CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 35 . . . . May 11, 2012
Swan recounts the details surrounding the wrongful conviction of 14-year-old Clinton, ON, native Steven Truscott for the rape and murder of 12-year-old Lynne Harper, in 1959. Using trial testimony, interviews, and other documents, the author details what is known about this disturbing crime and the investigation that followed it. Swan reports missed opportunities, overlooked witnesses, and mistakes at the trial that resulted in this miscarriage of justice. He follows the story through Steven’s incarceration and until his eventual exoneration in 2007.
The details of this case are not for the faint of heart. The descriptions of Harper’s remains and clothing are sensational, and other particulars (such as the sores on Truscott’s penis and the fact that he “crapped” his pants while in jail) seem gratuitous, at best. There are no heroes in this story—not the bumbling police investigators, nor Truscott’s too-trusting parents who were convinced the system would work, nor the attorneys who made procedural mistakes, nor even two of Steven’s friends who lied on the witness stand, helping to convict him.
Short chapters and direct writing filled with dialogue make this book easily accessible, especially to struggling readers. A centre section, filled with black and white photos of the principals and the crime scene, adds to the story’s authenticity and an appended glossary defines legal terms.
Recommended with reservations.
Kay Weisman recently completed her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.