William Deverell — Novelist

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

Trial of Passion

Trial of Passion Cover

Winner of the Dashiell Hammett award for literary excellence in crime writing in North America, and the Arthur Ellis award for best Canadian crime novel. Arthur Beauchamp, the brilliant lawyer first introduced in The Dance of Shiva, is healing from a marital crisis in the peace of Garibaldi, a Gulf Island off the coast of British Columbia, where his biggest problem is dealing with his gently eccentric island neighbours. But his relative idyll is interrupted when his former law colleagues plead for his return to lead the defence in the trial of Jonathan O’Donnell, the charming acting Dean of Law at the University of British Columbia. O’Donnell has been charged with raping one of his students, Kimberly Martin, a sexy, intelligent woman used to getting her own way. Whether or not O’Donnell is found guilty, he has a world to lose, but so does Martin – her engagement to a wealthy but pathologically jealous boyfriend.

Author’s note: This multi-award-winning novel was winnowed from among a thousand entries from the U.S. and Canada for the Hammett prize – and ultimately selected by a panel of three judges: the editors of the New Yorker, the Nation and the Globe and Mail’s crime book section. Its provenance was a racy and notorious rape trial that I defended involving booze, bed, and bondage in a ritzy Vancouver residence.


“WOW! It was one of the most pleasurable reading experiences of my life. The mystery aspect of this novel is top-notch, but it is easily surpassed by the larger-than-life character of Arthur Beauchamp, a truly memorable person. Perhaps every five years or so I re-read a mystery - it is a rare occasion. I will re-read this book. It was such a delight. It is the best book that I have read in the 1990s. It is the only book in my 13 years of review that I have ever given five stars to.” Geroge Easter, Editor, Deadly Pleasures.

“A distinct departure for Deverell, moving him to a richer and more complex area that retains a thriller’s tension but brings depth of character and complex social issues into the mix.” Vancouver Sun

“Brilliantly realized characters. A complex and surprising novel.” Montreal Gazette

“A masterful job, a terrific book.” Financial Post

“The pithy exchange between lawyers in court is more rivetting than the real thing… Literary suspense fiction which readers will find hard to put down.” Calgary Herald.

“It is about love, passion, and fine lines too easily crossed. Deverell handles his material like the skilled artist he is, deftly keeping the reader in suspense until the astonishing conclusion.” Saint John Telegraph-Journal

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