Two Great Mystery Authors Read in Toronto May 6

The Crime Writers of Canada presents an evening with two great mystery authors:

Sylvia Warsh

Sylvia Warsh pic

Sylvia Warsh was born in Germany to Holocaust survivors and immigrated to Canada as a child. She writes the Dr. Rebecca Temple series set in 1979 Toronto. The first book was nominated for an Arthur, the second, Find Me Again, won an Edgar award; the third was shortlisted for a ReLit Award. Her fourth book, The Queen of Unforgetting, is an historical novel that was chosen for a plaque by Project Bookmark Canada. Her most recent book is Best Girl, a rapids reads mystery novella. Sylvia also teaches writing to seniors.

and Alvin Abram

Alvin Abram

Alvin Abram is a storyteller, writer and graphic designer of books. Since 1997, at the age of 61 when he wrote his first manuscript, he has had over 100 speaking engagements, has been reviewed on radio, television and in the newspapers in Canada and the U.S. His latest mystery, The Dead Don’t Weep (2008), features Detective Gabe Garshowitz chasing a killer on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

Sylvia and Alvin will read from original works and answer questions about their books and the mystery genre posed by host Nate Hendley (author of several true-crime books books)

Nate Hendley

nate website photo 2

Where: May 6 at Toronto’s Annette Library (145 Annette Street)

When:  From 7: 00 – 8:30 pm

Who:   Open to the public

Cost:   Free

For more information, contact Nate Hendley:

Details about Annette library:

Crime Writers Read at April 24 Event in Toronto

police tape

Interested in crime and mystery writing?

Then check out the event the Crime Writers of Canada is hosting April 24 @ the Indigo Manulife Centre in Toronto.

A panel of distinguished crime/mystery authors will read from original works and answer questions about their chosen genre and writing habits.

The shortlist for the prestigious Arthur Ellis Awards (which recognize the best in Canadian crime writing) will be announced as well.

The panel of crime authors includes Rick Blechta, Steve Burrows, Melodie Campbell, Jen J. Danna, Mike Walton, Rosemary Aubert, Gina K. Buonaguro, Lisa de Nikolitis, Catherine Astolfo, Madeleine Callway-Harris, Rosemary McCracken and Joan O’Callaghan

Master of Ceremonies for the reading is Nate Hendley.

The event takes place April 24, from 7 – 9 pm at the Indigo Manulife Centre, located at 55 Bloor St. West in Toronto.

The reading is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Nate Hendley:


Truth Really is Stranger than Fiction

Guest Post by Jill Edmondson, author of the PI Sasha Jackson Mysteries

As I plug away with my Sasha Jackson Mystery series, I find myself looking for interesting angles on crime, some kind of inspiration for my next plot.  Naturally, I want (always) to do something fresh and new, something different.  One topic I haven’t looked at yet is drugs.  Digging around online, I came across a great deal of fodder for stories involving drugs.  The only problem is that these true tales sound like utter bullshit: No one could be that stupid.  Alas, yes they can be…

It’s no surprise that a number of drug “mules” have been caught trying to smuggle drugs through customs by hiding the contraband in their underwear, bras, or girdles, and hearing of drugs being hidden in the rectum or swallowed in plastic baggies is not terribly surprising these days.  A few wannabe smugglers have come up with more creative, albeit unsuccessful, methods of sneaking drugs past the eyes of officials.  A Chilean man’s creative attempt at smuggling no doubt played upon a bid for sympathy: He wore a cast on his leg.  The cast, however, was made of cocaine.  Another aspiring drug runner, this one from Panama, hid drugs in her breast implants.  Yes, breast implants.  I wonder if she also wore a bullet-proof bra?

And then there’s the use of our friends in the Animal Kingdom.  Smugglers have frequently used animals – both living and dead  - to transport narcotics.  Some loathsome dirtbags from Colombia surgically implanted liquid heroin in puppies and in Mexico, Navy officials found cocaine hidden in the carcasses of dead sharks.  I’d like to think of myself as fairly imaginative, but there’s no way I’d ever dream up something like this.  I also suspect that publishers would politely pass on a manuscript that had such a plot.

Drug smuggling isn’t only just across borders, though.  Occasionally, dimwits have tried to smuggle drug into jails.  Yes, prison.  Undoubtedly, one of the more inspired attempts at bringing contraband into the bighouse was to dissolve the drugs into a paste and then use the paste as “paint” to fill in a colouring book.  Apparently, the colouring book was inscribed “To Daddy” which makes me think that Child Protective Services ought to pay a visit to that home.

Smuggling doesn’t only about drugs, though.  It can involve restricted items, like ivory or exotic pets, and various no-no’s like weapons or cash with questionable origins.  A clever attempt at money laundering involved baking banknotes into pastries.  There’s got to be a pun in there about “dough”.  And even things as innocent and innocuous as stuffed animals have provided cover in an attempt to smuggle guns.  Imagine finding a pistol inside a Mickey Mouse plush toy?

A look at today’s headlines or a cursory search online reveals any number of mind-boggling scams and cons, any of which could be used as inspiration for a mystery novel.  The only problem is that mystery fans would have a hard time accepting this stuff because crime fiction isn’t usually as strange as the real stories.


Jill Edmondson is the author of the four mystery novels.  Frisky Business is the latest novel featuring PI Sasha Jackson.

For more info in Jill, check out her:



Books on Amazon:

Facebook page


Follow her on Twitter @JillEdmondson

Why I Write About Crime

By Nate Hendley

American Mafia

I always wanted to write a book. About ten years ago, I noticed a bulletin from the Professional Writers Association of Canada, a group I belong to. According to the bulletin, an Alberta-based publishing house called Altitude Publishing was looking to expand east. The company specialized in short, punchy Canadian non-fiction, primarily of a historical nature. Altitude was looking for Ontario stories and Ontario authors.

It so happened that a well-known Toronto bank robber named Edwin Alonzo Boyd had just died.

Boyd led a group of bank robbing bandits that the press dubbed “The Boyd Gang”. The Boyd Gang held up a number of banks in Toronto in the early 1950s. Toronto was a pretty boring place at the time, so the gang made for sensational headlines. It helped that Boyd had movie-star good looks and liked to leap flamboyantly on top of bank counters, gun in each hand.

I cobbled together a book query based on Boyd’s life and emailed it off to Altitude. They liked the query and asked me to write a chapter outline. This was done, and the next thing I knew I had a contract to write a book. The end-result was a title called Edwin Alonzo Boyd: The Life and Crimes of Canada’s Master Bank Robber.

I will always remember the wonderful day when a box arrived via courier containing advance copies of my book—proof positive that I was now a published author.

My Boyd book made decent sales and Altitude asked if I felt like writing another book. They sent me a long list of topics they were considering and wanted to see if any of them captured my interest. One of the topics was on the Black Donnellys—an ill-fated family of brawling Irish-Canadian farmers who lived near London, Ontario in the 19th Century. The Donnellys became the subject of my second book.

For those who don’t know, the Donnellys were involved in endless feuds with their neighbours. Barns were burned down, cattle murdered, people beaten. The neighbours eventually got fed up and formed a vigilante group. One cold evening in February, 1880, these vigilantes paid a visit to the Donnelly homestead. Bad things resulted, the details of which you will have to find out for yourself, perhaps by reading my book.

I became Altitude’s go-to guy for crime books. They kept asking me to do new crime titles and I kept obliging. Within a couple of years, I had biographies on Jewish gangster Dutch Schultz and Chicago crime czar Al Capone to my name.

Tragically, Altitude Publishing went out of business in 2007.

By that point, however, I had already moved on.

An American company named Greenwood that specialized in text books for high-schools and junior colleges, spotted my book on Schultz and got in touch. Greenwood asked if I would write a book about the murderous bandits, Bonnie and Clyde. This was done. Greenwood got swallowed up by another U.S. publisher called ABC-CLIO. Greenwood/ABC-CLIO has published three of my books: the aforementioned Bonnie and Clyde, and tomes on American Gangsters and the American Mafia.

I like writing about crime because it lends itself to colourful description and fast-paced writing. Crime, like sex, love and war, will never disappear so there’s always a fresh stock of stories to write about. True-crime is a wide reaching genre that allows writers to insert social or political commentary when appropriate. My book on Bonnie and Clyde for example, discusses the impact of the Great Depression on the United States and fast cars and machine guns on the criminal demimonde of the time.

I am currently working on a title about American scams, cons, frauds and hoaxes and keeping an eye out for stories of new crimes that might warrant a new book.

For more info on my books, please visit my website at

Originally posted on:

Press release from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition):  LEAP


Why The Capture of the Head of World’s Most Notorious Cartel Will Do Little to Stem Violence, Supply

July 16, 2013

MEXICO CITY–The Mexican navy announced late Monday it had captured Miguel Angel Treviño, the head of the infamous Zetas drug cartel, the most violent crime organization in Mexico. In recent years, the Zetas have been blamed for tens of thousands of gruesome deaths south of the border, and untold atrocities in the US. While the capture symbolizes a win for Mexican president Enrique Pena-Nieto’s administration, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of cops, border patrol officials, DEA agents and other law enforcement officers opposed to the war on drugs, cautioned it would make little difference to the prosecution of the drug war.

The war on drugs is based, in part, on the idea that if law enforcement can restrict the supply of drugs, prices will rise and demand will drop. The problem is that, because of its illegal nature, drug sales remain so lucrative that the arrest of a single individual does little to nothing to affect the long-term operation of the market.

“There may be temporary interruptions in drug supply because of the arrest,” said former ICE special agent Jamie Haase. “But as always happens in the drug war, any time you remove a person from an extremely lucrative position, there will be others waiting to take their place. The net result may be more violence as others rush into fill the power vacuum created by law enforcement’s intervention.”

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is a nonprofit group of law enforcement officers who, after being on the front lines of the War on Drugs, now advocate for its end. Please contact Darby Beck or (415) 823-5496 to arrange an interview.

(Nate Hendley is a Toronto-based author and writer. Click on this link for information on his books)

Excerpt from Steven Truscott: Decades of Injustice

By Nate Hendley

My new book, Steven Truscott: Decades of Injustice, will be released this November.

Steven Truscott was an ordinary, 14 year-old boy living with his parents on a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) base near small-town Clinton, Ontario. When a classmate, Lynne Harper, was found dead and raped in June, 1959, Truscott (the last person seen with her) became the prime suspect. Virtually no physical evidence tied him to the crime, but police were convinced they had their man, or boy as the case was.

From the book:

“The policemen worked Truscott over in turns. One man would question the boy while the other left the room. Then the second man would come in and take over the interrogation. Police wanted Truscott to admit to raping and murdering Harper. The boy refused to oblige and stuck to his story about biking Harper to the highway. Throughout the ordeal, Truscott didn’t cry or break down, remaining true to his family’s stoic code.

After unsuccessfully attempting to get the boy to confess, Inspector Graham and Constable Trumbley drove Truscott back to the guardhouse at the RCAF base. It was around 9:30 pm at night.

In Clinton, Daniel and Doris Truscott were extremely worried. Steven hadn’t come home for dinner and now he was missing. Did the same killer who abducted and murdered Lynne Harper strike again?

Inspector Graham related what happened next in his official report: “We took Steven back to the guardhouse on the RCAF base and at 9:30, Sgt. (Charles) Anderson left the guardhouse to make arrangements for the boy’s father to come to the guardhouse.”

Truscott would later deny this was the case, and said his father had to find out on his own where his son was being held. Regardless, once Daniel Truscott got word his son was at the RCAF guardhouse, he raced to the scene.

When later questioned about the guardhouse faux pas, Inspector Graham stated, “About 9:40 pm, Warrant Officer Truscott met me in the passage way outside the office in which Steven was seated with Trumbley. The father asked me in a belligerent manner how and where Steve had been picked up.”

It’s unclear if Daniel Truscott was indeed in a fighting mood or just simply deeply concerned with what was happening to his son. He fruitlessly tried to get the police to release Steven. Warrant Officer Truscott wanted to take the tired boy home and let the police resume their interrogation in the morning. The police refused to consider this request.

Their interrogation of Truscott in the guardhouse resumed.

Legally, Daniel Truscott could have removed his son from the guardhouse at any time. His son still wasn’t under arrest which meant police couldn’t hold him against his will. Only no one explained this to either father or son.”

Steve Truscott: Decades of Injustice, is available at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle and at Chapters on Kobo.

(Nate Hendley is a Toronto-based author and writer. Click on this link for information on his books)

New Book — Steven Truscott: Decades of Injustice

My latest book, Steven Truscott: Decades of Injustice, will be released this fall.

ISBN 9781927400210 $14.99

eISBN 9781927400227 $4.99

by Nate Hendley

Trade paperback, 6 x 9, 128 pages

Release date: November 1, 2012

Imagine being a 14 year-old boy who takes a classmate on a bike ride one spring evening. In the days to follow, the classmate is found dead and you stand accused of rape and murder. There’s no direct physical evidence tying you to the crime, but that doesn’t matter. In a lightning fast trial you are convicted and sentenced to death. As far as the press and public are concerned, you are guilty and deserve to die. Such was the fate of Steven Truscott, living with his family on an army base in small-town Ontario in 1959. Read the shocking true story of a terrible case of injustice and the decades long fight to clear Truscott’s name.

Steve Truscott: Decades of Injustice, is available at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle and at Chapters on Kobo.

(Nate Hendley is a Toronto-based author and writer. Click on this link for information on his books)

Go Dutch

By Nate Hendley

Gangsters make much of their income by providing goods and services the public wants but can’t obtain legally. Alcohol, drugs, prostitution and gambling have all been the basis of many a mobster’s fortune, past and present.

Back in the early 1930s, New York bootlegger Dutch Schultz (real name, Arthur Flegenheimer) was casting about for new opportunities. Schultz had earned a fortune peddling awful beer during Prohibition, but that income stream dried up in 1933 when America relegalized alcohol.

With no market left for overpriced rotgut, Schultz found a new niche in the form of illegal lotteries.

At the time, lotteries were against the law. Human nature being what it is, however, underground lotteries flourished, thanks to enterprising criminals.

In poorer districts such as Harlem, the “numbers racket” dominated.

“The ‘numbers’ was nothing more than an illegal lottery. A penny or two bought you a ‘policy slip’ (i.e. an illicit lottery ticket) containing a three-digit number, from zero to 999. Each day – or week, depending on who was running the game – a winning number would be selected. Winning numbers were usually based on stock market prices or horseracing results. If your number was selected – or ‘hit’ in numbers lingo – you won a small amount of money.

The numbers racket was hugely popular among poor people, for obvious reasons. It was extremely cheap to play and the risks – to the players at least – were next to nonexistent. Practically everyone in Harlem played, from criminals and the desperately poor to respectable, working people with solid jobs.

Policy slips were stored and sorted at ‘policy banks’ (usually, a big office or warehouse). By the early 1920s, city newspapers estimated there were roughly 30 ‘policy banks’ in Harlem. Each bank employed about 20 – 30 ‘runners’ (minions who sold policy slips and paid off winners). The boss in charge of the operation was called a ‘policy banker’.”

In New York City, numbers was one of the few vices dominated by African-American gangsters. White mobsters turned their nose up at numbers, dismissing it as a small-time racket that wasn’t worthy of their time or consideration.

Schultz thought otherwise and muscled his way into the Harlem numbers scene. He approached prominent policy bankers and suggested they join forces or suffer brutal consequences. Bankers who took the first option could remain in business, as long as they gave up most of their profits and all of their authority to Schultz.

Schultz’s gutter-level tactics worked and he quickly came to rule the Harlem numbers racket. To the astonishment of his fellow gangsters, Schultz was soon making $12 – 14 million from penny lotteries. To earn even money, he rigged the games to ensure that popular numbers didn’t “hit”.

Schultz’s time at the top didn’t last long, however. Wildly unpopular with his peers, for a variety of reasons, Schultz and three of his cronies were ambushed and shot at a New Jersey restaurant in October, 1935. After Schultz died, his fellow mob bosses seized his criminal empire, including numbers.

Since the advent of legal lotteries, the numbers racket has largely disappeared. Today, any consumer can walk into a convenience store and select from an array of tickets that might bring them a fortune, large or small.

No doubt Schultz would be chagrined to discover his one-time racket is now facilitated by clerks at 7-11.

(The paragraphs in quotations are taken from my book, Dutch Schultz: The Brazen Beer Baron of New York, available through Amazon in paperback and on Kindle)

(Nate Hendley is a Toronto-based author and writer. Click on this link for information on his books)


By Nate Hendley

The most despised woman in Canada has been found.

“Tanned, slimmer but still wary of strangers, Karla Homolka now has three children and lives in Guadeloupe under the name Leanne Bordelais, says a new book by journalist Paula Todd, who met the notorious former convict at her new home.”

“The book is the first confirmation of previous, sketchier news reports that Ms. Homolka married her lawyer’s brother, gave birth and moved to the French Caribbean island to escape public scrutiny,” reads an article in the June 21, 2012 Globe and Mail.

Homolka is the former wife of Paul Bernardo, convicted Canadian rapist, torturer and killer. While living in St. Catharines, Ontario in the early 1990s, the two of them drugged, assaulted and killed three teenage girls—including Karla’s own sister, Tammy. This on top of a string of rapes Bernardo committed in the Toronto area back in the late 1980s.

When the pair were caught, Homolka claimed she was a battered spouse. Her husband, she said, forced her into depravity. Homolka cut a deal, testified against her husband (who received a life sentence) and served but a few years in jail. Videotape evidence that later came to light revealed Homolka was actually an equal partner in Bernardo’s murderous sexual mayhem. Homolka even provided the anaesthetic drugs (from a veterinary clinic she worked at) that Bernardo used to dope up her younger sister in preparation for a videotaped assault and rape. Tammy died in the process and Homolka assisted with the cover-up.

Homolka was released from prison in 2005 and headed to Quebec, in the hope that the francophone community wouldn’t know who she was. Needless to say, this plan failed miserably. People hated her where ever she went. Homolka tacitly acknowledged the public’s loathing of her by leaving the country.

And now, she’s been found, living a quiet life in the Caribbean, with three young kids.

The Globe article doesn’t offer many details about the new man in her life, Thierry Bordelais, but he’s evidently a forgiving sort. The type of man willing to create three lives with a woman best known for helping her first husband end three.

(Nate Hendley is a Toronto-based author and writer. Click on this link for information on his books)

Edwin Boyd Hits the Big Screen

By Nate Hendley

Dashing criminal Edwin Alonzo Boyd, who headed up the bank-robbing Boyd Gang in Toronto in the early 1950s, was the subject of my first book.

The same man is now the subject of a great Canadian flick soon to enter wide release called Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster.  The film features handsome Scott Speedman (he of Felicity and Underworld fame) as the titular character.

Good-looking Boyd (who closely resembled matinee idol Errol Flynn) was a flamboyant character who enjoyed jumping on bank counters, guns in hand, announcing a hold-up was in progress. Given that Toronto was an uptight backwater at the time, the Boyd Gang made for sensational headlines. The fact the gang twice broke out of the notorious Don Jail also added to their allure.

Boyd earned a reputation as a “gentleman bandit” who never harmed anyone during his robberies. The same can’t be said for two members of his crew, Steve Suchan and Lennie Jackson, who were hanged for gunning down Toronto police detective Eddie Tong.

Interestingly enough, Boyd himself was the son of a Toronto policeman and worked at several legitimate jobs, including bus driver, before turning into a gangster. He also served in the army in World War Two.

Boyd spent part of the 1950s and 60s in prison then was released. He lived in anonymity in British Columbia, dying peacefully at age 88 in 2002.

Around the time Boyd expired, CBC-TV aired a documentary about his life. Said doc strongly suggested that gentlemanly Boyd actually committed a couple murders for which he was never caught or convicted.

Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster doesn’t touch on such controversies, but it is a terrific movie. I saw last year where it played at the Toronto Film Festival before a packed house. While not a big-budget production, the film does accurately capture Boyd’s strange charisma and short existence as Canada’s number one criminal.

To watch a trailer for Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster on Youtube, click here:

(Nate Hendley is a Toronto-based author and writer. Click on this link for information on his books)