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.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction - Sing a Worried Song

William Deverell, in Sing a Worried Song, has lifetime defence counsel, Arthur Beauchamp, retained by the Province of British Columbia as a special prosecutor to handle the second trial of Randy Skyler charged with murdering Chumpy the Clown.

At the close of the case Skyler threatens Beauchamp. The second half of the book has a predictable follow-up to that threat.

In real life Deverell acted as Crown counsel in the trial of John Wurtz and used its inspiration for the murder trial in Sing a Worried Song.

Jay Clark in a biography of Deverell on the author’s website sets the scene:

John Wurtz and Daniel Eyre were driving west from Toronto to check out Vancouver while sharing a novel titled The First Deadly Sin, and speculating about whether the murder of a stranger might, as in the novel, produce an erotic thrill. Wurtz took the fantasy seriously, and in Vancouver picked up a loner and stabbed him to death (57 times with a pair of scissors) in his basement suite.

I remember reading The First Deadly Sin. It was an excellent book if creepy at times.

The real life John Wurtz was as unhappy as the fictional Randy Skyler with the Prosecutor:

Wurtz underwent a lacerating cross-examination, became tied up in his lies, and after conviction, while being led off to serve a life sentence, he passed by counsel table and whispered to Bill: “One day, I’m going to get you.”

While Sing a Worried Song has a conventional approach for the vengeful Skyler the follow-up in the real life Wurtz case was far more unexpected and intriguing:

A few years later, the police warned Bill that Wurtz had escaped from Kingston Pen. He hasn’t surfaced since, though his parents subsequently received by mail a mysterious urn with ashes from an unknown source. Bill, whose writing studio is a cabin in the woods, says he will often jump on hearing the sound of a twig breaking or the wind whistling through the cedars.

In a Vancouver Sun article published at the end of Sing a Worried Song it said the ashes had been sent from a Florida crematorium to Wurtz’s family in Ontario.

Deverell also wrote a script for a CBC radio series about the Wurtz case.

I wish Deverell had used the continuing uncertainty of the Wurtz conclusion in Sing a Worried Song. I wonder if he thought it would not be credible. Wondering whether Wurtz was still coming for revenge would certainly had acted upon the psyche of a “worried man”.

The real life story is a striking example of the unpredictability of actual events.
(Vancouver) Deverell, William - (2011) - A Trial of Passion; (2011) - Snow Job; (2012) - I'll See You in My Dreams; (2012) - Removing Indigenous Children from Their Families in Crime Fiction; (2012) - "D" is for William Deverell; (2014) - Kill All the Lawyers; (2014) - The Lawyers of Kill All the Lawyers; (2015) - Sing a Worried Song


  1. Very interesting background to Deverell's latest novel there Bill. Thanks for sharing. A real-life mystery.

    1. Craig: Thanks for the comment. Well put saying a "real-life mystery". There has been no public solution.

  2. Very interesting - what an intriguing added strand to the story.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I am sure Deverell could have done a lot with ashes being delivered - possibly to Arthur.

  3. This is fascinating, Bill! It certainly shows that truth really can be muddled and completely uncertain. As a friend once told me, fiction has to make sense. Real life doesn't.

    1. Margaret: Thanks for the comment. I try but not always succeed in suspending disbelief when a fictional character acts in a way I think not credible for I know lots of real situations which defy rationality.