Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Deck the Shelves! Susan Chooses “The Boy”

Susan Toy was one of our many wonderful supporters in the blogosphere after the release of Lifecycle of a Book. She’s also a consultant and vocal supporter of authors who are trying to find their place in the changing world of publishing. Make sure to check out her blog.


The Boy

by Betty Jane Hegerat
Published by Oolichan Books, Fernie, BC, Canada

With The Boy, Hegerat has skillfully woven together the fact of investigative journalism with the fiction of a novella using strands of memoir and a writer’s journal. She has created a compelling story surrounding a childhood memory from 1959 when a brutal mass-murder was committed and Robert Raymond Cook found guilty, becoming infamous for being the last man hanged in the province of Alberta.

I know this was a difficult book for Hegerat to write–she herself has described it at readings as “a beast of a book.” But in dredging up the memories, and researching extensively into this crime and the people involved, she has avoided simply retelling the gruesome details and has instead worked her way into the heart of this story, which although a localized event, in Hegerat’s hands it truly becomes universal in interest. Rather than answering questions, Hegerat raises more that should have been askedat the timeĀ  – about the crime, the people involved, and how the story of it affected the community at large. This is a story that lives on in your mind long after you close the book.


  1. Deb says:

    What an amazing book The Boy is. Hegerat weaves truth and fiction together as only a master crafts person can, leaving us with a beautiful work of art and compelling the reader to explore the crime more thoroughly on their own and draw their own conclusions.

    • It’s great to have a second on this (and any!) recommendation. I hope The Boy will find more deserved readers on account on your and Susan’s warm praise. Will you yourself be giving this book as a gift this year?

  2. carin says:

    A gem, this book. Beautifully written, and presented, in part, as a discussion between the writer and one of the characters. I was completely drawn into the world of the story, which is based on the facts of an actual 1950’s murder case.


  3. Amazing amazing amazing. Not only a reader’s book, but a writer’s.

    Read it for its beautiful prose. Read it for characters that will become voices in your head for months after the last page. Read it to see a gifted author’s master class on point-of-view.

  4. It’s really impressive to see enthusiastic readers turning out with such warm praise–and in such numbers!

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