Is it possible to reach back in time and solve an unsolved murder, more than 170 years after it was committed?
Just after midnight on April 21, 1842, John McLoughlin Jr., the chief trader at Fort Stikine, was shot dead by his own men. The Hudson’s Bay Company had high expectations for this remote post on the Pacific Northwest coast, but within two years it had devolved into a cesspool of paranoia, violence, misrule, and revolt. The fort’s complement claimed the shooting was their only means of stopping McLoughlin’s drunken and abusive rampages, and HBC Governor George Simpson took them at their word. The case never saw the inside of a courtroom. McLoughlin was buried withotu ceremony, and the Company closed the book on his death.
Now Debra Komar uses archival research and modern forensic science, including ballistics, virtual autopsy, and crime scene reconstruction, to unlock the mystery of what really happened the night John McLoughlin died. The story of his murder provides a glimpse into the sometimes brutal reality of life in the Hudson’s Bay Company and the role it played in shaping the Canadian north.
“By laying out the facts and exploring them with relentless logic, Debra Komar does solve the mystery of who murdered John McLoughlin — or at least makes a completely convincing case. Not only that: she does so with panache.”– Literary Review of Canada
“Thoroughly researched and in dramatic, evocative prose, Komar gives McLoughlin and HBC the trial they so justly deserved.”– Globe and Mail
“Who knew the history of the North America fur trade could be so riveting? In the hands of former forensic anthropologist Debra Komar, readers will be spellbound as the author unravels an unsolved murder case occurring at a Hudson’s Bay Company post in 1842.”– Maple Tree Literary Supplement
“The Bastard of Fort Stikine
is a fine tale, and Komar has done a superb job in gathering the evidence and sorting out what happened the night McLoughlin was murdered.” —– Canada’s History
“This is what makes for a great history book for me: lots of supporting material, well presented with just enough narrative to make it cohesive and interesting to read.”– Miramichi Reader
“History buffs and armchair detectives are sure to enjoy this absorbing time-machine tale of murder, mayhem, intrigue, and justice denied.”
“A rollicking read and a fresh contribution to the literature of the fur trade — scholarship and skulduggery in the same fine package.”
“A fascinating biohistorical investigation by forensic anthropologist Debra Komar into one of Canada’s coldest cases, the mysterious killing of a Hudson’s Bay Company chief trader in 1842.”