Thursday, February 15, 2007

Deverell and Truscott and WWOOF

I am embarrassed to admit that I have never read William Deverell. He’s one of Canada’s top crime writers, with a slew of books to his credit. His book, April Fool was last year’s Arthur Ellis winner for best novel. He’s a lawyer and most of his books (I believe) have to do with the legal profession. Perhaps that’s why I’ve avoided reading him. I don’t care much for legal books, because if there is one thing I really hate reading about it is people who have been put on trial or jailed for something they didn’t do. I don’t know why that turns me off so much, perhaps just the unfairness of it all. Perhaps because it’s, theoretically, something that could happen to any of us. Last June I heard a reading from April Fool at the CWC celebrity reading event for National Crime Writing Week. I forget who read April Fool, but I enjoyed it very much, and made a mental note to pick up the book. Finally I did. It’s very funny, quite light, cleverly plotted, and well deserving of that Arthur Ellis. Deverell handles the topic I hate (unjustly jailed person) with an amazingly deft touch.

Which of course made me think of the Stephen Truscott case. Everyone in Canada knows the story, but for those of you who might not – when he was 14 years old Stephen Truscott was convinced of the murder of a classmate, Lynne Harper. And sentenced to death. Can you imagine – he was 14 years old. It’s a long, convoluted story, but now he is in his 50s and trying to have his name cleared once and for all. Even at the time there was a lot of talk that the case had been very badly handled, and it has been in the news, on and off, since them. It is pretty obvious that this little boy was railroaded (he was released from prison after serving 10 years), the evidence against him appears to be nothing other than garbage and lies. A classic case of the police finding someone to charge and then ignoring any evidence that contradicts that conclusion. Plus what looks like a good helping of sheer police and medical incompetence. A very disturbing story, but the one thing that makes it bearable, in my humble opinion, is the simple dignity of Truscott himself. Anne Marie MacDonald fictionalizes the case very well in her book The Way the Crow Flies. (I skipped over the trial parts).

As well as providing an exceptionally good read, and making me think about justice and the Truscott case, April Fool also has me getting even more excited (if that were possible) about my upcoming sojourn to B.C. April Fool takes place on one of the Gulf Islands, and I’m going to the Interior, but Nelson has the same laid-back, hippie lifestyle that Deverell describes so fondly in his book. The book has a couple of WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms, and other similar verbiage), which reminded me that I might be interested in doing that. Today I joined WWOOF. Of WWOOF opportunities in Canada, about ½ are in B.C, and of that a good number are in the Kooteneys. Not that I’ve ever worked on a farm, but I’m looking for fun and adventure and cheap accommodation.

I bought a tape measure and cut it off at 34 inches and hung it on my cubicle wall. Every day, I cut one inch off. 32 days left until retirement!

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