Pub date: March 25, 2014
The need for swift justice easily morphs into a race to convict, and in our haste, the innocent are sometimes mistaken for the guilty.
In the winter of 1896, 14-year-old Annie Kempton was brutally murdered. Throat slashed, face beaten, she bled to death on the floor of her family home in Bear River, Nova Scotia.
An entire community and a salacious media rose and pointed their finger at one man: Peter Wheeler. According to the newspapers of the day, not only had Peter Wheeler killed Annie Kempton, he had also committed the unforgivable sin of being dark-skinned and foreign-born, a hired hand who had never learned his place. Thanks to a Halifax detective, the self-proclaimed Sherlock Holmes of the Maritimes, Wheeler was strung up in the dead of night.
The case was among the first in Canada to introduce forensic evidence in a courtroom. Re-examining the evidence using modern techniques, Komar reveals how Peter Wheeler was the victim of a state-sanctioned lynching, executed for a crime he didn’t commit.
The Lynching of Peter Wheeler is the second of four books planned by Komar about historic crimes in Canada. The first in the series, The Ballad of Jacob Peck, was released in 2013 to critical acclaim.
“Komar’s narrative is fast paced and grounded in extensive genealogical and historical research, giving it a sure-footedness not always found in true crime writing.” — Margaret Conrad, Literary Review of Canada
“Debra Komar brings a career's worth of modern-day forensic smarts to her dissection of this more than 100-year-old miscarriage of justice. But she brings something more — and more important: the sure hand of a natural story teller who can make us see, feel, and understand the injustice of it all.” — Stephen Kimber, What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five
“A fascinating account of historical racism and injustice in the True North — strong, but NOT so free. Komar writes with great clarity of prose and mind. The Lynching of Peter Wheeler is an indispensable book for any lover of Canadian true crime or criminal history. Highly recommended!” — Lee Mellor, author of Rampage: Canadian Mass Murder and Spree Killing