Hi friends, welcome back to our Showcase of great guests and bestselling authors, people I’ve been privileged to meet through artistic and literary circles. Each writer’s background is as unique and intriguing as their work, captured in a wonderful array of acclaimed and popular titles.
Our first Showcase this year is a visit with reporter Eve Lazarus, author of the #1 Bestseller, Cold Case BC: The Stories Behind the Province’s Most Intriguing Murder and Missing Person Cases, in which Eve investigates long forgotten and unsolved murder cases throughout British Columbia, including case facts and victims revealed through stories broken by Lazarus herself. Interviews with law enforcement, forensic experts, and family and friends of the victims add new life to these historical cases, some of which date back to the Second World War. The book also includes cases that have been solved, revealing the painstaking investigative work and new forensic technology that ultimately brought closure for victims’ families. Meticulously researched, Cold Case BC is a fascinating true crime book that reveals startling details about the province’s criminal past.
Hello Eve, and welcome to the Showcase! Let’s start by introducing you with your bio.
Eve Lazarus is an author, reporter and the host and producer of the Cold Case Canada true crime podcast. Her bestselling books include Cold Case BC, Vancouver Exposed, Murder by Milkshake, Sensational Vancouver, and Blood, Sweat, and Fear. Eve’s books have garnered seven nominations including finalist for the Best National True Crime Book, the City of Vancouver Book Award, and the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award of the BC Book Prizes, with Sensational Vancouver receiving a City of Vancouver Heritage Award. Eve administers the Facebook group page Cold Case Canada, and blogs at Every Place Has a Story, at evelazarus.com.
(Bill) A remarkable resume, Eve. What a privilege to get to know you. Tell us, please, what inspired you to start writing books?
(Eve) Twenty years ago, I was working as a business reporter and freelance writer. One Saturday, I was reading the Homes section of the Vancouver Sun, and there was a story that mentioned James Johnstone. James lived in Strathcona and was paid to research people’s homes and find out who lived in their house, what happened in their house, and how the house fit into the neighbourhood and the history of Vancouver. I called up James and told him I wanted to write a story about him. He gave me a tour of his neighbourhood, and pointed out houses that were former brothels, bootlegging joints, where murders had taken place, and where a ghost still resided. I sold this idea that a house has a social history to several publications including Style at Home, Nuvo, Marketing Magazine, and the Globe and Mail. Eventually it morphed into At Home with History: The Untold Secrets of Greater Vancouver’s Heritage Homes, published by Anvil Press in 2007. By the time that I wrote Cold Case Vancouver: The City’s Most Baffling Unsolved Murders in 2015, I realized that I’d moved from writing about Vancouver’s sketchy history to writing historical true crime.
(B) That’s quite a transition. You seem to be doing what you’re meant to, not only sharing intriguing historical stories, but helping people as well. What prompted you to create Cold Case BC?
(E) It was really an evolution of my past work. After Cold Case Vancouver came out in 2015, I realized that families needed somewhere to remember and talk about their loved ones, and I wanted to include unsolved murders outside of Metro Vancouver, as well as missing person cases. The Cold Case Canada Facebook group now has several thousand members, and in 2020, I launched a podcast by the same name. Cold Case BC: The Stories Behind the Province’s Most Intriguing Murder and Missing Person Cases is a continuation of the Facebook group and the podcast. Many of the cases in the book came to me from family members who follow the Facebook page.
(B) What was that process like?
(E) As in Cold Case Vancouver, I intentionally chose cases that weren’t well known, in which the victims had been essentially forgotten by everyone except their family and friends. I wanted to change that and tell the stories of their lives, and to do that, I need to work closely with the families to get behind the headlines. The other reason why this is important is that police won’t talk about unsolved cases, even ones that are over sixty years old, undigitized, and sitting in a dusty banker box in an RCMP storage unit somewhere. So, I start with contemporary newspaper accounts, move on to Coroner’s inquests and autopsy reports where available, access death certificates and obituaries. While that gives me the basics, the details come from interviews with family and friends, retired detectives, and depending on the story, law enforcement, forensics experts and genetic genealogists.
(B) If you don’t mind telling us, where were you when you wrote the book?
(E) Since I researched and wrote Cold Case BC through the pandemic, most of it took place at my North Vancouver home. When we were able to start travelling again, I visited some of the places around the province that I was writing about in my book. For example, 12-year-old Brenda Byman went missing from outside Invermere in 1961, Philip Porter was kidnapped walking to his Kimberley home in 1969, and two teenagers—Molly Justice and Myfanwy Sanders—were murdered in Saanich on Vancouver Island in the 1940s. Even though I’m writing non-fiction, I try to bring in all the elements of fiction writing—character, setting, creating tension—and it helps me when I can see where they lived and died, or the place they disappeared from.
(B) A fascinating process. And one you do exceedingly well. Thanks Eve, for this insightful visit, and a glimpse of the stories hidden beyond the crime scene tape.
Next time on the Showcase, we visit with Kim Spencer, bestselling author of Weird Rules to Follow. And in personal news, a heartfelt thank-you to every new friend and reader that’s helped make A Season on Vancouver Island a continuous bestseller since we released the book last September! It’s fun and humbling to rub elbows with authors like Eve and Kim on lists like this.
Thanks everyone. Stay well, keep reading, and see you next time!