Winner, Canadian Authors Award for Canadian History, Jeanne Clarke Memorial Local History Award, and Prince Edward Island Book Award for Non-Fiction
Is it possible to reach back in time and solve an unsolved murder, more than 170 years after it was committed?
Just after midnight on April 21, 1842, John McLoughlin, Jr. — the chief trader for the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Stikine, in the northwest corner of the territory that would later become British Columbia — was shot to death by his own men. They claimed it was an act of self-defence, their only means of stopping the violent rampage of their drunk and abusive leader. Sir George Simpson, the HBC's Overseas Governor, took the men of Stikine at their word, and the Company closed the book on the matter. The case never saw the inside of a courtroom, and no one was ever charged or punished for the crime. To this day, the killing remains the Honourable Company's dirtiest unaired laundry and one of the darkest pages in the annals of our nation's history. Now, exhaustive archival research and modern forensic science — including ballistics, virtual autopsy, and crime scene reconstruction — unlock the mystery of what really happened the night McLoughlin died.
Using her formidable talents as a writer, researcher, and forensic scientist, Debra Komar weaves a tale that could almost be fiction, with larger-than-life characters and dramatic tension. In telling the story of John McLoughlin, Jr., Komar also tells the story of Canada's north and its connection to the Hudson's Bay Company.
Komar, a forensic anthropologist who has investigated human rights violations for the United Nations, uses archival research and forensic tools to reinvestigate and get to the truth of a murder 170 years after it was committed. In April of 1842, chief trader John McLoughlin Jr. was assassinated by his own crew of workers at their Hudson's Bay Company post on the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada. The men were known to have disliked McLoughlin and some had threatened to kill him, but the company's governor, Sir George Simpson, relied on their accounts of the incident to conclude that the murder was a matter of self-defense against McLoughlin's drunken rampages. Though the company closed the books on the matter without a trial, McLoughlin's father never relented in his efforts to disprove Simpson's version of the facts. Komar paints vivid pictures of life in rugged outposts and circles of power in the company, which once owned much of the territory that became modern Canada. Skillfully weaving together source material with her own insightful and very readable prose, Komar tells a story that will intrigue both historians and mystery lovers. Carolyn Swayze, Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency.