The Bigamist: A True Crime Book About Bigamy.

There are some crimes that we approach with a little bit of disbelief, we almost see them as comic, and they are more likely to be the punchline of wink wink, nudge nudge jokes than seen as the serious deception that they are. So it is when we come to bigamy. As crimes go it is not much in the headlines, and people rarely talk about it, for the same reasons that much crime that involves romantic or sexual relationships are not talked about. They can carry a heavy stigma for those who are victims, and so reluctance to speak out is understandable.

Not so for Mary Turner-Thomson the Edinburgh single Mum who signed up to a dating site and ended up meeting someone who she thought was her soul mate. She embarks on a romance with Will Jordan, a charismatic American. Things seem a little iffy, but I think we can all probably admit to ignoring the odd red flag in the beginning of a relationship, his explanation that as a member of the CIA his life had a lot more risks, and therefor more secrecy appeased Turner-Thomson at the beginning. However as the relationship progresses there are more and more lies spun, and more and more untruths told, to the point as a reader that it is hard to keep up with the labrynth of lies, falshoods and half truths, especally as Turner-Thomson lays them all out in chronilogical order, mirroring the confusion I am sure she felt in living this ordeal. I am sure that there are details she has not included, but reading only those which have been suitable for publication the mid boggles and Jordan’s appetite and energy for deception. Even a fairly mundane life can be hard to live, so how one finds the energy to not only juggle multiple partners and children, but actively engages in elaborate decite to all of them is beyond me.

Please do not let anyone marry this man.

I came to the conclusion that it was not the relationships themselves that Jordan chesrished as much as the feeling of control and power that the lying gave. It is notable that he not only comited marraige fraud but also defrauded Turner-Thompson out of large sums of money, and that she was not the only one. The main aim of Jordan’s adult life appears to have been to live off women, both monetarily and in a more ego-centric way of feeling powerful and in controll.

When you peruse the myriad of reviews of The Bigmaist many readers admire Turner-Thompson for her bravery of telling her story in public. A similar amount of people finish the book wondering why on earth she went so far, and so deep into the relationship with Jordan when there were so many red flags. It is a natural thing to wonder, but we also fool ourselves if we think we will not be so easily taken in. A huge amount of people fall foul every year to scams sometimes romantic, often monetary, in person, online and over the phone. None of the people who are caught out ever thought before they would be the kind of person who would fall foul of such duplicitousness. Don’t we all like the think, to hope, that we would be the one who would turn the tide and be far too clever for those kinds of schemes.

Turner-Thompson does not interogate what it was in her own upbrining or background that allowed her to fall for Jordans ever increasing lies. Could it have been an upbrining that was mired in patriarchal ideas were you don’t question the man of the house too much? Maybe being a single mother she felt the need for a partner to support her through the trials of parenthood. These are the kind of questions that deeply mine the human pshyce. While we may all want an answer, it can take a long time to untangle the myriad influences on a life that make them take a wrong turn. It is worth remembering that it is easy to postulate reasons, but it can take a lot of time and hard work to actully find the why. Sadly that often comes too late, and for many only after there is some great distance between us and the events in question.

So while it might be a more satisfying reading experience if Turner-Thompson could give us the kind of solid answers to the predicament her experience asks, perhpase we ask too much of her to be able to parse it academically down to a handfull of previous experiences or feelings.

It appears as though Turner-Thompsons experience was a triumph of hope over reason. While hope can sometimes turn to perversity as it did in this case, a life lived without it is a poor and sad one indeed. Reading through The Bigamist, and seeing that Jordan, now extradited to the US has continued his romantic indulgences and fathered more children, to women who I expect are totally unaware of his past in the UK I am reminded of the Walter Scott quote I see everytime I walk through Waverly Station. “Love will subsit on wonderfully little hope, but not entirely without it.”

To stop our friends and loved ones and selves becoming victims of the likes of Jordan, we need to up our expectations of hope, and that it can be something that is juicy pulsing and alive within us, not just the relationship crumbs we are so often given to expect and told to enjoy.

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