The Pickton File.

Description

288 pages
Contains Photos, Index
$24.95
ISBN 978-0-676-97953-4
DDC 364.152'30971133

Publisher

Year

2007

Contributor

Reviewed by Geoff Hamilton

Geoff Hamilton is a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of
British Columbia.

Review

Investigative journalist Stevie Cameron explores here the case of the Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert “Willie” Pickton and the women he (at the time of the book’s writing) was accused of killing. Cameron offers an account of her initial interest in covering the case after Pickton’s arrest in 2002, through her attendance at his preliminary hearings, to the beginning of his trial on multiple counts of murder in 2007. Pickton, now convicted, is thought to be Canada’s most prolific serial killer.

 

Cameron contributes very little in this book to our understanding of the case itself, and her poor timing (publishing before Pickton’s conviction had been announced and while a publication ban on certain information was in effect) limits the scope of what she can say. Her brief biographical sketches of several of the victims, as well as her account of the impact on some of their family members, fills in gaps in what has already been publicly discussed about the case, but the bulk of what appears here is, to put it bluntly, old news. Too much of the book focuses on the rather insipid details of Cameron’s arrangements for moving to Vancouver and attending the trials; this material may be of interest to those who wonder what it’s like to cover a trial as a journalist, but it comes at the expense of any genuine “investigation” into the details and context of the crimes themselves. Her critique, for instance, of the RCMP Vancouver Police Department task force assigned to the case, her psychological assessment of Pickton (based on very limited interviews with acquaintances) and her big-picture analysis of how such a brazen killer could evade serious police attention for so long, read more like retread summaries of other newspaper and magazine articles than original research.

 

Those searching for more penetrating insight into Pickton’s grotesque weirdness, and the abject social conditions he made visible, should look elsewhere (or await Cameron’s follow-up, Pig Farm, due out in 2010).

Citation

Cameron, Stevie., “The Pickton File.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 29, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/27736.