Thursday, September 30, 2010

THE DEATH OF DONNA WHALEN by Michael Winter (2010)

Steven Truscott, Guy Paul Morin, David Milgard and now Sheldon Troke--all members of the pantheon of wrongfully convicted Canadians.

Michael Winter's documentary novel is a game changer. Reminiscent stylistically of Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD, Winter's THE DEATH OF DONNA WHALEN relies heavily on documentary evidence including thousands of pages of court transcripts, police wiretaps, personal diary entries, newspaper reports and private letters. Through a polyphony of third person narratives, Winter exposes the flawed process that led to Sheldon Troke's conviction of the brutal stabbing death of his girlfriend Donna Whalen.

This filmic book reads like a Hollywood thriller with stock elements including a paid informant, a delusional witness (convinced she could communicate regularly with angels), coerced testimonies, bungling police investigation, and family feuding, but all are shockingly real. There is enough emotional distance provided to stomach the forensic details, yet you are sure to come away from the story feeling moved to outrage or to pity. Most certainly you will wonder where the justice could possibly be for Donna Whalen's family.

Written in Winter's trademark style where you feel as much an eavesdropper as a reader, THE DEATH OF DONNA WHALEN is certainly worth your time.

1 comment:

Steph said...

I'm really glad you mentioned the book having enough emotional distance that we could stomach the details. I wondered about that!

Looking forward to reading this; thanks for pointing me to your review!