William Deverell — Novelist

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

Sing a Worried Song

The first (real) review. From Publishers Weekly

publishers weekly worried man

It’s not due to hit the shelves (and cyberspace as an ebook) until spring, but Goodreads, which can never be accused of being a slouch, already has it up on its site. The plot was drawn from a headline murder case the author prosecuted some years ago: a thrill killing with bizarre literary nuances–the accused was inspired, copycat fashion, by the serial killer portrayed in Lawrence Sanders’s First Deadly Sin.

Worried Song ECW catalogue

Here’s the back-story:


“Any resemblance to persons living or dead…”

Though I practised mainly as as a criminal defence counsel, I was on occasion retained by the Attorney-General of British Columbia to prosecute homicide trials, some of which attracted wide public attention.The trial featured in the opening section of this novel roughly recreates one of them, an alleged thrill killing in Vancouver of a lonely down-and-outer.


Killer Review

… of Sing a Worried Song

Well, the first review is in and, inevitably, with my luck, it’s from the pen of my bete noir, Horace Widgeon.Somehow the old bugger got an advance copy and persuaded the editor of The Squib, a pretentious literary quarterly, to allow him to eviscerate Sing a Worried Song.

Killer ReviewOr rather, eviscerate its author. Maybe the people at The Squib thought it would be novel and fun to run a review by a fellow who sued the author for libel and plagiarism.

The attacks border on the personal. “I believe I read somewhere that Deverell has a ‘cult following.’ One can only imagine what strange beliefs this cult holds.”

He writes: “An over-inflated ego is mirrored to us from his pages.” Well, if you’re looking at a mirror, Horace, aren’t you looking at yourself?

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The Blog: August 1

My Grovelling Apology

bill_keyboardPursuant to Article 3 (a) of the Terms of Settlement in the matter of Widgeon v. Deverell, executed this date, I hereby issue the following public statement:

I, William Deverell, sincerely and without reservation apologize to Horace Widgeon, OBE, MBE, (a) for infringing copyright of his various works and writings and (b) for this blog’s many hurtful and unsparingly insensitive comments about his character and his abilities and reputation as a writer, and express my deepest regrets over the distress thereby caused.

There. That was hard to swallow. But Brian Pomerantz, my counsel—and a notorious reprobate—warned that my chances were so bleak that I might walk out of a courtroom stripped of everything but my socks and underwear. (I’d been reluctant to hire such a wild man as Pomerantz, knowing he had just served out a suspension by the Law Society, but no reputable lawyer would take it.)

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The Blog: July 6

On Thrill Killing, Libel, and Writers Block

Where was I? Well, obviously not looking after this sporadic blog.

In my defence, I’ve been driving to complete a first draft of an Arthur Beauchamp novel, a kind of horror sendup, a thrill killer stalking our anxiety-ridden hero. Does he survive? I won’t spoil the ending.

Still looking for a title. The Last Days of Arthur Beauchamp, something like that.

As well, I’ve been distracted by my personal horror show: that grumpy old fellow pictured in my posting of March 19 just won’t let up. To my astonishment, Horace Widgeon has discovered crowd-funding, and is exhorting his fans to kick in for the doubtless atrocious fees of his supposed hotshot counsel, Ballentine J. Bingham, Esq.

Regrettably, my guard dogs (see below) turned out not to be as ferocious as I’d hoped, and were nuzzling and crotch-sniffing Bingham’s pretty student lawyer as she thrust a writ at me through my open studio window. I wasn’t checking my security camera – too busy enjoying a scene where Beauchamp gets busted for pot trafficking.

Mesmerized by the sweet scene of face-licking dog love, I accepted the writ. It accuses me of libel and copyright theft. They’re starting at $500,000.

Come on, fellows, why can’t we settle this the old-fashioned way. A gloved slap. Muskets at fifty paces. Otherwise, I have a friend in Sicily (pictured here) prepared to make a counter-offer you can’t refuse. Don Corleone2 We would be saddened to see your client embarrassed by a public revealing of his terrible secret.

Enough said. Back to work. Here’s a lovely, long-winded tip about writers block from my nemesis’s masterwork, Secrets of the Whodunit.

“Do not mentally exhaust yourself. Before chance (and whatever small talents I possess) favoured me with literary success, I too had a day job, as inspector for Her Majesty’s Customs, and I would often arrive at work exhausted after scribbling till three in the morning. Many a smuggled item must have slipped through on my watch! So please, when you see nothing but rot on your page, take a deep breath, pack your pages away, and make a soothing cup of Earl Grey while you climb into your pyjamas.”

I prefer Chandler’s Law: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”

In my last posting, on suspects, I overlooked this delicious advice from the vigilance-challenged former customs officer:

“The tardy entrance of your final suspect must not be seen as an afterthought, idly tossed off. Even the dullest of readers should exclaim: ‘Eureka!’ as they realize they ought to have paid more attention to the boring parts.”

Next posting: how to skip over the boring parts. (For instance, the entirety of Widgeon’s short-story collection, Stiff in the Freezer.)

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The Blog: May 27

On Suspects, Villains, and Masturbation

Six weeks ago, I wrote: “Next week, hopefully, advice from the master in creating the ideal suspect…” Okay, but, things got out of hand. It would take a terabyte of information to explain why and how – the end result is that I have taken in four homeless strangers threatened with eviction.

This is how I found them, behind bars, loo0king for a new home

Four Homless Dogs

So far, they have done an admirable job of keeping process servers from the door. Widgeon’s solicitors in England have finally found some supposedly hotshot Vancouver counsel willing to stifle my right of free expression. I know this guy. Ballentine J. Bingham, Esquire. A loudmouth. Sadly for him, his registered letters and writs of summons don’t make it past the “Premises Protected by Attack Dogs” sign.Anyway, on to my next lesson. From his masterwork, The Art of the Whodunit, here is Widgeon on suspects: “The author must offer an array of suspects, and dress them up with strong motive—or at least clothe them with the proper accoutrements of suspicion.”

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Blog Posts


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.

Just released is Audible.com’s version, available free for a 30-day trial. Dreams Audible

The quality paperback edition is also available as an e-book. For more information and to purchase this title please visit…


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SNow Job book cover

Oct 2009Snow Job

This is the novel that many dared me (a thrice-failed candidate for office) to write: a novel that takes the mickey out of our posturing politicians while maintaining the tension of a true thriller but with great dollops of humour. A genre-jumping finalist for the Stephen Leacock Award, it was read with glee, I’m told, by Ottawa insiders, One wrote: “Warmest congrats on Snow Job, it is your and Arthur’s fulfillment. I was especially delighted by the recognition of the poisonous mix of vanity, fear and highly conditional loyalty that makes up political life at the top. I thought of your acuity as I wandered through various Xmas parties on the Hill this year - rife with angst on all sides.”

For more information and to purchase this title please visit…


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Kill All the Judges

April 2008Kill All The Judges

This comic thriller was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock award, and it drew widely upon this author’s growing collection of characters, including the ever-introspective Arthur Beauchamp, and the Garibaldi Island oddballs who constantly plague him. Here’s a summary:

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April Fool cover

Sept 2006April Fool

Winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for best Canadian crime novel…

“Hugely entertaining.” Calgary Herald

“The insular life of isolated places - Bamfield, Garibaldi - expensive law firms and the courtroom are handled with an insider’s knowledge and an iconoclastic sense of humour. Deverell writes breathless prose. Arthur Beauchamp is a lovely guy – spouting Latin, worrying about getting up to speed in the courtroom after such a hiatus, and fearing an inability to get it up when Margaret leaves her perch. He manages to be a scholar, a courtroom wonder and a doofus. April Fool spills over with idiosyncratic characters. The novel blasts out of the starting gate, rockets along, is hugely entertaining. Deverell plays with the blending of good and bad, but one thing is transparent - the fight for the environment, however goofy at times, is essential.” Edmonton Journal

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Laughing falcon cover

Sept 2004The Laughing Falcon

An adventure thriller layered with humour and startling twists, with a cast of wildly eccentric characters.

All that Maggie Schneider, a shy, awkward romance writer from wintry Saskatoon, wants is a tropical holiday and maybe a real romance to stir her creative juices. What she gets instead, soon after she arrives in Costa Rica, is a nasty surprise. First she is robbed of most of her money by a handsome, smooth-talking Latino. Then she and the wife of a prominent US Senator are kidnapped and held for ransom somewhere in the steamy jungle by self-styled revolutionaries led by a charismatic man with a mysterious background. Enter heavy-drinking Slack Sawchuk, whitewater guide, ex-CIA agent, who is dragged into the thick of things to attempt a daring rescue…

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