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Trace of Doubt cover art

Trace of Doubt

By: Samantha Weinberg
Narrated by: Samantha Weinberg
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Summary

In the summer of 1985, a brilliant young British DNA scientist Helena Greenwood is found murdered in her front garden in a quiet suburb in California. The police believe they know the killer’s identity but there’s no evidence against him, and the only thing linking him to the crime is the fact he’d been charged with sexually assaulting Helena just a few months previously. Fifteen years later the case is reopened and after a breakthrough in DNA evidence, David Paul Frediani is re-investigated, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. It was almost as if Helena was pointing to her killer from beyond the grave, using the very scientific technology she had spent her life working on. Author Samantha Weinberg has been fascinated by this case, writing an award-winning book about the tragic sequence of events. She’s spent time with the man convicted of the murder and was utterly convinced of his guilt. But, in 2018, she received a letter from a jailhouse lawyer, a fellow inmate of Frediani that would blow the case apart. Together, they reopen the investigation, embarking on a shocking journey to discover the truth - in the process uncovering systematic failings and abuses in the American criminal justice system.

Content Warning: This series contains strong language and graphic descriptions of violence and sexual assault. Listener discretion is advised. If you have been affected by any of the themes in this series, please find below links to organisations that can help you:

sexualabusesupport.campaign.gov.uk/#support

rapecrisis.org.uk

www.thesurvivorstrust.org

www.rainn.org

Episode 1: DEAD WALKING TALKING

In August 1985, Dr Helena Greenwood’s body is found in the front garden of her cottage in southern California. The police believe they know who killed her, a handsome financial advisor named David Paul Frediani. But there is nothing to tie him to the murder scene. The case is filed: unsolved.

Episode 2: POETIC JUSTICE

There have been extraordinary breakthroughs in DNA science. Fifteen years after the murder, the sheriff’s cold case team reopens the investigation, and, using DNA, they catch their killer. Samantha Weinberg becomes fascinated by the case. She returns to San Diego for Frediani’s trial.

Episode 3: SEEDS OF DOUBT

Samantha visits Frediani in prison, where he is serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. He insists he didn’t kill Helena Greenwood, and that he was framed. Buried deep in the investigation files, she finds a letter which suggests his conviction may be unsafe.

Episode 4: THE JAILHOUSE LAWYER

In 2018, Samantha is contacted by Dustin, a jailhouse lawyer, who has himself been in prison for 45 years. He is helping Frediani, and says that, using the letter Samantha found, he thinks he can get Frediani’s case reopened. Dustin and Samantha launch parallel investigations.

Episode 5: THE PUNCHBOWL

Samantha returns to San Diego. She learns about suspect practices at the sheriff’s department crime lab, and delves into the case of Jane Dorotik, who was convicted of murder at around the same time as Frediani, and who has just been exonerated, because of mistakes at the same lab. Does it help to understand Frediani’s case?

Episode 6: THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY

Samantha and Dustin pick through the case files and each find bits of evidence that don’t add up. Doubt about Frediani’s conviction keeps growing. Dustin is trying to get him a new trial.

Episode 7: BROKEN DOWN

Samantha visits Frediani in prison. He’s ill, but still protesting his innocence and excited about Dustin’s work. The cops open the old files for her, and some of her questions are answered. But two witnesses throw a new light on what happened.

Episode 8: CALLING TIME

Frediani’s health is failing. He is waiting to hear about his new trial. But Samantha has some tricky questions for him. Dustin has positive news. Samantha pays her respects at Helena’s grave, in the New Forest. And comes to a surprising conclusion.

Now available in Dolby Atmos on Audible

©2023 Audible Ltd. (P)2023 Audible Ltd.

What listeners say about Trace of Doubt

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story

The story is very interesting but the music in the background is awful and I wish podcasts would stop doing this, it’s distracting and I nearly stopped listening

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8 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A bit narcissistic

Why does the author write about herself so much when there is no narrative need to do so? Sounds like preying on a murder victim and I feel some sociopathic energy from the reading.

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7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Self indulgent and navel gazing

The author was entirely obsessed with her own “need” to know the truth. Like she was owed something.
Saved somewhat by the collaborators and people she interviewed, but over all very very very disappointing.

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7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping and much more

A tour de force by Samantha Weinberg whose lifetime of personal investment in the story lifts it from being a compelling true crime story into a layered and nuanced investigation of Science and the Justice System and the tension between truth and storytelling.

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5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Loses a star for the music

great story well told but the slightly off key guitar theme tune is utterly awful. So distractingly jarring it detracts from the narration

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4 people found this helpful

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This isn’t just a podcast…

…it’s an epic: emotionally stirring confidence shatterer pro-genre intrigue soul emboldening sharply surprising. Just listen and see if you can find the words…
I expect many awards shall decorate Samantha Weinberg’s mantle. And a sequel soon, I hope. I want to hear more from Dustin.

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3 people found this helpful

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Great story but

The clashing jarring pointless distracting music was an unnecessary addition to what would otherwise have been a thought provoking tale

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2 people found this helpful

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  • 17-12-23

The ego of the narrator

The narrator makes too much of the story about her and there is a LOT of repetition

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2 people found this helpful

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A waste of time

1. This proved nothing, so was a waste of time.
2. It seems to be all about the journalist, and I agree with other reviewer’s, very narcissistic on her behalf.
3. Re-opening this wound just to create a podcast is sensationalist.
4. The poor victim’s husband is just an aside.
5. The needless loud background music is distracting and disturbing.

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2 people found this helpful

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What a waste of time- such a rubbish ending

After talking for hours about how important the science was - in the end she goes with her gut feeling!

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2 people found this helpful