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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Goodbye Man by Chad Barton

44. – 604.) The Goodbye Man by Chad Barton – Once I started this book I knew it would be a difficult book for me to read and review. It is about a vigilante killer. I do not believe in vigilantes. Vigilantes are contrary to my participation in and belief in a system of justice.  

Jack Steele is an avenger. He has designated himself the executioner of monsters, men who kill children. (I say male monsters as there are no female monsters in the book.) The book starkly presents a world of black and white. There are the great guys and girls and the bad guys. Characters are either all good or all bad. There is not a killer about whom there is any doubt of guilt.  

Most child abusers in my experience are family members but all of the killers in the book are stranger abusers. They are long term serial violent abusers of children unknown or little known to them. Each killer is a continuing threat to society. No one could have any sympathy for them. 

Jack Steele has decided that these killers of children deserve to be slain by him. He cannot abide that some killers have been released from prison for reasons such as overcrowding or good behaviour.  

Steele and his German shepherd, Sadie, range between New York City and Florida seeking out killers to be killed. Steele considers the justice system has failed and he shall kill to address its shortcomings. Steele considers a failed judicial system gives him the right to be God on earth.   

Everyone in the book who is a member of a police force who hears of the killing of the monsters is happy a vigilante is preying on child killers. I wonder how many real life police want vigilantes roaming the streets looking to mete out their personal brand of justice. 

For Steele child killers have no worth. None of the book’s killers have families. None have spouses. None have friends. They are only monsters to be exterminated.  

As the book progresses it is clear that Steele believes other types of monsters such as rapists equally have no right to life. 

Everyone has moments they want revenge for harm done themselves or a loved one. Who has not seen himself or herself as a hunter of evil men? Yet we hold back from action. I believe it is because we recognize that it is bad for society to have millions of people exacting their personal versions of justice.  

I live in a country, Canada, which has no capital punishment. Our nation has decided it is not for the state to kill criminals. At one time we had a death penalty that was limited to murderers of the police. Ultimately, the death penalty was abolished. One of the reasons for abolition was that our nation decided a police officer’s life was not worth more than the life of a child or any other citizen. 

One of the characters in the books is a devout Catholic. I am Catholic. Our church, led by the pope, has spoken out against capital punishment. 

The action scenes are convincing and well written. It is a blunt force book. There are no twists or complications. Steele is a determined efficient killer. If you liked the Charles Bronson movies where he is a vigilante you will like the book.  

The book will make a reader reflect on what society should do with those who abuse children. I have been thinking about justice. Almost all my cases involving criminal law have been as a defence counsel. I have represented individuals accused of abusing children. Some were guilty and went to jail. Some were not guilty but had their reputations destroyed. None had killed children. I do not believe any of my clients deserved to die.  


On Thursday I will post a series of questions and answers I exchanged with Chad Barton. I sent Chad a series of 17 questions asking his opinions on assorted issues related to the criminal justice system. As examples the first two questions are: 

1.) Do you believe in the death penalty? 

2.) If you do, what crimes should carry the death penalty? 

On Saturday I will be posting some of my thoughts on the questions and answers. 

(I thank Sara Croft, a media specialist at BohlenPR, who sent me a copy of the book.)

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