CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 9. . . .October 29, 2010
Unsolved: True Canadian Cold Cases.
Robert J. Hoshowsky.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2010.
218 pp., pbk., $24.99.
Cold cases (Criminal investigation)-Canada.
Grades 10 and up / Ages15 and up.
Review by Tom Chambers.
On May 15, a farmer was plowing his field in Tecumseh Township near Schomberg, about twenty-five miles north of Toronto. It was an isolated area, surrounded by tall grass, dense brush, and overgrown trees, certainly not a place you’d go to unless you had a very good reason. Troubled by a foul smell he thought was coming from his septic tank, the farmer went to investigate and saw something that would haunt him forever. Near a rusty wire fence in a hedgerow were the rotting remains of a young man. The naked body, reduced by decay, insects, and animals to a skeleton, was lying face down in the earth.
Unsolved, as the full title indicates, is the story of cases that police in Canada have not been able to solve. Twelve cases of murdered and missing people are discussed. Reading about them is not for the faint of heart. In these particular cases, the desecration of the bodies is horrific. Reading about them will, without a doubt, provoke a discussion of human depravity. Because of the nature of the cases discussed, Unsolved should probably be used as classroom support with the guidance of a teacher.
Robert J. Hoshowsky, the author of Unsolved, has written extensively about the dark side of life with articles on thieves and killers in over one hundred publications. He also wrote The Last To Die, the story of Ronald Turpin and Arthur Lucas who were the last people to be hanged in Canada. Hoshowsky is a good writer. His prose, which is of a very high caliber, flows smoothly, almost in poetic fashion, with the result that Unsolved is very hard to put down.
Unsolved has numerous functional black and white photographs spread throughout the book and “Notes” which provide useful information on the crimes discussed. There is no Index, which is a liability.
There is a similarity to most of the cases in Unsolved. This is, of course, natural because police procedure in the case of murders is the same, no matter where the crimes take place in Canada. Frustration and sadness are two of the feelings Unsolved creates in the minds of readers. One is naturally saddened at the needless deaths of young people and frustrated at the powerlessness of the authorities to solve the murders. One feels a similar frustration when reading about children who disappear without a trace.
Unsolved teaches the reader a great deal about modern forensic science and the tactics used by police. These are interesting and help to make the book appealing. Many people seem to have a fascination with horrible crimes. This, no doubt, helps account for the popularity of the many TV crime shows. Unsolved will reinforce this fascination because the investigative procedures discussed mimic the procedures we see on TV.
All premature deaths are sad, tragic affairs for the families of the deceased. Of the unsolved murders in Unsolved, one of the most tragic is that of Sharin’ Morningstar Keenan, who was only nine when she died. Author Hoshowsky wrote, “Of all the crimes man can commit, none is more cowardly, more unforgivable, than the abduction, rape, and murder of a child.” Who could disagree with him? What is even more depressing is that police believe they know who killed Sharin’, but, since 1983, have not been able to find him.
Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college professor, lives in North Bay, ON.
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