other version of events floats through the ether. That is what we want to get to. Not via a court room, that ship has sailed. Is the true story out of reach or are we up to the task of recognizing and grasping its threads?”

The author suggests that besides Madeleine, something else – something that belongs to all of us – also vanished from the Algarve on that day in early May, 2007.

The author navigates seaside sewers, recent interviews and long dead history in an effort to rescue the one, if not the other…

D O U B T 2: The Madeleine McCann Mystery

By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson  NEW doubt 2 madeleine mccann

Available on Amazon

Buckets brimmed with glinting coins for all who came and played their part. Even so, Madeleine remained missing.

If DOUBT dealt a sweeping view over the vast Madeleine McCann case file, DOUBT 2 roosts over the main highlights of the case.

In DOUBT 2, Nick van der Leek once again boldly interrogates the haunting, not-quite-right, aftermath of Madeleine’s “abduction”.

•Time of death
•Had there been an autopsy, injuries sustained?
•Removal and disposal/s of Madeleine’s remains
•Three weeks after her death, what was used to transport Madeleine’s remains?
•Ultimate suppression of Amaral and others in court
•How the narrative was controlled
•How the pot of gold turned into a goldmine buried beneath the media mountain that sprouted, like a cinder cone volcano around this Missing Person’s Case

DOUBT 2, using a shoestring budget, attempts to go beyond the £11.1 million investigation that was shelved. It aims to go far beyond the £4 million Find Madeleine Fund that was drained dry during the course of an investigation into the disappearance of a little girl who some believed had never gone missing at all…

D O U B T: The Madeleine McCann Mystery

By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson  best version

Available on Amazon

Did the little girl at the centre of the most heavily reported missing-persons case in modern history ever go “missing” to begin with?

If Madeleine was never abducted, if she died on May 3rd, why was it reported as an abduction?

Despite the absence of a trial, what we have now is a fairly precise version of events from the McCanns themselves, a by-product of their relentless PR. We also know the original lead investigator, Goncalo Amaral’s, counter-narrative, now a legally defensible matter of public record.

The questions that arise from these opposing narratives are dead simple:

Which narrative is more credible?

Which narrator is more credible?

What was the motive behind all the publicity? Neither Madeleine nor her abductor ultimately benefited from the ongoing media barrage, so who did?

True crime maestro, Nick van der Leek, plumbs quagmires of confusion and a thicket of thorny inconsistencies to probe what lies beneath: the psychologies. What is the significance of “doctors” as suspects? Did it matter or mean anything that the McCanns and their cabal of friends in the Algarve were mostly doctors?

Peeling away the gossamer threads, over the course of just four days [April 29th – May 2nd], van der Leek intuits that very little was routine: not the weather, not where meals were eaten, not where or when they slept and not what they did as a family. But what were their routines when it came to other, murkier things, like sleeping patterns, cell phones and sedatives?

Drawing intangibles out of the darkness, van der Leek sews the vexing loose ends from several conflicting stories into a definite – if not definitive – end-result.

King of Freaks: The Saga of the West Memphis Three

By Nick van der Leek and Lisa WilsonKing of Freaks cover

Available on Amazon

True crime’s rising stars Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson, fresh from the success of three trilogies dedicated to the unsolved JonBenét Ramsey case, have cast about for a new challenge.

In the West Memphis Three case, they find a heart of darkness to rival the webs of shadowy intrigue bedeviling Boulder Colorado in 1996.

“Having written about the unsolved Ramsey case,” writes van der Leek, “I was looking for a challenging case to rival and to sharpen the true crime saw even further. The West Memphis Three saga does precisely that.”

But where the Ramsey case was a murk of sophisticated smoke and mirrors and legions of chummy, high-powered lawyers working behind the scenes, as we’re about to see, this story is quite different. In Arkansas, at the heart of America’s crime infested capital, very little makes sense. Out of the woods a slew of unsophisticated folks emerge, each floundering in a self-made soup of blood, mud and twisted psychology.

“The irony, for me,” adds Wilson, “was how many supposedly sophisticated folks could be duped by the artless performances of the impoverished and the uneducated, and Echols’ especially.”

Getting stuck in the muddiness of our own sick minds, it turns out, is a fate common to rich and poor, genius and imbecile alike. King of Freaks navigates how and why this “getting stuck” happens, and the way through it when it does…

sequin star  2007-2012

By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson


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Is the Ramsey case unsolvable? What kind of alchemy is required to dig up new revelations decades after the JonBenét Ramsey case went cold? 

In the second Sequin Star narrative, the authors seek to build a brand new psychological case from the ground up.  They burrow deep through the darkest vestiges of the criminal archive and hold the Ramsey Intruder Theory up against real cases involving real intruders, like the Karla Brown murder and sexual assault from 1978.

The authors also test a myriad of inconsistencies in the Ramseys’ ever-evolving narrative. Why do they exist? What are these irksome inconsistencies covering up so many years later?

In addition to timeline critical events spanning 2007 – 2012, the second Sequin Star also interrogates:

–              Lighting inside the Ramsey home on the night of the murder

–              The northern neighbor Scott Gibbons’ eyewitness testimony

–              The Broken Playroom door

–              The flight itinerary of N2059W, John Ramsey’s personal plane

–              John Douglas’ profile of the killer

–              The Ramseys’ attitude to the media during the maturing phase of their saga

The narrator, investigative photojournalist Nick van der Leek, examines the Ramsey case file through the fiery psychological shafts of grief.  He masterfully casts over endless evidentiary fluff, revealing tangibles buried deep within the 20-year-old Ramsey canon.

Lisa Wilson, an L.A. based true crime researcher, meticulously assimilates and filters all available information to synthesize, from the cloud, the most cogent counter narrative yet.

“The second narrative in this series is solid,” Wilson says. “It expands on the theory of the first in many ways we didn’t expect, and neither will the reader.”

By applying an arsenal of modern investigative techniques, the authors have crystallized the unspoken horror haunting the Ramsey case in the starkest terms to date.  So many words.  So many years.  So much time and life lost.  What can be salvaged from the ashes of one little girl’s life?

sequin star  2000-2006

By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson  1-fullscreen-capture-20161107-020707-pm

Available on Amazon

The sequin star trilogy interrogates the sixteen years of ‘post-truth’ surrounding the unsolved JonBenét Ramsey case.

The first narrative spans nine lawsuits, two books, John Ramsey’s first political campaign and the circumstances surrounding Patsy’s death – all during the first six years after the Grand Jury trial was railroaded. It also interrogates the psychological fabric holding these “sequins” together.

Besides testing aspects from the original timeline, the sequin star narrative examines the arch account of the Ramsey case; that treatise of ‘post-truth’ penned by the prime suspects themselves, as well as the writer of the arch counter-narrative, detective Steve Thomas.

“In this narrative,” writes LA-based true crime researcher Lisa Wilson, “we will seek parallels between some of these historiological concepts and the criminological elements of this case. The Logos is the first ‘day’ of Christmas, when ‘word’ is made ‘flesh’, when a star is born, where God enters into the world he has made in the form of a baby.”

“How this literally translates to this case,” adds van der Leek, “is through lawsuits. These lawsuits were essentially a bickering contest over semantics.”

From 2000 onwards the Christmas spirit is inverted. Instead of peace, joy and love for all mankind, words are made cash. Whenever the Ramseys won their suits, millions flowed back to them.”

Investigative journalist Nick van der Leek plumbs the Justin Ross Harris case to seek insight and potential allegory into how a reckless and distracted parent may attempt to conceal this fact.

“The Harris case induces a real star in the death of a child. The son is killed by the power of the sun acting in the closed cubicle of Harris’ vehicle. The test is whether this is intentional or not? Does Harris have a shiny record as a parent or a heart of darkness? Are Harris’ claims plastic or authentic?”

Through their sequin star narratives van der Leek as narrator and Wilson as researcher go far further into the human story and deeper into human psychology than the veneers of other narratives anchored to this particular crime.

The sequin star series is an attempt to understand through the Ramseys in Boulder what our society was and is becoming, and who we are becoming. Is there a cosmic significance to the extinguishing of a single tiny star in the curtain of night above a small hamlet? Can today’s society stand as JonBenét did, perched under a gigantic but artificial star on the edge of a Continental divide, and know what it is to fall from those dizzying, glittering heights into an abyss?


By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson 1-fullscreen-capture-20160927-050306-pm

Available on Amazon

The third book in The Day After Christmas is twice the length of the previous two. This epilogue examining the aftermath of JonBenet Ramsey’s murder is chock-full of new revelations. A handful include:

Why are there no fingerprints on the Ransom Note? What hidden charge is buried in the Grand Jury’s True Bill? What is the significance of JonBenet’s My Twinn Doll? How does a knife connect the murder weapon to the murderer? What impact does Lockheed Martin – and money – have on any of this?

The Day After Christmas restricts the laser focus of true crime’s rising stars Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson to the year 1999. In their methodical approach to this case, the authors systematically close in on the money train and its itinerant mechanisms. As usual, psychological patterns are distilled from the ether. But beyond the insights and the evidence, what new and secret serum is buried in those glinting mechanical fangs, oiling the coils that have suffocated justice in this case? What machine drives the entire case?

The final narrative in this bestselling series probes the following areas for insights:

-The relevance of Mind Hunter and John Douglas to the JonBenet Ramsey case
-The Lindbergh kidnapping – dubbed “the biggest story since the resurrection” and “the Crime of the Century”
– The impact of Pete Hofstrom
– Behind the scenes revelations into the “Atlanta Fat Cats”
– The significance of the mysterious photo # 17.7
– The likelihood that John Ramsey did not break the basement window, and neither did an intruder
-The powerful symbolism behind money and the Myth of the MegaMachine


By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson  1-fullscreen-capture-20160927-050943-pm

Available on Amazon

Most of the legal action surrounding the unsolved JonBenét Ramsey case has nothing to do with prosecuting the case. The premise of the second book in The Day After Christmas trilogy surgically removes the peripheral noise.

“What do we see? We see a case that involves a trifecta typical to the true crime genre. Sex, money and prestige underpin the triumvirate of power, and somehow this crime is a manifestation of all three. Thus far we have dabbled in the prestige but we’ve virtually not touched on sex and money. In this narrative we will deal with sex. What impact did sex have on the murder and cover-up of JonBenét?”


By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson 1-fullscreen-capture-20160927-045543-pm

Available on Amazon

“…where does the urge to kill come from and how do we get it if we don’t have it?…”

The first narrative in The Day After Christmas Trilogy focuses on the events immediately following the discovery of JonBenét Ramsey’s small blonde six year old corpse.

In this narrative the bestselling authors of The Craven Silence Trilogy attempt to prove the seemingly impossible. Three prime errors in the JonBenét Ramsey canon are examined, interrogated and if these popular true crime maestros are to be believed, rectified. The implications of these amendments to the canon are profound, hence a second Trilogy.

“In our first book of The Day After Christmas series we will attempt to show why the murder weapon is significant, and why mistakes in this area have seriously undermined all investigations thus far into this case. The black baseball bat is not only not a baseball bat, what’s more, it belonged not to Burke Ramsey but to another member of the Ramsey household. The broken window was not broken months before the murder. In this narrative we attempt to show why that is, and why it wasn’t broken by John Ramsey. By the end of this narrative we address exactly where JonBenét was murdered.”


By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson  1-fullscreen-capture-20160903-033548-am

Available on Amazon

Where civilization ends savagery begins…

In their third narrative investigating the unsolved murder of JonBenet Ramsey the two bestselling authors of The Craven Silence 2 have uncovered some startling new evidence.

Is another boy from the Boulder neighborhood involved in the Christmas 1996 incident besides Burke? Why was an aborted 911 call made from the Ramsey residence on December 23rd?

Was John Ramsey having an affair?

Van der Leek and Wilson unravel secret after secret to uncover what lies beneath The Craven Silence.


By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson  1-fullscreen-capture-20160903-033321-am

Available on Amazon

Rumor has it Burke Ramsey killed his sister. Once again dark stormclouds have been milling in the media around the Ramsey family. If the rumors are true has the 20 year old mystery finally been solved?

Are we really any closer to understanding why the six year old beauty queen was murdered, precisely where in the Ramsey home and exactly how?

In this sequel to the bestselling THE CRAVEN SILENCE true crime maestros van der Leek and Wilson shine a light where none have dared before. The authors peel back layer upon layer of misdirection obscuring the raw eddies of child psychology. What do the foremost experts on human anthropology say about aggression in children?

This second narrative in a series of three exposes countless contradictions in the statements of those first suspected of the crime. Were those initial suspicions valid after all, and if so, what is left, where is left for this “unsolved” case to go?


By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson  best2

Available on Amazon 

Nobody knows who killed JonBenét Ramsey.

Despite the efforts of Colorado’s legendary super sleuth Lou Smit, the JonBenét Ramsey case has – to the present date – defied demystification. Smit, who cracked over 200 cases and had a 90% success record, devoted the last years of his life to finding JonBenét’s killer. Smit died in 2010 having failed to solve this confounding case. 6 years later, despite massive media attention and widespread public scrutiny the most famous of cold cases remains unsolved.

Now two rising stars of the true crime genre have put their heads together for their toughest assignment yet.

“The caseload involved is colossal. It’s overwhelming. At times I’ve felt like I was drowning; literally dying while I was investigating this case. I haven’t felt anything as bad on any other case; that should indicate what we’re dealing with here.” – Nick van der Leek, Photojournalist

But The Craven Silence is more than just an investigation into the murder of a beautiful little girl, it’s an investigation into the very basements of the human condition. To genuinely probe the cold desecrations of our common humanity, the authors move through the veneers of winter and Christmas to deeper and darker places.

“I can understand how this case obsessed Smit but ultimately it defeated him and just about everyone else. We’re trying to avoid getting bogged down or lost inside this twenty year old story; we’re trying to find something no one else has and when we do, stay humble.” – Lisa Wilson, bestselling author and blogger

In The Craven Silence the authors have burrowed behind Boulder’s chummy bureaucracy in search of not one murderer, but several…

HOT WATER: The Phelps vs Le Clos Rivalry: A History of Swimming

By Nick van der Leek  1-Fullscreen capture 20160828 040117 PM

Available on Amazon

“It has been an amazing, amazing, amazing week. Crazy week. Can’t believe some of it but, um, pretty exciting. Yes, I am not done, I have one more race…”  – Michael Phelps

HOT WATER follows Michael Phelps’ trauma of emergence, and investigates the possibilities and threats buried in a simple reality:

Everyone is beatable, even the greatest Olympian in human history. So what could Michael Phelps do to make sure he won?

“Michael Phelps despised the image of perfection his success had created…”

Michael Phelps is living proof that dreams can and do come true if you work hard and for long enough. Water is an important analogy in HOT WATER illustrating the power of “Phelpsian” persistence. Weakness properly moulded can become a substance capable of slicing through the hardest rock.

The signature event of the Rio Olympics was undoubtedly the epic re-match between an Olympic icon and the man who foiled his golden dream in London, Le Clos. The 200 meter fly is Phelps’ favorite event. Phelps is Le Clos’ idol. Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, came out of retirement to settle unfinished business. In 2016 fire and gasoline would come together in an explosive finale.

The author analyses the 200 fly race step by step, meter by meter, uncovering a steaming cauldron of insights. Le Clos’ loss to the Phelps was devastating, especially after the Muhammed Ali vs Fraser build-up, and the shadow boxing in the ready room. But what led up to it, and what happened afterwards?

“If losing comes with a bitterness like death, winning comes with an orgiastic ecstasy. But to get there we must deny some essential part of ourselves. What makes losing so hard is when we work, we have denied ourselves and then failed to win anyway, and that’s another denial. The winner makes sacrifices but they’re worth it, because he wins. Are the loser’s sacrifices not a double dose of death with losing at the end of it all?”

As a photojournalist, Nick van der Leek is closer to the psychologies underlying this narrative [including #PhelpsFace and #LochteGate] than most, having interviewed multiple world champion athletes including Chad le Clos and his father Bert. Being a state swimmer himself in butterfly and freestyle, the author is also clearly familiar with the changing nuances of the latest swimming techniques and training technologies.

“Authenticity is authenticity on Everest, in a courtroom, in a swimming pool, when you go to work, when you pay your taxes. Time and time again we find in true crime that what may seem worlds apart invariably isn’t. The search for justice in the courtroom is not so different from the search for justice in a swimming pool, and on a podium.”

The core mantra of HOT WATER, South African photojournalist Nick van der Leek’s 50th book:

Challenge yourself to dream big. Keep challenging yourself.

“In HOT WATER I’ve tried to guide the reader into a world they’re probably unfamiliar with. The goal is to inspire and invigorate ourselves, to fill up on the magic potion that fuels the Olympic flame in these incredible athletes. We do that by intimately following their journeys, and finding in spite of those images of perfection, flawed people just like us. And yet what these ordinary people have done is absolutely extraordinary. Yet we can’t help wondering – what could I do?”

WHITE HORSE III: Oscar Pistorius  WH3 Cover

By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson

Available on Amazon

Nick van der Leek returns for another leg of his journey through the grotesque and Kafkaesque underbelly of the Oscar Pistorius pantomime. This time he takes readers on a detour on his way to covering Oscar’s “Date With Destiny” on July 6th in Pretoria from inside the courtroom. It’s a path you won’t see coming, and one that will leave you stirring uncomfortably in your chair as it unfolds.

WHITE HORSE III examines the darkest spaces of the narcissistic mind, and showcases the agony that betrayal brings. Yet, we are all partially to blame. Our persistence in the belief that perfection exists in this imperfect world has created an incubator for evil. 

The substance of narcissism is that one person is one person one moment and another the next. By implication even their own view of the world must be one version one moment, and an inversion the next. So, as Oscar’s moods swing, so must the world in order to remain at his feet. And if you have a narcissist with no feet, don’t worry, he’ll conjure some into and out of existence as needed. 

“[Narcissists] have a need for dominance and control; they are competitive and need to always be on top and win. They are argumentative, one-upping, undermining, demeaning, and, unable to lose because they see it as failure. They make sure to always have the last word in any argument.” – Leonard Carr

Besides Oscar’s narcissism, is there anyone else’s? There’s an underlying group that has supported Oscar’s song and dance all along. Is Masipa a part of this pyramid of collusion? These individuals may be incentivised to participate or incentivised not to interfere, either way, the authors single them out and put them in the spotlight. 

In WHITE HORSE III the authors provide a shocking exchange between Oscar’s right-hand PR gal, Anneliese Burgess, and Thomas and Calvin Mollett. 

In addition to the extensive psychological examinations, the authors once again step behind the police tape and into the notorious 286 Bushwillow Street. Van der Leek and Wilson walk you through the broken and battered bedroom door along clean carpets to ballistics buried inside the blood-stained bathroom. New revelations have been drawn from the autopsy photos some of which readers get to see for the first time. 

WHITE HORSE II: Oscar Pistorius  WH2 Cover

By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson

Available on Amazon

WHITE HORSE II continues to investigate deep into the dark matter of the Oscar behind the Great Pretender. In this narrative the authors provide additional detail of Nick van der Leek’s “secret meeting” with the prosecution, and additional information released after the fact.

The authors also deconstruct the ITV Interview, and unsurprisingly, uncover some peculiarities not only in Oscar’s additional narrative [his third version now] but in the documentary itself.

“I’m trying to pick her up but there’s so much blood I can’t stand up. And I thought Reeva had started breathing.” — Oscar Pistorius on ITV

Besides following a money trail, the authors present an even more horrifying backstory to never-before seen crime footage of Reeva’s head wounds [beyond the three images already released]. There’s also an interrogation of new forensic evidence.

Once again, the rising stars of true crime – van der Leek and Wilson – provide a completely fresh look this tragic tale. In this instance “three balls” are highlighted on which Oscar’s entire case hinges. Oscar has been juggling these three balls all along. According to the authors, if a single of these balls is fatally flawed and is dropped, Oscar’s entire case falls apart.

In WHITE HORSE II the authors demonstrate not only the defects of a single ball, but something far worse…

WHITE HORSE: Oscar Pistorius

By Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson

Available on Amazon

“We now live in a world where counter-intuitive bullshitting is valorized, where the pose of argument is more important than the actual pursuit of truth, where clever answers take precedence over profound questions.”  — Ta-Nahisi Coates

WHITE HORSE covers the three days of unprecedented testimony in the Oscar Pistorius sentencing phase, witnessed first-hand by Nick van der Leek, who was accredited for the trial. Fullscreen capture 20160507 043749 AM

Besides ground-breaking analysis and insights not only beyond the media narrative, but going much further than the court’s “intruder” narrative as well, the author – with a background in law – was also part of a “secret meeting” with the prosecution, regarding a “rogue witness”.

The authors interrogate defense and prosecution witnesses in-depth; once again this is at a level of investigative reporting missing from the media narrative.

The authors uncover a major insight into the forensics of the crime scene after procuring three as yet unseen images of Reeva Steenkamp directly from the Judge’s Clerk subsequent to the sentencing phase.

The images taken at the crime scene below the stairs, near the front door, formed part of Exhibit E [six images including 135, 136, 137, 138, 139 and 140].   137 and 139 have to-date not been distributed by any media.

These are the most gruesome and disturbing showing the exit wound in Reeva’s head caused by Oscar’s devastating black talon ammunition. It is absolutely clear from these images that Reeva would have died virtually immediately after sustaining them. 1-IMG_7348

As such, Oscar’s narrative of Reeva’s temporary survival after sustaining a lethal, incapacitating wound to her brain, as well as Oscar’s alleged attempts to “resuscitate” Reeva and clear her air passages over a period of some minutes after breaking down the toilet door are demonstrably false.

The major insight, as discussed by the authors with America’s legendary prosecutor and former District Attorney, Beth Karas, suggests an MO missing from all narratives of this case: that Oscar sanitised not merely his own crime scene…but Reeva herself…

The authors explore the implications not only of this astonishing insight, but how it aligns across Oscar’s chequered life leading up to the crime, the covering up of the scene immediately after the crime, and the continuation of this “performance” in court up to the present time.


By Nick van der Leek

Available on Amazon

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” — Joseph Campbell  

Fullscreen capture 20160515 074357 PM“But the process of becoming who you are or might be is tough, traumatic, and let’s face it, risky. What if you fail? What if you fail at being you? Or what if you being you isn’t acceptable to others, what if it’s not working out for anyone else [like your family, friends, society, or people of another color]? Well it may mean you’re set for an epic struggle. I was.”   

South African photojournalist Nick van der leek has cast off his true crime and mountaineering mantle [for now] to skate the thin ice of South African politics. His breezy account is not just an interrogation of what he considers a “counterfeit” debate which deserves to be “countered”, it’s also a load of fun, and funny. While the author personalises some of his insights, what emerges is an unexpected humanity, and from this flows empathy, and understanding, even sympathy perhaps for not just this South African son, but all the beloved countries’ sons and daughters.

“Even though I was privileged I struggled. Holy f*#k does that even make sense? Isn’t being privileged all about getting free tickets, free rides, being sent to the front of the line anywhere and everywhere?”

Van der Leek also illustrates in his personal struggle a vital piece missing in the conversations of South Africa’s young black students in particular. That even privileged folks don’t get their just desserts easily, or often even at all. Even in the land of the privileged there’s a pecking order, there are gatekeepers, and it’s not about the colour of skin as much as it’s about timing, and merit, and luck, and if all else fails building a door if opportunity doesn’t knock.

CjulGAxXIAEvivnWhat’s useful is van der Leek doesn’t merely do away with countering a bogus narrative, he sets up constructive lessons for living that are helpful to anyone seeking to lead a purpose-driven life in a country suffering from a long term identity crisis.

“The thing South Africans obsessed with white privilege can’t seem to comprehend is privilege actually has absolutely nothing to do with money, and even less to do with someone else’s money. Privilege is all about giving yourself permission to be you…”

Van der Leek’s on-the-chin rubric is both refreshing and alarming, what surprises is the sudden emergence of what feel like brand new insights gleaned from genuine personal insights essential and integral to the South African narrative, whatever that is.

Another obvious question which van der Leek places under a giant spotlight is the question of Collective Destiny.

“Is the Ship Of This Southern Country’s Dreams ever to sail into the sunset? Will all aboard, all passengers and crew, be bathing in the same golden light of prosperity and yes, privilege?”

Van der Leek’s narrative says it can and it might, but there’s a nasty twist waiting for all of us…

NEVEREST III New Insights: Beidleman vs Groom

by Nick van der Leek

Available on Amazon

Prior to reading Nick’s NEVEREST series, I only knew a little bit about the ’96 tragedy.   Unlike many of the followers of this story, I didn’t read every best-selling book, nor have I ever climbed mountains myself.  But now I’m hooked. Three books in and I feel like I’ve been following this case for 20 years. The thing I like about this series is that each book focuses on different aspects of the event, and different climbers, which allows the reader to digest the enormous amount of information being shared.   The NEVEREST III narrative revolves around the topic of leadership.  Just like the other two books, it also offers some mind-blowing insights about human nature – the stuff we don’t like to acknowledge until we’re forced to.  There were also a few brand new stories from recent Everest climbs that I think the readers will really love.  Nick has two more books planned for this series.  I thought after one I’d be done, but I’m chomping at the bit to see what he uncovers next. – Lisa


Written on the 20th anniversary of the ’96 Everest disaster, South African photojournalist Nick van der Leek cunningly unravels the devil hiding in the details of a mountaineering classic. In NEVEREST III two guides are investigated for potential dereliction of duty. Was there negligence on the way to the summit, or simple resignation to charismatic leaders, paying clients and a tightly controlled and choreographed summit bid? If so, how and why did it all go wrong, and can anyone really be blamed under the extenuating circumstances?

“Unlike NEVEREST II where we sat on the shoulder of a client climber and saw and felt the expedition ethos embedded in the team, in this narrative we’re going to sit higher up, on stronger, more nimble shoulders. If we don’t have Hall or Fischer’s testimonies, the next best thing is the top guides.”

In absence of two leaders on two teams, and subsequently the exit of Anatoli Boukreev, the senior Mountain Madness guide [who elected to descend ahead of everyone else], did a leadership vacuum emerge? And if so, did the guides step up to fill it?

“Groom, a typical strong silent type, has written his own narrative about ’96, and once again, each first-hand experience is at once illuminating and yet another single fragment of a whole. None of the fragments add up to an integrated whole, perhaps because the climbers involved cannot [or will not] reconcile themselves to what happened, to what really happened to their comrades or how they genuinely responded to what happened. Perhaps the only way to fit all the narratives together into a cogent whole is for an outsider to examine the evidence, and attempt to reconcile it.”

Van der Leek has attempted to do this, and in his third narrative on the Everest disaster, more missing pieces have been added to the puzzle.

“NEVEREST III contains shocking revelations clearly laid out, but they’re only shocking because of a concerted effort to conceal certain motives and mistakes from view. The mistakes themselves are less an indictment than the attempt to cover them up…”

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