I'm not a fan of true crime that emphasizes the crime and the brutality of it. However, the subtitle of Kate Clark Flora's book, Death Dealer, indicates she takes a different tack. Subtitled "How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice", it follows the police who investigated the disappearance of Maria Tanasichuk. Flora takes readers step-by-step through the investigation, arrest, and trial, with emphasis on the investigation. As a fan of police procedurals, I found this account riveting.
The story of Maria Tanasichuk takes place in the small community of Mirimichi, New Brunswick. And, the prologue pulls the reader into the story as it tells of the fears of a police officer that a predator was outside his house, one who had sworn he'd get even with the police for following him and considering him a suspect. And, then the author backs up, and leads us to that scene. On Jan. 26, 2003, David Tanasichuk reported that his wife Maria was missing. Detective Brian Cummings was immediately sympathetic and concerned. He had grown to know the Tanasichuks after Maria's son, B.J. was killed. Cummings had seen them as parents of the victim, and he spent a great deal of time with them.
And, then David's story started to sound strange to Cummings. Why did he wait ten days to report his wife missing? Why were his dates at variance with those of Maria's friends? David's story that he and Maria were having problems due to his increased drug use was credible. But as one lie piled up on another, it became obvious that the police had to look at Maria's husband as a suspect in her disappearance. And, once David Tanasichuk understood the police suspected him as knowing more than he was telling, he turned on the police, threatening their families. Tanasichuk had a reputation for violence, along with skill with guns and bows and arrows. He was a cunning man, and his lies proved he couldn't be trusted. As the small force hunkered down, protecting their families with alarms and guns, they became desperate to find answers. Where was Maria?
Flora carefully leads readers through the investigation, month after month of talking to witnesses, following clues, hunting for a body. And, then, one detective thinks to ask for help from another country, bringing in the Maine game wardens and volunteers with their cadaver dogs.
Death Dealer is as riveting as any true crime show on television, as Flora carefully follows the investigation, introducing all the players, the police, the suspect, the friends and witnesses. And, then she leads us through the anxiety of waiting and searching with the dogs. There's drama every step of the way, leading up to the suspense of a trial.
Kate Flora tells the dramatic story of a small police force determined to find justice for the members of their community, if it takes sleepless nights, hours of backbreaking investigation. Death Dealer is not the story of a killer. It's a story of heroic action to bring answers, and find justice, for a woman who was a victim of violence.
Kate Flora's website is www.kateflora.com, and she is one of the bloggers at MaineCrimeWriters.com
Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice. New Horizon Press. 2014. ISBN 9780882824765 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.