Shortlisted for the 2021 Crime Writers of Canada Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book
Diplomat father. Murdered mother. Emotionally neglected children. An apparent cover-up. Family dinners will never be the same.
"I think that my father murdered my mother."
That terrible belief spurs author Jeff Blackstock to investigate the circumstances of his mother Carol's death when he was a child. Carol Blackstock died at age 24 in 1959--poisoned by arsenic--but the cause of her death remained shrouded in mystery for decades. Jeff's father George Blackstock was a career diplomat in Canada's foreign service, posted to glamorous Buenos Aires with his wife Carol and their three children. A little more than a year after the family's arrival, the vivacious young mother, now emaciated and in terrible pain, was transferred to Montreal for treatment of a mysterious illness that proved fatal. In the following year, George Blackstock remarried, and a young woman named Ingrid became the feared stepmother to Jeff and his two siblings.
Carol's parents soon had suspicions about their son-in-law George but were unable to get justice for their daughter. Class privilege--George was the scion of a Toronto establishment family and Carol was from modest beginnings--and an aversion to scandal all figured in an apparent cover-up. But secrets have a way of eventually disrupting all families. A damning autopsy report about arsenic poisoning, found among their grandmother's effects, leads Jeff Blackstock and his sister to horrifying revelations about their father. Eventually, they confront him and accuse him of their mother's murder. But George offers only vague explanations that don't add up. George died a broken man, mostly abandoned by his adult children.
A compelling story of a high-society murder, a heartbreaking tale of emotionally neglected children, and an inquiry into the power and privilege of the Anglo upper classes of the time, Murder in the Family chronicles the shocking legacy of deeply buried secrets and betrayal in one's own family.