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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Heiress vs The Establishment by Constance Backhouse and Nancy L. Backhouse

Margot Kinberg at her excellent blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, had a post essay today about the use of breach of trust in crime fiction. The post reminded me of a real life prominent Canadian case from over 80 years ago that reads like fiction and has a great heroine. I looked up my review of the book about the case and it forms tonight's post. Do drop over to Margot's blog. Her daily meditations on crime fiction are always worth reading.
40. – 295.) The Heiress vs The Establishment by Constance Backhouse and Nancy L. Backhouse – In 1922 Elizabeth Bethune Campbell finds an unsigned copy of her mother’s will and is forced to pursue her inheritance as Toronto Trusts and a prominent law firm initially deny its existence. After a forced settlement she finds her mother’s trustee, 80 year old Uncle William Drummond Hogg, has mishandled her mother’s funds and cannot provide a proper accounting. When she takes court action Ontario’s legal and judicial communities close ranks to protect their “distinguished” colleague and bencher. With no justice available in Canada she appeals in person to the Privy Council. A woman of great determination and intelligence she perfects the appeal, researches the law and argues the appeal (the first woman to argue her own case before the P.C.) Justice is done when her appeal is successful. The situation strongly resembles the personal quest for justice of Florence Deeks (see The Spinster and the Prophet – No. 43). While Deeks fails Campbell is successful because her facts are beyond doubt (Hogg should have been disbarred and jailed) and she is a full member of the Canadian Establishment. Her self-published memoir, Where Angels Fear to Tread, is included. So well written and compelling I read it in a day. (Aug. 29/05) (Tied for 3rd best non-fiction in 2005)
Anyone interested in reading the actual Privy Council decision from 1930 in Elizabeth Bethune Campbell (Appeal No. 56 of 1929) v William Drummond Hogg and others (Ontario) [1930] UKPC 39 (1 May 1930) can read the decision at http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKPC/1930/1930_39.pdf. It is polite but scathing of Mr. Hogg and the Canadian judges who dealt with the case.


  1. Bill - First, thank you so much for the kind words *blush* - I appreciate it very much. Also, thanks for sharing this fascinating case. It sounds as though it set legal precedent and showed too that such a gross breach of trust can be found out. I have to say I love it that Campbell had the perseverance to insist on justice, and that in the end, those responsible were brought to it. I must look for this book!

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I hope you will find the book. It is one of the rare non-fiction books I found difficult to put down while reading. I do not want to say more as there are surprises in the book that I would prefer readers experience on their own.