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, March 5, 2023

Nothing But the Truth by Marie Henein

(7. - 1146.)
Nothing But the Truth by Marie Henein - Henein is currently Canada’s best known criminal defence lawyer.

She has always been restless:

Discomfort is a home of sorts for me. I know it, and find myself restless and searching for it the moment I feel myself slipping into any state of ease. The truth is that I feel most acutely when I have pushed into some state of discomfort.

Her father, a large outgoing man, was a pharmacist for 50 years, and her mother is a reserved, lovely woman. Her parents grew up in the Middle East. As Christians they did not fit into the Egypt of Gamal Nassar and became outsiders.

The family went from Cairo to Vancouver to Beirut to Toronto where Henein grew up. As with many children she gains interest in her family backgrounds as an adult.

Growing up family life for the Henein’s  is everything, even stifling at times. Years go by before the tight bonds weaken and Amerikani ways creep into their lives. 

Henein has strong women at the heart of her life - her Teta (grandmother) Nour and her mother, Evelyn.  

Her Teta was at the “centre” of the family. Henein was extremely close to her Teta. Her maternal grandparents lived no more than a block away. The two of them were together every day.

Evelyn, refused to have Henein limited to a traditional life:

My mother’s only aspiration for me was that I be educated and financially independent.

Henein’s love of shopping and of negotiating come from her Teta who was a master negotiator at stores as well as in flea markets.

Her mother loves her children deeply but expected them to have separate lives from parents and other adults. Henein was more interested in adults.

Nour, Evelyn and Marie all have a fierce intensity. Henein speaks of Middle Eastern mothers being convinced they are never wrong.

Her brother, Peter, born 6 years after Henein, is less intense. Henein, as a child, organizes and directs his childhood life.

Illustrating her character:

The only arguments my mother and I had about school were those where she asked me to stop studying. She would fight with me to take a break or come eat or join a family gathering. I missed many such events - even my grandmother’s mandatory weekend family dinners - because I insisted on studying just a little bit longer. And the thing is that I never, not once, enjoyed it.

There are mentions, but no discussions, of friends as a child or a teenager. 

Henein loves her Uncle Sami who leaves for New York City when he is 18. With artistic flair he lives flamboyantly and exuberantly as he drifts from endeavour to endeavour. Every visit to Uncle Sami is an adventure. He lived with “glitter and excess and a good dose of fantasy”.

Entering law school, as I did after 2 years of university, Henein is Sami’s support during her first year of law. He has returned to Toronto to die. He has AIDS. She recounts his hard death. It was a desperate time in the 1980’s for those infected with HIV. There was no treatment. I thought of my representation, starting in 1991, of hemophiliacs and blood transfused who were infected with HIV. Eight of my first eleven clients had died by 1996.

She was with Sami to the end when other family members could not bear his suffering. She planned his funeral and delivered the eulogy. The middle name of her second son is Sami so she could say his name again.

In the book Henein sets out the best and worst of law school.

The best involves critical thinking:

Navigating a case effectively requires an ability to critically think, set aside your ego, and most importantly, challenge your own and your client’s assumptions.

In her next sentence she discusses the worst:

While law school does some of this, it completely fails to teach students about the actual practice of law. Very little time is spent on how to interact with clients, tackle ethical issues, or master the art of negotiation and advocacy.

That was my experience in law school 50 years ago. It was her experience over 30 years ago. The experience has not changed for the Canadian law students of 2023.

Henein is an accomplished storyteller as I would expect from a trial lawyer.

I will explore aspects of her three plus decades in the law in my next post, a letter to Marie.


  1. She sounds absolutely fascinating, Bill. And what an interesting way to get a look at the Canadian experience from people who came from elsewhere. You know, it's so interesting that she mentions (and so do you) the things that law school didn't teach her. I've heard that from teachers, too, that some teacher preparation programs don't prepare future teachers for the day-to-day things that teachers do, and some of the challenges they face. It's something to keep in mind when people are planning (or adapting) higher education programs, and I'm glad you mention it.

    1. Margot: Law school has never made sense to me. The vast majority of graduates will never be academics but students are taught as if they will be professors or appellate lawyers. It is dispiriting to graduate and find out that the personal assistants know more about he practice of law than yourself.

  2. What an interesting story, Bill, from her background to the experience of going to law school. I look forward to your next post.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. She is an interesting woman. Learning about her family helped me understand her.