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Starkins, Edward.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1984, 1986. 348pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-7715-9260-4. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Beatrice E. Russell

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

This is the true story of the investigations following the death of a Scottish nursemaid whose body was found in the basement of a house in an exclusive Vancouver suburb over sixty years ago. The author has done extensive research over many years and in many parts of the world. He portrays the status consciousness of the social elite in Vancouver in that era and shows the lengths to which they would go to keep any semblance of scandal from tarnishing their names. The racial prejudice of this society is demonstrated by the abduction of the Chinese houseboy who worked at the home of F.L. Baker where the body of the dead girl was found.

There were many occasions on which it seemed as if the case was almost solved, but then the investigation would either not be completed, or the information obtained not released. The story is handled in such a way that the reader keeps persevering to find a clue that might have been overlooked. Many examples are given of the activities of corrupt politicians, press controversies, incompetent police work, racial intolerance, prominent people who were involved in the world-wide drug trade, even rumours touching the family of the lieutenant-governor.

At the end of the book there are notes on each chapter that give the source of the information used. Although the print is rather small, the reader will continue to read, trying to decide in his or her own mind, who killed Janet Smith?

Beatrice E. Russell, Lacombe, Alta.
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