by Barb, who is currently serving on a jury in a criminal case
Now Kate’s back to talk about Death Dealer, her true crime book, which has been nominated for an Agatha Award for non-fiction.
Here’s the description of Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice.
Death Dealer is a gripping true crime story of committed investigators from two countries and their cooperation in the relentless pursuit of a brutal murderer. It’s intriguing from the moment David Tanasichuk reports his wife, Maria, missing. Explaining the ten-day delay in notifying authorities, David claims that he and Maria were having marital troubles and she had decided to take a break by leaving town. Suspense builds as lie after lie unravels. David’s reputation for violence and drug abuse makes investigators take his veiled threats against them seriously.
Local police, frustrated by a fruitless wintertime search through miles of frozen wilderness, finally enlist the aid of Maine game wardens along with cadaver dogs and their dedicated volunteer handlers. This Law and Order meets CSI drama culminates in a riveting courtroom drama.
Barb: Welcome back, Kate. Your previous true crime book, the Edgar-nominated Finding Amy, scared the stuffing out of me, and not only because I had a daughter who was Amy St. Laurent’s age when I read it. After you finished that book, you vowed, “never again.” What was so compelling about the story behind Death Dealer that you broke your promise?
That led me on a series of hellish drives up to northeastern New Brunswick, Canada, but the people there were so open and welcoming, and I was quickly convinced, as with Amy St. Laurent, that Maria Tanasichuck’s story—and the story of the officers dedicated to getting her justice—really mattered.
Then I had a conversation with a New York agent who specialized in true crime, and when I told him the story, including the part where the bad guy starts stalking the police and their families, he said I should go find a better story, that no one was going to be interested in reading about a small town Canadian crime. Stubborn Yankee that I am, that was all it took to ensure I’d write the book.
Barb: Death Dealer is the story of the search for Maria Tanischuk’s body and the Maine Game Wardens and cadaver dogs who aid the Canadian authorities. What was the most surprising thing you did to research this book?
Kate: Good question. Certainly among the things that were new and different were:
- Hiding in the mosquito-filled spring woods on a cadaver and search dog training, waiting to be found. Luckily, I only had to be lost. I didn’t have to be a cadaver.
- Driving an ATV deep into the Canadian woods to view the spot where Maria’s body was found. First time on an ATV. We’ll skip the part involving the emergency room.
- Going on a stake out with the Miramichi police, and being the one to spot the thief.
Barb: And on the flip side, what is the most surprising thing you learned as you researched this book?
Barb: You write both fiction and non-fiction. I’m sure you could write a book about the differences, but I wonder about your mindset. In a nutshell, as you go to your desk every day, what is the difference between making stuff up and uncovering the truth? What is similar?