Published 2016

Sing a Worried Song

“Simply brilliant.” —The Globe and Mail

“Lively and realistic.” —National Post

“Deverell at peak form.” —Toronto Star

The background:

“Any resemblance to persons living or dead…” 

Though I practised mainly as a criminal defence counsel, I was on occasion retained by the Attorney-General of British Columbia to prosecute homicide trials, some of which attracted wide public attention.

The trial featured in the opening section of this novel roughly recreates one of them, an alleged thrill killing in Vancouver of a lonely down-and-outer.

The accused was John Wurtz, a bright young man visiting from Toronto. On his journey west, he’d been absorbed in The First Deadly Sin, a popular thriller by the late Lawrence Sanders, whose mentally warped serial killer uttered musings like, “The murder of a stranger. A crime without motive... The act of killing is an act of ultimate love.” 

Morbidly inspired by such ruminations, Wurtz befriended the victim, a stranger to him, and found himself accused of a copycat murder, his quarry stabbed 56 times with a pair of scissors. The only evidence putting Wurtz at the scene of the crime, a humble West End flat, was a single print on a beer bottle on a window ledge.

The chief Crown witness, Wurtz’s traveling companion, had originally cooperated with the police, but at trial changed his story, supporting Wurtz’s alibi. That involved a mysterious third man who’d shown up in the flat, the victim’s jealous male lover.

The trial was a difficult one, well-defended, but after a strenuous cross-examination of the accused, the jury convicted.

As Wurtz, in handcuffs, was led past the prosecution table to begin his life sentence for first degree murder, he paused by my chair and audibly (to me) whispered, “Some day, Mr. Deverell, I’m going to get you.” 

The Plot:

The sixth novel in the acclaimed Arthur Beauchamp series

It is 1987. A clever young MBA student is accused of brutally stabbing to death a popular Vancouver street clown—apparently for the sheer pleasure of killing a stranger. Famed defence counsel, Arthur Beauchamp, QC, is persuaded to switch sides, just the once, and prosecute the case. It looks like a cinch at first—but takes shocking turns as it starts to fall apart. Beauchamp too seems to fall apart, as he struggles with his alcohol addiction while his flamboyant wife, Annabelle, seeks new affairs.

Flash forward to present time. Beauchamp, happily remarried, has retired to a bucolic life on Garibaldi Island, where he mixes it up with the wily, prankish locals. But suddenly the events of 1987 come back to bite him. “A worried man,” he hums, “sings a worried song.” But Beauchamp’s worries come very close to paranoia.

The novel recreates a murder trial the author prosecuted several decades ago, a thrill killing that prompted the accused to vow revenge.

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