Cold Case North
University of Regina Press / 2 December 2020

Cold Case North: The Search for James Brady and Absolom Halkettby Michael Nest with Deanna Reder and Eric BellPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Michelle Shaw$24.95 ISBN 9780889777491 In 1967, Métis leader James Brady and Absolom Halkett, a Cree Band Councillor, vanished from their remote lakeside camp while prospecting in Saskatchewan. No trace of them was ever found and their disappearance became one of Northern Saskatchewan’s most enduring mysteries. The initial police investigation concluded that the men had got lost and died while trying to find their way out of the remote area. But rumors persisted for over 50 years. If they were indeed lost why was no trace of their bodies ever found, even though there was an extensive search at the time. Many people believed they were murdered, and their bodies disposed of, probably in the nearby lake which was very cold and deep. Various attempts were made over the years to discover what had happened, but none were successful. Deanna Reder, a Professor of English and Indigenous Studies at Simon Fraser University (SFU), grew up hearing the story of Brady and Halkett. Her uncle Frank, in particular, talked about his memories of the two men and…

University of Regina Press / 23 November 2016

Deadmonton: Crime Stories from Canada’s Murder City by Pamela Roth Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $21.95 ISBN 9-780889-774261 In 2011 I lived in a notorious Edmonton neighbourhood where I wouldn’t walk the length of a block alone at night. That same year Edmonton was deemed the “Murder Capital of Canada”. Journalist Pamela Roth was also living in the city at that time, and the court and crime reporter has now published a collection of true stories about several of the cops, the criminals, the victims and their families who made headlines in “Deadmonton,” both in 2011 and across the decades. The book’s title, shadowy cover image, and back cover copy all prepare readers for the disturbing content inside. “These stories are not for the faint of heart,” Roth writes in her introduction, and adds that what the murdered and/or missing victims’ families have in common is “the need for closure, no matter how much time has passed.” There’s been no closure for eleven-year-old victim Karen Ewanciw’s friend, Shelley Campbell, who was ten when she and her best friend were exploring the river valley by Edmonton’s McNally High School, and, after finding an upside down…

Boiling Point and Cold Cases
University of Regina Press / 10 September 2015

Boiling Point & Cold Cases: More Saskatchewan Crime Stories by Barb Pacholik, with Jana G. Pruden Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-286-1 Gruesome, grisly, and ghastly are just three words that might describe some of the crimes in Barb Pacholik’s Boiling Point & Cold Cases: More Saskatchewan Crime Stories. Readers might wonder how some people can treat other humans so brutally. The collection consists of forty stories, thirty-six black and white photos or illustrations, and a list of sources on topics as diverse as Prohibition, marijuana grow-operations, and the Ku Klux Klan in Saskatchewan. Crimes range from shooting, stabbing, bludgeoning, and arsenic poisoning. Some motives are just plain weird. It’s hard to believe someone would kill another human being just to steal his car stereo. One man killed his family because, he said, he loved them so much. The time span ranges from late 19th century to early 21st century, primarily in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The earliest case cited in Boiling Point and Cold Cases occurred in 1885 when John Connor murdered Henry Mulaski in Moose Jaw. Connor was hanged in Regina on the very day that the trial of Louis Riel began….

Thugs, Thieves, and Outlaws of Alberta
University of Regina Press / 18 December 2014

Thugs, Thieves & Outlaws: Alberta Crime Stories by Ryan Cormier Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-300-4 In the decades before Canada abolished capital punishment, hanging was a popular mode of execution. It was not an efficient method. An executioner mistakenly cut down one man while he was still alive, with his neck grotesquely dislocated. As the young man struggled for breath in front of witnesses for another 12 minutes, prison officials discussed hanging him a second time. In the 40 chapters of Thugs, Thieves & Outlaws: Alberta Crime Stories, author Ryan Cormier describes many grisly crimes and their punishments. He explains that “good people can be fascinated by gruesome things.” A reporter for the Edmonton Journal, Cormier relies heavily on court transcripts, newspaper accounts, and his own notes. While acknowledging that “every crime has at least two sides,” he uses only the official version, the one sanctioned by the courts. Cormier’s book covers crimes in Alberta from 1870 to 2008. Many of the stories are ripped straight from the headlines, such as the murder of four RCMP officers at Mayerthorpe in 2005. Some stories seem beyond belief, like the banker who embezzled millions…