Purloined Newsletter December 2012

The Purloined Newsletter

December 2012

 Into the 21stC and beyond!

For the sake of more regular and timely information, we have decided to move the Purloined Newsletter from the print/pdf world to an interactive, online experience. This will allow Patty and I to update the news and keep up to date with submissions on a regular basis.

This section remains for members only.

The Capital Crime Writers’ site is hopefully soon undergoing some changes and we will move this newsletter section to a main, members only, area. At the end of each month we will archive the section as a PDF for future viewing.

Hopefully this works well. But, then, only time will tell.

If you haven’t registered for the December year end dinner, do so here: http://capitalcrimewriters.com/news/



The November Meeting Recap

By Brenda Chapman

“Did I miss something?” This is the question that was to become Ottawa officer Syd Gravel’s mantra.

On August 16, 1987, at approximately 4 a.m., a dispatcher radioed that two suspects had carried out an armed robbery in Gloucester and officers were to be on the lookout for two men in a getaway car. A short time later, Syd Gravel and his partner spotted a car containing what they believed to be the two armed robbery suspects heading east on Walkley Road.  However, the driver had long hair and looked like a woman, creating some confusion. Syd radioed in to the dispatcher for a better description of the suspects just before they pulled the car over. As the male driver of the car, who had long hair, started walking toward the police car, the dispatcher read out a description of the two men, which matched the two suspects exactly. Unfortunately, the driver overheard. He realized that he and his buddy had been ID’d and ran back to his car. A short chase ensued, which ended with the suspects hitting two parked cars in a parking lot before coming to a stop.

Syd and his partner, who’d been on the force all of  three weeks, arrived on the scene in time to stop one of the suspects as he jumped onto the roof of a parked car that was in his way as he fled. He had his hand down the front of his jeans as if holding a gun. When he turned, on Syd’s partner after ignoring demands to show his hands, Syd shot and killed the suspect with one shot from a distance of thirty feet. The other suspect immediately gave himself up.

Other police officers arrived and they joined Syd where he stood next to the dead suspect. When they rolled over the young man’s body, they discovered that he didn’t have a gun. Syd immediately realized that he’d shot an unarmed man and went into shock, falling against the car, sweating and having trouble breathing and focusing. He handed over his gun and was brought to the station where he was assigned a lawyer and interviewed as a suspect in a manslaughter charge. Fourteen hours after the shooting, he was allowed to go home. Not once while he was being interviewed was he asked how he felt.

The entire incident, from the car chase to the death of the suspect took a mere 56 seconds, but it set in motion a six-year investigation before his actions deemed ‘acceptable, defendable and reasonable’, and a lifetime of post traumatic stress and questioning what he missed that night that led him to shoot an unarmed man.

Now retired Staff Sergeant Syd Gravel began his presentation with this second-by-second description of the events as they unfolded that fateful night in 1987; he spoke movingly about the effect that shooting and killing the fleeing robber suspect wrought on his life. For the next six years, he struggled with mood swings, anger, frustration, nightmares and loneliness that he refused to share with his wife or those closest to him. He carried on at work while keeping everyone at arm’s length, making himself “socially isolated”. When the case was finally closed, only then did Syd collapse physically and mentally. He took a three-month leave of absence to recover under a doctor’s care.

A chance meeting with another detective sergeant who’d been through the same trauma led Syd to form a support group with other officers who’d either shot someone or been nearly killed themselves. Syd went on to become one of the founding fathers of Robin’s Blue Circle in 1988, a post-shooting trauma team to assist officers work through the trauma of death, or near-death, work-related incidents.

Syd Gravel completed a distinguished (over) thirty year career in frontline policing for the Ottawa Police Service. Among other honours, he received the police Exemplary Service Medal in 1999, and in 2007, he was inducted as a member of the order of Merit in Policing. During his career, he continued his work helping other officers deal with post-traumatic stress, giving workshops and speaking about the issue while personally counselling over forty officers involved in near-death incidents over a twelve-year period.

In 2012, Syd released his book 56 Seconds, which details his journey and is a resource for other officers needing support. He dedicates the book to his wife and to “all those suffering alone and silent” so that they “will be alone and suffer no more”. Our CCW meeting was the first time Syd presented his talk to a group outside the police community, so we were very fortunate to receive this glimpse into the lives of police officers and to gain insight into the personal suffering they endure because of trauma experienced in the line of duty.


Rocking in Cleveland

By Brenda Chapman

The American annual conference Bouchercon is much like Canada’s Bloody Words, only on steroids. For a weekend each October (coinciding with our Thanksgiving) about 1500 fans and authors and fans descend on a different U.S. city for four days of panels, signings, parties and schmoozing. This year, the host city was Cleveland, Ohio.

The first (and only other) Bouchercon that I attended was 2008 in Baltimore.  I remember being amazed by the size of the event and the fan fervour. Most of the big-name American and British authors, I’d never read—Harlan Coben, Lee Child, John Connolly, John Harvey—but my travelling mate Katherine Hobbs and I happily posed for photos with most of them and sat in on their panels. I returned home and began making my way through their books, which proves the value of these conferences for authors. I was also on a panel, but definitely felt like a little guppy in a great big sea.

This October, I joined Mary Jane Maffini, Robin Harlick and Linda Wiken for a road trip to Cleveland. These women are seasoned conference travellers and know all the best Applebees, Chicos and rest stops en route, not to mention they enjoy a good chuckle. We took turns driving and thirteen hours after I left home, arrived in Cleveland around 7:30 that Wednesday evening. First glitch came when I tried to register in the same hotel as Mary Jane and Linda only to discover that I was in the Marriot Renaissance, the main conference hotel, a ten-minute walk away. We made the jaunt over and spent the next few hours in the crowded hotel bar eating supper and unwinding while the first of the Obama-Romney debates was on every television set. President Obama even put in a campaign visit to Cleveland that same weekend.

M, with travel mates Mary Jane, Linda and Robin on the road to Cleveland.


Thursday morning, the festivities began. Stepping off the elevator into the lobby, I was met by crowds of fans and authors, milling about, greeting old friends and figuring out where the panel and book rooms were located. The lobby was a beehive of activity for the rest of the weekend, in fact. I also discovered that internet access would cost $13 a day to have in my room but was free in the lobby, so I carved out some time every day to blog and check e-mail on one of the benches. In addition, this turned out to be a great way to meet people.

I registered and received my bag of books and name tag, then proceeded to breakfast in the hotel dining room. Afterwards, I chatted with bookseller Don Longmuir in the book room only to find that he’d been held up at the U.S. Customs when crossing the border and they’d refused to let him across with his books even though he had all the required paperwork completed in advance. Unfortunately, he had the bulk of the paperbacks and most of the Canadian stock. I made my way to a ball room and caught up on news with Lou Allin from B.C. before watching Robin Harlick in her panel, “Where the air is fresh and the dead bodies are not”.

Now, I have to admit that I’ve become a less faithful panel attendee than I used to be. I sat in on a few, including Mary Jane’s and Linda’s, and another couple with Elizabeth George, Mark Billingham, John Connolly and Karen Slaughter, but I paced myself and spent more time socializing than I had previously, the main point of these conferences as it turns out.

Waiting for Robin’s panel to begin.

Thursday evening was a gala at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with wine and cheese and lots of mingling. I toured the exhibits with Linda and Anthony Bidulka and as a big fan of rock and roll, was in heaven seeing all the memorabilia from the biggest names in rock history. I could have spent a few more afternoons roaming around and soaking up the history if time had allowed.




Robin and Mary Jane in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Linda Wiken and I were on a panel talking about murder in small town America (ironic since we’re Canadian) on Friday morning. Afterwards, we both hiked over to her hotel for a luncheon put on by the Cleveland Public Library. Crime Writers of Canada hosted ‘Meet the Canucks’ night Friday night with MC Anthony Bidulka and organizers Vicki Delany, Cathy Astolfo and Rick Bletcha leading the charge. Anthony posed a multiple choice question to the audience about the most recent work of fourteen or so Canadian authors, with each author then gave the winning person a signed copy of their book. It was a light-hearted evening complete with wine and cheese, initiated as a way to introduce our authors to the American audience.

Conference highlights:  Being a few feet from Michael Connelly in the book room—one of my favourite crime authors; taking a terrific photo of Mary Higgins Clark as I passed by her on my way to dinner; spending an afternoon talking books with Rick Mofina in the hotel bar; spending a Saturday afternoon shopping and lunch outing to Chagrin Falls with Mary Jane, Linda and Robin; meeting a retired Florida English prof and her husband; a final dinner out with a Canadian gang . . . all great fun and frankly invigorating. I came home tired but eager to get back writing. I’m already planning which conferences I’ll attend when my next two books come out in fall 2013.

Mary Higgins Clark










Michael Connolly in conversation.

Next October, Bouchercon 2013 ‘A New York State of Mind’ will be in Albany with another great line up of crime authors.

Relive my real-time musings at Cleveland Bouchercon by scrolling down the October blog at:  http://brendachapman.blogspot.ca/2012_10_01_archive.html



From Michael Murphy


Books to Die for: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels.” Edited by John Connolly & Declan Burke.   The number of mystery novels coming out continues to increase.  This includes both new titles and reissues.  At times it can be a challenge to keep up with your favorite novelists.  What about those forgotten gems which you may have missed?  This book will provide you some suggestions.  The book is divided into short essays by well known mystery authors.  Each contributor introduces his favorite book and explains the choice.  One comes away with both an appreciation for the work in question and insight into the contributor.  After reading a number of the chapters I have come away with a list of books which I want to read.  I am currently starting the series by James McClure which takes place in South Africa and features Lieutenant Tromp Kramer and his assistant Sergeant Mickey Zondi.  The book is something you will come back to again and again.

Keigo Higashino.  “Salvation of a Saint”.  Keigo Higashino  is one of Japan’s best selling novelists.  He has written over 3 dozen works.  Twenty films and television series have been made based on his work.  He is the recipient of the Naoki prize.  A man demands a divorce from his wife because she has not become pregnant.  His wife leaves to visit her family.  The husband dies from drinking coffee which contains poison.  Tokyo police detective Kusanagi and his assistant are presented with a number of possible suspects: his wife, his mistress or is the crime business related or is it random.  Professor Manabu Yukawa, a physicist who is friends with Kusanagi becomes involved in the case.  The novel is both a puzzle mystery and a procedural.  It will appeal to both types of mystery fans.