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Book Review: Cold Case BC

As a fellow cold case blogger and podcaster, as well as a former resident of the Lower Mainland, Eve Lazarus’ Cold Case BC was an instant must-read. Eve is the best-selling author of Cold Case Vancouver and has a popular podcast called Cold Case Canada. She covers historical unsolved murders, missing persons cases, and even solved cold cases.

Cold Case BC presents several cases set in beautiful British Columbia over a 50-year span, from World War II to 1993. A chapter dedicated to each case opens with a tantalizing tease from the perspective of a family member, the public, the media, or even an investigating officer. Some of the cases will be new to you, such as Molly Justice, while others will be familiar, for example, The Babes in the Woods. Regardless, Eve’s skilled research and writing provides a layer of rich texture and insight.

While all of the cases in Cold Case BC are expertly researched, supported, and presented several personally resonated with me. Let me take you through a few: 

We are looking at an organized or planned abduction, we are looking at the possibility of a random pickup, and we are still looking at the possibility of her wandering off into the bush.

Staff Sergeant Phil Harden

I was a teenager in Maple Ridge, BC in 1989 when three-year-old Casey Rose disappeared from Delta, only 30 minutes away. You can imagine the fear that swept through the Lower Mainland when police seemed to lack any clear direction in this terrifying case. I read this chapter with rapt attention, fascinated by the family complexities I did not know about back then. As I am writing this, Casey’s case remains unsolved and still haunts the Lower Mainland… and me.

When police entered the house, they found six Easter baskets—one for each child—and a large Easter cake on the kitchen counter. They also found eight bodies scattered over all three floors of the house. Each had been shot in the head.

Eve Lazarus

As my partner Rick will tell you, I am decidedly NOT interested in stories about gangs, heists, or police officers gone bad. Yet Eve’s recounting of the shady dealings, major burglaries, and police corruption in the interwoven chapters “When Cops Were Robbers” / “When Cops Were Murderers” held my attention. And it ended up being well worth my while as these stories culminated in the tragic, intriguing murder of the Hogue family in 1965. To this day there is heated debate as to whether Len Hogue was responsible for a murder/suicide scenario or if others committed the ghastly murders. 

If you watch a lot of crime shows, you might think that justice works like this: after a crime is committed, police investigate and gather evidence. They arrest a suspect, charge them, and the case goes to court, where a jury of peers determine the suspect’s guilt or innocence. Well no, not exactlyWhile police always say cold cases are never closed, they’re not always open either.

Eve Lazarus

The idea of justice is brought into sharp focus throughout Cold Case BC. One the one hand, Eve proves police are often “largely untrained and ill equipped” to investigate cold cases. Fallout from this includes low closure rates and a lack of police transparency, resulting in re-victimization of loved ones and no justice served. On the other hand, Eve details the painstaking work some police officers undertake to close cases, as well highlights the new tools available to assist them. For example, the investigation into Gladys Wakabayashi’s gruesome murder in 1992 finally resulted in a conviction 19 years later. As for the new tools to help get justice, Eve outlines the role of forensic technologies, including advances in DNA, and how this is finally closing cold cases. What could be dry, technical information and statistics is brought to life through real cold cases, including the Lucy Ann Johnson and Lindsey Nicholls cases.

Prince George is a small community and look at all the shit that is happening here. Isn’t that the bigger story? What the hell is going on here?

Former Prince George Social Worker Ceoral Andrist

A book on BC cold cases would not be complete without an exploration of the disappearance and murder of Indigenous women and girls. Eve’s entry into this challenging topic rightly involves the Highway of Tears: a 725-kilometre (450-mile) stretch of Highway 16 that runs between Prince George and Prince Rupert. Since 1970, a horrifying number of Indigenous women and girls have vanished from, or been found murdered along, this notorious stretch of highway. Eve does a deep dive into three of the cases, including Gloria Levina Moody—the highway’s first official victim—and successfully brings to the forefront some of the injustices faced by Indigenous women and girls in BC.  

Well, that about sums up why I think Cold Case BC is a must-read for any true crime fan. Eve’s work stands out from the rest thanks to her in-depth research, context-setting, and, even more importantly, the time she spends with the family and friends of the victims. As a result, the reader gets the rare opportunity to know the person behind the victim as well as how their disappearance or murder impacted their loved ones and their community. Ultimately, Eve breathes new life into cold cases, reviving them and keeping memories and hope alive. 

Buy a copy of Cold Case BC here.

Interested in cold cases set in BC? Check out our article on the disappearance of Roberta Ferguson and our audio file on the disappearance of Lisa Marie Young.

*Note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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