Murder by Milkshake

By (author): Eve Lazarus

Finalist for Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Prize (BC Book Prizes); Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award; City of Vancouver Book Award

When forty-year-old Esther Castellani died a slow and agonizing death in Vancouver in 1965, the official cause was at first undetermined. The day after Esther’s funeral, her husband, Rene, packed up his girlfriend, Lolly; his daughter, Jeannine; and Lolly’s son, Don, in the company car and took off for Disneyland. If not for the doggedness of the doctor who treated Esther, Rene, then a charismatic and handsome CKNW radio personality, would have been free to marry Lolly, who was the station’s pretty twentysomething receptionist. Instead, Rene was charged with capital murder for poisoning his wife with arsenic-laced milkshakes in one of British Columbia’s most sensational criminal cases of the century.

Murder by Milkshake is the compelling story of the Castellanis, and of their daughter, Jeannine, who was eleven at the time of her mother’s murder and who clung to her father’s innocence, even committing perjury during his trial. Rigorously researched, and based on dozens of interviews with family, friends, and co-workers, Murder by Milkshake documents the sensational case that kept Vancouver spellbound, while providing a snapshot of the city’s Mad Men-esque social and political realities in the 1960s.


Eve Lazarus

Eve Lazarus is a reporter, author, and the host and producer of the true crime podcast Cold Case Canada. She is the author of four Arsenal titles: Cold Case Vancouver: The City’s Most Baffling Unsolved Murders (2015), a BC bestseller and 2016 finalist for the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award at the BC Book Prizes; Blood, Sweat, and Fear: The Story of Inspector Vance, Vancouver’s First Forensic Investigator (2017); Murder by Milkshake: An Astonishing True Story of Adultery, Arsenic, and a Charismatic Killer (2018); and Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History (2020). She is also the author of Sensational Vancouver (2014), , Sensational Victoria: Bright Lights, Red Lights, Murders, Ghosts & Gardens (2012), and her book At Home with History: The Untold Secrets of Greater Vancouver’s Heritage Houses was a 2008 City of Vancouver book award finalist.


Eve Lazarus has written a chilling and highly readable story full of fascinating characters. Well done. -Dr. Heather Burke, forensic psychologist
Not only a compelling insight into the methodical detective work of a 1960s homicide investigation but also a revealing exposé of one of the most high-profile crimes in Vancouver history. -Superintendent Mike Porteous, Vancouver Police Department
Deeply researched, Eve Lazarus has done everything short of getting up on top of the BowMac sign herself to get to the heart of the story behind the notorious Rene Castellani, whose crime is still one of the most unbelievable, strange, and remarkable chapters in Vancouver crime history. This isn’t a murder mystery story in the traditional sense; Lazarus reveals a greater mystery about the motivations and actions of a criminal, how deeply the crime affected the innocent around him, the legacy of which plays out to this day. -Aaron Chapman, author of The Last Gang in Town and Liquor, Lust, and the Law
Eve Lazarus has done an exceptional job of reporting one of the most shocking and fascinating murder stories in Vancouver history. Her research is outstanding. -George Garrett, CKNW radio reporter (retired)


  • Vancouver Book Award 2019, Short-listed
  • Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Prize (BC Book Prizes) 2019, Short-listed
  • Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award 2019, Short-listed
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    248 Pages
    9.00in * 6.00in * .70in


    October 01, 2018


    Arsenal Pulp Press



    Book Subjects:

    TRUE CRIME / Murder / General

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