About Me

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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.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Theory on Who Killed Sir Harry

Harold Christie
In my last post I wrote a critical review of Who Killed Sir Harry by Eric Minns concerning the murder of Sir Harry Oakes in the Bahamas in 1943. Part of my frustration was the author did not have his fictional sleuth tell the reader who he decided had killed Sir Harry. It was not like Mimms did not have multiple options to draw from in selecting a murderer.

Marshall Houts in his book Kings X, also titled Who Killed Sir Harry Oakes, asserted that American gangster, Meyer Lansky, sent henchmen to the Bahamas to intimidate and even assault Oakes but not to kill him during a secret late night meeting away from the Oakes mansion. It was alleged that Lansky was upset that Sir Harry was opposed to a casino being opened in the Bahamas. The murder was supposedly not intended and that Oakes body was returned to his home. The author further asserted that Oakes friend and colleague, Harold Christie, was working with Lansky and a participant in the murder.
The theory sounds like fiction.

James Leasor in Who Killed Sir Harry Oakes somehow ties together the burning of the liner Normandie in New York Harbour in 1942 and the Allied landings in Sicily.

John Parker in King of Fools added further to the involvement of Meyer Lansky. He suggests the investigating Miami detectives were on the mob payroll. He further suggests the Duke of Windsor had business connections with Lansky.

Charles Higham in The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Story as set out in Wikipedia:

His conclusion in the second edition is that Oakes was murdered by an African ritual specialist from South Florida, who had been hired and brought into Nassau by airplane on the day of the murder by Harold Christie, a Bahamian mulatto business associate of Oakes. Christie and Oakes, the much wealthier man, had been friends and business partners for many years, and Christie had facilitated Oakes' move to the Bahamas. The two had apparently fallen out shortly before Oakes' death, because of Christie's dealings over the sale of Bahamian property on the island of New Providence, which was scheduled to be used for a new airfield by the Royal Air Force, a project of which the Duke would certainly have been aware and involved with since it had important strategic and economic implications, and would involve large expenses.

It sounds even wilder than the Lansky theory.

James Owen in A Serpent in Eden returns to Alfred de Marigny being the alleged murderer though he was acquitted at trial. He asserts he had seen documents in the British National Archives not publicly released.

Owens is another author reaching for a theory.

John Marquis in his book, Blood and Fire: the Duke of Windsor and the Strange Murder of Sir Harry Oakes rejected the Lansky theory and considered the murder was brought about Bahamian businessmen, including Christie, who feared Sir Harry was moving his fortune to Mexico.
De Marigny in his book A Conspiracy of Crowns said:
``In my mind there is no doubt whatsoever that Harold Christie should have been tried and hanged for the murder of Sir Harry Oakes. While hired hands acted for him, it was Christie who ordered the fatal act committed that turbulent night in Nassau.``

He further concluded the Duke of Windsor was one of the conspirators against him.

I think Marquis is closest to the truth but I do not think there was any Bahamian conspiracy. I think it was Christie acting on his own. He was staying in the house that night. It is probable that he was facing default issues over loans with Oakes. He was the suspect with best access and best motive. He also implausibly said he heard nothing of the murder a short distance from his bedroom.


  1. Bill - It is fascinating to speculate on what probably happened. Certainly some far-fetched-sounding things have happened in the world. But in general,the most logical theory is the most worth pursuing, at least in my opinion, unless there's a good reason to doubt it. Such interesting possibilities though, even if they don't really hold weight.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I appreciate the more exotic ideas for fiction but they do not work well in non-fiction.

  2. I'm always interested in a Duke of Windsor connection! Great roundup of the different theories, and you're convincing me that your pick of the scenarios is right.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the kind words. The Duke does not fare well in assessing his actions with regard to this murder. He was either rather panicky in bringing in the Miami detectives or part of some conspiracy that failed. Then at the time of the trial he disappeared to the United States.

    2. The Lansky theory made one hell of a movie with Gene Hackman in "eureka" ... I would gather it's a combination of events described. The attention of the Duke is very odd with his intervention with USA police network which does add credo to the Lansky connection as those police were from the big port city Miami. Not to be overlooked with the Mob tactics and power struggles which have come to light have connections in the UK, through Jewish money channels. The movie Eureka does not venture into Harold Christie at all but has De Marigny at the house as a witness in the shadows to the murder. Eureka mixes fiction with the folk story. A recommended film on it's own merit aside from what the facts are, as they do not open the film with 'this is based on a true story'. THanks for sharing your thoughts.