Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A Thoroughly Wicked Woman

Finished September 5
A Thoroughly Wicked Woman by Betty Keller
This book is based on a true story of a murder that took place in Vancouver in late 1905. Thomas Jackson was the victim. He had been away from home for some time, staking claims, and had only been back in Vancouver a couple of days when he was poisoned. He lived with his wife Theresa, who was much younger than him, and his mother-in-law Esther Jones, who took in boarders. The boarders in the house were Harry Fisher, a nephew of Jones, and Ernest Exall, a young man who worked for the CPR.
There was already a case of theft pending against Esther Jones by her landlord. When the poisoning took place suspicion fell on both women and the boarders. Harry Fisher took off for the states and the two women were arrested for perjury, alleged to have been given at the coroner's inquest.
Keller sets the scene in the introduction, giving us the legal environment, the political environment, and the news scene of the day. Much of the information here comes from newspaper stories, and Keller has created a couple of reporters to assist with this end. Most stories of the day didn't have bylines, so particular reporters were not associated with the stories at the time. This device helps to give a personal touch to the book, without influencing the facts of the case.
It was very interesting to see the legal maneuverings and see how different things are now. One does wonder what eventually happened to all the key players and where they ended up.

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