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Frank Jones.

Toronto, Seal Books, c1981, 1984.
198pp, paper, $3.50.
ISBN 0-7710-1828-7.

Grades 10 and up.

Reviewed by Jerry McDonnell.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November

Murder is always repulsive, but it is also a great subject of interest and constant fascination. The general public always wants to know all of the details. Witness also the fascination of such authors as Agatha Christie.

Frank Jones, who is a Canadian and a journalist, has undertaken to retell the story of twenty heinous murders from Canadian history. The tales are retold in roughly chronological order beginning with the story of Catherine Snow, her husband and lover in Newfoundland 150 years ago. Catherine may or may not have murdered her husband with the help of her lover, but they were both executed for the crime, Catherine after waiting until her baby was born.

Other stories include that of Donald Morrison, the outlaw of Megantic, who was hidden by members of his Eastern Townships Scottish community for several months before he was finally arrested. An almost impossible to comprehend incident occurred in the Bruce Peninsula of Ontario in the 1950s when a man murdered his wife in front of their children who were too terrified to talk about the crime for many years.

This book will surely appeal to the prurient interests of most of us and should sell well. Each story is told in ten to fifteen pages and is self-contained. The book, however, has some curious flaws. Some chapters do not reveal when the crime occurred, while others are equally vague about important details. In some cases, the story ends abruptly and without a conclusion, or in others, the conclusion bears little relationship to the story told.

The book will undoubtedly be popular with teenagers and should give the lie to the myth that Canada is always a peaceful and orderly society. It should be useful for reluctant readers in secondary school.

Jerry McDonnell, F. E. Madill S. S., Wingham, ON.
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