Black River Road
An Unthinkable Crime, An Unlikely Suspect, and the Question of CharacterUnknown - 2016
Shortlisted, Arthur Ellis Best Non-Fiction Crime Book Award
In 1869, in the woods just outside of the bustling port city of Saint John, a group of teenaged berry pickers discovered several badly decomposed bodies. The authorities suspected foul play, but the identities of the victims were as mysterious as that of the perpetrator. From the twists and turns of a coroner's inquest, an unlikely suspect emerged to stand trial for murder: John Munroe, a renowned architect, well-heeled family man, and pillar of the community.
Munroe was arguably the first in Canada's fledgling judicial system to actively defend himself. His lawyer's strategy was as simple as it was revolutionary: Munroe's wealth, education, and exemplary character made him incapable of murder. The press and Saint John's elite vocally supported Munroe, sparking a debate about character and murder that continues to this day. In re-examining a precedent-setting historical crime with fresh eyes, Komar addresses questions that still echo through the halls of justice more than a century later: is everyone capable of murder, and should character be treated as evidence in homicide trials?