Rewind to 1984. Thirteen year old Candace Derksen was abducted. November in Winnipeg is typically quite cold. Six and a half weeks after Candace went missing, she was found in the back of an old shed, tied, frozen and lifeless.
Recently, I read Mike McIntyre's book, Journey for Justice: How 'Project Angel' Cracked the Candace Derksen Case. I found the read interesting because of how relevant the story is to me, the gruesome crime takes place in the city I've called home for 26 years. I found the book to read a lot like fiction, the first half unfolded like a mystery. The emotions and tempo of the story were quite good although at times I found McIntyre to be slightly repetitive. Lengthy medical and legal reports in the second half of the book sort of took away from the true story.
McIntyre is a journalist and this is so apparent through his writing style. Covering these types of cases effectively, it seems inevitable that McIntyre became quite close to the Derksen family. He does an excellent job of describing Candace as a person- and not just a character in the story. McIntyre uses Candace's love for music through literature to connect with the reader, I found this very effective. Throughout the first half of the read, I kept thinking what an interesting perspective it would have been coming from Heidi, Candace's best friend.
This is the first true crime non-fiction I've ever read, so to compare this book to other non-fiction is quite difficult. One of my favourite writers, however, is also a journalist (and Canadian!) Malcom Gladwell. Gladwell is currently a staff writer for the New Yorker. Gladwell's writing is much more fluid and on point than McIntyre's at times. Perhaps tight deadlines and a small publishing house might explain a few spelling and grammatical mistakes throughout the book which can be attributed to the publishing company.
Overall I enjoyed this book, although I found the second half of the read to be quite factual and less of a "story".
Most people's first experience at Winnipeg Beach isn't on a blustery, snowy day in March. When you mention Winnipeg Beach, people talk about strolling along the boardwalk, ice cream cones that melt faster than you can eat them and endless summer days boating on the giant lake.
Instead, I sat at the local Chinese restaurant with a group of men today, all locals, chatting over luke warm cups of coffee about the old days of Winnipeg Beach. A travel assignment brought me here with Tammy and Suzy, two of my favourite classmates - and people in general, for that matter.
As we sat, our new friends urged each other to start telling stories. The guys wanted to hear John tell the one about the big fish, but he decided to save it for another time. Instead, he told me about how, back in the day, they used to cut slabs of ice out of the lake, haul them with horses and ship them off to Winnipeg. You know, when people used ice boxes as freezers? John used to be Winnipeg Beach and Gimli's milkman.
The group continued to banter back and forth, until Allan, one of our new friends, offered to 'just run home quickly to show you guys the old phone directory'. The sweet charm of small towns never fails to warm my heart.
Our server, Geri, who also happens to own the motel in town, also offered to 'just run home quick, and get you guys the CBC dvd special they did about Winnipeg Beach'. Again. My heart melts. I've known Geri and Allan for maybe 25 minutes and they both offer to run home and bring something that will surely help our trio with our travel assignment. I mean, honestly. That kind of thing just wouldn't happen in the city.
Thanks so so much to our new friends at Winnipeg Beach for being so warm and sharing your stories with us. John, I still want to hear about that big fish and Geri - Tammy, Suzy and I are looking forward to a girls weekend at the lake, so save us a room in July!