William Deverell — Novelist

The official website of William Deverell, Winner of the Dashiell Hammett Award for Literary Excellence in North American Crime Writing

Whipped: Globe and Mail Review by Margaret Collier

Sex, Scandal, Politics

bill sketch

BY MARGARET CANNON THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Sex, scandal, politics and a sinister New Age guru with the larcenous heart. Yes, we are in the world of Arthur Beauchamp, scion of an old British Columbia family, retired lawyer, raconteur and general gentleman. And, as always, he’s a joy. This time out, Beauchamp’s client is his own wife, Margaret Blake, Leader of the federal Green Party. Margaret is being sued by an MP for leaking a hot little video of him being seriously spanked by a Montreal dominatrix. There’s also a fatwa from the Montreal Mafia. Beauchamp was planning on spending his Golden Years in a hammock on Garibaldi Island but here he is, back planning a defence and wondering if Margaret is really spending all that time working. Or is there someone else? Then there’s the guru. Fans love Deverell for his wit and Beauchamp’s sane Canadian take on the madness of modern life and this one delivers the goods.

And here, from Nick Martin of the Winnipeg Free Press, another review:

Green party Leader Margaret Blake receives a leaked video showing the federal environment minister, an evil climate-change denier, less-than-fully clad with a dominatrix, and being — well, you can speculate about that based on the title of William Deverell’s Whipped (ECW Press, 392 pages, $29).

Continues…

Am I a failed radical?

A thoughtful tribute to my novel “I’ll See You in My Dreams”

I have, without realizing it, drifted far to the right of where my journey began, writes Jonathan Lomas

CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL, NOVEMBER 14, 2017

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? Cold comfort for change? Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage? — Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here.

In my dreams Latham

In my younger days, I wrote angry op-eds on topics such as the need to reform our desperately flawed health-care system. For a time, I was one of those go-to left-wing commentators – you can find us in every media’s Rolodex to offer a progressive perspective. I marched in demonstrations, I led reform coalitions and in my late 20s, I even ran for Parliament (an endeavour admittedly doomed to failure from the start – standing as the NDP’s sacrificial lamb in a riding with Canada’s highest per-capita income). I considered myself a radical, a reformer, something of an outsider with ideas of social justice that needed – nay, demanded – a hearing.

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George Bowering’s Review of WHIPPED

From a Canadian Literary Icon

Sphinx Bowering

He has written 100 books, is a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Award (for poetry and for fiction), has been short-listed for the Griffin Prize, and was the first Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate. Here’s what George wrote about Whipped:

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WHIPPED, from Publishers Weekly

Well-Crafted Review from the USA

whipped cover Whipped

William Deverell. ECW, $24.95 (396p) ISBN 978-1-77041-390-0

Deverell’s absorbing seventh Arthur Beauchamp novel (after 2015’s Sing a Worried Song) finds the QC valiantly trying to enjoy retirement on Garibaldi Island off Canada’s west coast. Back in Ottawa, Arthur’s unfaithful wife, MP Margaret Blake, struggles to keep her tiny Green Party off life support. When former star political reporter Lou Sabatino breaks a story on mafia dealings at Montreal’s port, he loses his job, his family, and his identity under witness protection, but, via the Russian dominatrix in his building, Lou finds a video of Margaret’s political nemesis, environmental minister Emil Farquist, in a compromising situation—and lets her know.

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Review of Whipped by the distinguished novelist Joan Barfoot

Postmedia newspapers

These are strange times — strange enough that it’s actually hard to know if a video of a Canadian cabinet minister fervently and nakedly urging a Russian dominatrix to whip him would necessarily cause a career-ending scandal.

But if it’s a question, it’s one best pursued through the mind and efforts of Canadian crime fiction’s most entertainingly skeptical lawyer, Arthur Beauchamp (pronounced Beecham), and his creator, former journalist and trial lawyer William Deverell.

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Whipped: Toronto Star Review

by Jack Batten

At one moment in the seventh book in William Deverell’s smart, funny and cleverly plotted series featuring the ace barrister Arthur Beauchamp, Beauchamp says that, especially now in virtual retirement, he experienced “a feeling of being fully alive again” only when he walked into a courtroom. That sentiment somewhat applies to readers as well; they too come most alert in the passages when Beauchamp shows his wonderful forensic style before judge and jury.

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Trump’s Final Chapter - a Short Story

From Maclean’s Magazine, August 22, 2017:

The creator of the Arthur Beauchamp series writes a short story imagining the end of the Trump presidency.

I can’t imagine why he chose me, but here I am, in his opulent tropical oceanfront suite, asking myself: do I sell my soul or retreat with honour?

My Struggle is what he proposes to call it—not in some twisted form of irony but because he thinks it’s apt. And I suppose it is. President Trump is in some serious covfefe: He is being witch-hunted by a grand conspiracy of the FBI, the CIA, Congressional weak sisters (his phrase), unknown leakers, and faithless friends, all egged on by the lying liberal media. Foreign banks are foreclosing on the eye-popping loans that have come to light. Even the Russians have turned their backs on Donald Trump. They call him a loser now. They have no more use for him.

trump last chapter

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Can-Lit: Our National Snobbery Disorder.

This is a piece I wrote some time ago at the invitation of the National Post. More relevant than ever, I believe.


The late Marian Engle once confessed to me that she occasionally enjoyed the “guilty pleasure” of reading a mystery. That sums up a common notion: a properly brought up Canadian is expected to feel guilty about reading a book that claims no pretension but to entertain. (I didn’t feel guilty about reading Bear.)

This priggish attitude toward popular fiction is deeply imbedded within our cultural establishment. By establishment, I mean the literature departments of our universities, the book pages of our journals, institutions such as the Canada Council and provincial arts bodies, the CBC, and the big publishing houses.

The infection may have begun in our libraries, and it found a host in our historic inferiority complex, a belief that our culture was little, provincial, unknown. To cover up our shame, that condition has morphed into a national snobbery disorder.

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From the University of Saskatchewan

Press Release October 2016

bill and jan

SASKATOON – He is one of Canada’s best-known novelists, an award-winning crime writer who has also been lauded for his work as a lawyer, journalist, environmentalist and civil rights activist.

On October 22, the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) will pay tribute to alumnus William Deverell when he receives an honorary Doctor of Letters during Fall Convocation ceremonies at TCU Place.

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From The Blog / April 1, 2015

Sing a Worried Song is out … and I’m outa here too

“It takes a worried man to sing a worried song. I’m worried now, but I won’t be worried long.” It’s an old folk song that Arthur Beauchamp can’t get out of his head. But poor old Arthur will have lots to worry about, including his possible violent death.

Whatever happens to him is out of my hands now. Sing a Worried Song is out in hardcover and as an e-book as of today. Now I must return to my untitled, half-finished work-in-progress.

ferry in mist

I’m on my way to ferry and airport.

I’m going off to commune where there’s no phone, no Internet, no email. For three plus months!

Bliss.

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Guess Who Just Hacked Your Blog…

Guest Blog by Bill’s Best Bud / April 2, 2017

That’s your parting shot? “I’m going off to commune where there’s no phone, no Internet, no email.”

You’re off to commune with whom, some hippie muse? Shit, man, we must have missed each other by a crotch hair.

Maybe that was you getting on the ferry as I was getting off. I said to myself, that can’t be Bill. That wild Einsteinian jungle of hair, the cheap sunglasses, the shirt half tucked in. No, couldn’t be you, I decided—you were always a snappy dresser. Back then. In those times of yore.

Don’t bother scrolling down to see who hacked into your blog—yes, it’s me, Bry Pomerantz, faded wunderkind of the big screen, your long-lost, long-ignored side kicker.

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The Wild Hippie Lawyer

Guest Blog by Bill’s Best Bud / April 4, 2017

Yeah, I clipped that item from the National Post. I had no idea. The deep end? You may have tiptoed near the edge. But divorce? Shacking up with hippies?

Flashback to this summery scene: I was sitting on a bench in Stanley Park. A bench I hoped to sleep on if it didn’t rain. The Screenwriters Guild had just denied my appeal to get my membership reinstated. I was homeless, hungover, as taut as a stretched condom, exhausted from ranting on the public pathways.

The final blow had just been delivered that morning: Sue announced I was domestically redundant, and gave me my walking papers. (You won’t know Sue, she was after your time. She’s a lawyer. Also, expensively, an afficionada of fine chopped flake.)

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Escape Fiction

Bry’s Blog / April 7, 2017

Good morning, Blogosphere, I’m back. Hey, Bill, in case you stop by an Internet shop—do they exist where you are?—to check your emails, I have sent a couple to your old Yahoo account. No answer. But of course, anything from muy amigo mio, unheard from for thirty-three years, goes straight into Spam.

I was hoping you might at least glance at your website, your blog, and see my entreaties to make contact. Or maybe one of your cult following of good-humoured, nonconforming eco-liberals, or a relative, your agent, publisher, somebody who knows where the fuck you are, will get word to you that Bry Pomerantz has hacked into both your writing studio and your blog.

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My Near-Death Experience

Bry’s Blog / April 13, 2017

Just had a near-death experience. I was strolling up your driveway when an old pickup rattled down the hill toward me. My only hope was to cannonball into the second growth. Blue Dodge, crumpled fender, peace decal: I told myself to remember these specifics if I survived.

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He that filches my good name

Bry’s Blog / April 22, 2017

Good afternoon, Bill, wherever you are. Still not receiving? Or are you finally tuned in to your blog? I suspect the latter. I see you sitting tight, hoping I’ll go away. I know now why you ran off. Not to escape the horrors of civilization. To avoid me, Bry Pomerantz.

Not just because of the vast guilt and remorse you feel over plagiarizing plot, twists and title of Needles. Yes, the book’s goddamn title—you don’t remember who came up with that? How did I feel when my name didn’t even appear in your acknowledgments? Imagine the sense of being buried alive. needles covers But now you have defamed me. You’ll be singing a very worried song if I sue for libel, bub.

You had erased all your files from your computer (or so you thought), but you forgot to clean out your trash, and there it was, Worried Song2.doc, which I took to be an early draft. I got a few hundred pages into it. I appear as your nemesis. I am the literary analogue of the fucked up character who so prominently lurks throughout its early pages. Brian Pomeroy. Way to come up with an original name.

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Lust. Thrill. Kill.

Bry’s Blog / May 14, 2017

Okay, on-re-reading your partial manuscript (the copy on your computer ends at page 201), I’m thinking Brian Pomeroy comes off not too bad. Shrewd, edgy, witty, and the island ladies think I’m hot. I am in rich contrast to your Arthur Beauchamp, the emotionally self-abusing yet somehow lovable fusspot.

Sing a Worried Song. I get the title, but I’d have advised something harder. You have a vengeful thrill killer on the loose. What about, simply, Kill Arthur! Or, in the modern style, Lust. Thrill. Kill. (Title of a script I wrote in my noir phase. It’s available.) Or how about Thrill Killer Puzzles Police. Wurtz3 Thrill Killer Puzzles Wurtz – that’s the guy you prosecuted, right? Who threatened to get you…

How does it end? Or do you know? Page 201—is that when the muse died of blockage of creative juices? When the walls closed in and you decided to go away somewhere and start life again?

As for your main plotline, let’s see, we have a sadistic, psychopathic killer on the hunt for the prosecutor who sought to convict him. Oh, dear, that’s Needles. We already did that one, didn’t we, Bill?

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Blog Posts

Books

publishers weekly worried man

Sing a Worried Song is out ...

The accused was John Wurtz, a bright young man visiting from Toronto. On his journey west, he’d been absorbed in The First Deadly Sin, a popular thriller by the late Lawrence Sanders, whose mentally warped serial killer uttered musings like, “The murder of a stranger. A crime without motive… The act of killing is an act of ultimate love.”

Morbidly inspired by such ruminations, Wurtz befriended the victim, a stranger to him, and found himself accused of a copycat murder, his quarry stabbed 56 times with a pair of scissors. The only evidence putting Wurtz at the scene of the crime, a humble West End flat, was a single print on a beer bottle on a window ledge.

The chief Crown witness, Wurtz’s traveling companion, had originally cooperated with the police, but at trial changed his story, supporting Wurtz’s alibi. That involved a mysterious third man who’d shown up in the flat, the victim’s jealous male lover.

The trial was a difficult one, well-defended, but after a strenuous cross-examination of the accused, the jury convicted.

As Wurtz, in handcuffs, was led past the prosecution table to begin his life sentence for first degree murder, he paused by my chair and audibly (to me) whispered, “Some day, Mr. Deverell, I’m going to get you.”

Wurtz escaped from Kingston Penitentiary a

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whipped cover

Postmedia review of Whipped by Joan Barfoot: Deverell whips tension into page-turning treat

These are strange times — strange enough that it’s actually hard to know if a video of a Canadian cabinet minister fervently and nakedly urging a Russian dominatrix to whip him would necessarily cause a career-ending scandal.

But if it’s a question, it’s one best pursued through the mind and efforts of Canadian crime fiction’s most entertainingly skeptical lawyer, Arthur Beauchamp (pronounced Beecham), and his creator, former journalist and trial lawyer William Deverell.

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needles editions

Click on 002 Books for all 18 titles.

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books in box 2

April 2015Sing a Worried Song


Globe & Mail Review By Margaret Cannon

Confession time: I love Bill Deverell’s books. I’ve been a fan since the villainous Dr. Au appeared in Needles and Deverell never fails me.

This sixth Arthur Beauchamp book is simply brilliant and should be shortlisted for next year’s Arthur Ellis Award.

The story begins with a bit of court testimony. The witness describes a man arriving in a motel room. It is stark and scary. This leads Beauchamp back to 1987, battling alcoholism and his wife’s infidelity. He’s one of Vancouver’s best defence attorneys but, faced with a truly vile crime – a thrill kill of a local clown – he takes the prosecutor’s role. He wins. He returns to his life and personal demons. Thirty years later, retired, married, fulfilled, and relaxing on glorious Garibaldi Island, Beauchamp is summoned to defend a local man. But his past is lurking there, waiting to rise up and take revenge for murders long thought settled. You won’t put this one down and, as an added bonus, Deverell is one of Canada’s best at developing the B.C. setting. Almost as good as a trip west.


Toronto Star review by Jack Batten

In William Deverell’s new novel, readers can only nod in agreement when he writes of his central character, “Arthur Beauchamp is a worrier. It is what he does best.” After six novels featuring Arthur, we’ve learned to accept and love him as the champion of all worrywarts. He’s 75 now, and he still frets about his manliness, his performances as a criminal defence counsel, his standing in the community, and practically everything else under the sun.

Sing a Worried Song gives us Arthur in full worrying mode at two different stages of his life. The first half of the book takes place more than a quarter century ago when Arthur was still married to Annabelle, the beautiful artistic director of the Vancouver Opera and a serial cheater. At this time in his career, in late 1986, Arthur briefly changes roles in the courtroom, taking on his first and only job as a prosecutor, acting for the Crown in a murder trial.

The case involves a slippery young guy accused of stabbing to death a Vancouver busker. As Deverell presents the trial, it’s gripping stuff. He may be the most convincing of all writers of courtroom stories, way up there just beyond the lofty plateau occupied by such classic courtroom dramatists as Scott Turow and John Lescroart, and in the new book, it’s Deverell at peak form.

The novel’s second half brings us forward to 2012. Arthur has now moved to Garibaldi Island, is married to Margaret Blake, the Green Party MP, and has mostly retired from law. In this half, Arthur has many mini-adventures dealing with Garibaldi’s rustic eccentrics. But throughout this gently humourous stretch, a hangover from the old murder prosecution nags at Arthur. It worries him, and maybe, we readers realize, he may have very good reason for the worry.


National Post Review by Naben Ruthnum

William Deverell’s Sing a Worried Song is about the murder of a clown. While those who fear and hate clowns believe that this is no crime at all, Deverell and his series character, lawyer Arthur Beauchamp, are quick to establish the corpse as a real and troubled person. Joe Chumpy was a gentle Vancouver downtown eastside busker, stabbed several times in his apartment in what appears to be a pointless thrill murder by a visiting Toronto rich kid. The killing could also have been the work of one of the gay prostitutes that Chumpy sometimes hired, but what little evidence and valid testimony there is seem to point to the out-of-town boy.

The book opens at the 1987 trial of the killer, Randolph Skyler — an excellent sinister rich kid name. Deverell’s two kinds of pro at once: an extremely experienced lawyer and a longtime writer of crime fiction, he makes the courtroom scenes lively and realistic, animating the proceedings with details of personality conflicts and Arthur Beauchamp’s shaky hold on his sobriety.

The second half of the novel takes us out of the courtroom and 25 years further on in time, with the retired Arthur Beauchamp leading a much more pleasant life on Garibaldi Island in 2012. The sense of unfinished business from the trial hasn’t faded, and one of the major players from the events of 1987 is threatening to make a reappearance in the most unpleasant of ways.

Deverell writes the first section in the past tense and the second section in the present tense, a neat division that works quite well. Leaving the courtroom also allows each half of the book to be in a slightly different subgenre, making Sing a Worried Song entertaining in a couple different registers.


The Publishers Weekly Review

publishers weekly worried man

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Book cover

2012I’ll See You in My Dreams

In 1962, Arthur Beauchamp is about to undertake his first murder trial. His defendant is Gabriel Swift, a politically active young aboriginal accuse of killing Professor Dermot Mulligan, a former mentor to both men. Arthur becomes increasingly convinced that the police evidence against Gabriel is not only flimsy, but suspiciously convenient in a system - and a society - with entrenched racist assumptions. But as the case progresses, Arthur develops an uncomfortable sense that Gabriel is not telling him the whole truth. And to make matters worse, the green young lawyer is up against a wily veteran of the courts and a clever but biased judge. Five decades later, Arthur remains haunted by the case. Finally, he is compelled to emerge from retirement to try to complete what he began all those years ago. He must pass through some murky and long-repressed personal territory along the way, but the journey ultimately offers hope for the peace of redemption.

Audible.com’s version is available, as is the e-book. For more information and to purchase this title please go to http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/imprints/mcclelland-stewart and click on authors.

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