Born in Regina in 1937, Bill Deverell of Pender Island is a former criminal lawyer and former president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. He started practicing law in B.C. in 1964 and was a prosecutor or defender for one thousand trials, including thirty murder trials.

Bill Deverell's excellent non-fiction book, Fatal Cruise (1990), recalls his defence of the gentlemanly alcoholic Robert Frisbee, convicted of the brutal penthouse slaying of his 89-year-old employer, Muriel Barnett, on an Alaska cruise ship.

Mindfield (1989) probes the CIA-financed brainwashing experiments involving LSD in Montreal's Allan Memorial Institute. Montreal cop Kellen O'Reilly, a former victim of Dr. Satorias ("the Mengele of the mind"), must dredge up her past as she dredges up a series of linked murders.

Deverell is now most widely known for writing the pilot episode for, and also co-creating, the CBC-TV series Street Legal that was based on his novel, Street Legal: The Betrayal (1995), featuring young Toronto lawyers in the offices of Robinovitch, Barr, Barr, Tchobanian. The syndicated series ran in Canada from 1986 to 1994. It has aired in more than 50 countries. According to publicity materials, Deverell's books have been translated into fourteen languages and have sold over one million copies worldwide. Deverell's thrillers, some of which are indirectly based on his cases, include Needles (1979), for which he won the first Seal Book Award, High Crimes (1981), Mecca (1983), The Dance of Shiva (1984) and Platinum Blues (1987), about the music industry, and Whipped (2017).

Not to be confused with the Michael Douglas movie Romancing the Stone, The Laughing Falcon (2001) is a light-hearted romp through the jungles of Costa Rica featuring a burned-out eco-neurotic kayak guide who seeks to rescue a Saskatoon romance writer from a fumble-footed gang of left-wing kidnappers, sending up the genres of thriller and romance.

Mind Games (2003) is about a Vancouver forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Tim Dare, whose marriage and career are disintegrating so he visits a fellow psychiatrist for guidance--while someone is trying to kill him.

In the wake of the Liam Donnelly/Rachel Marsden SFU harrassment case, Trial of Passion (1997) follows the fate of Jonathan O'Donnell, the acting Dean of Law at UBC, who is charged with raping one of his students. Trial of Passion won the 1998 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel as well as the Hammett Prize.

First introduced in Bill Deverell's The Dance of Shiva, crafty defense lawyer, Arthur Beauchamp reappears in Bill Deverell's 14th title, April Fool (M&S $36.99), selected for the 2006 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel. While his new wife decides to live atop a tree in order to protect eagles from loggers, Beauchamp is again retrieved from retirement from fictional Garibaldi Island to defend a notorious jewel thief on murder and rape charges. This courtroom thriller opens: "With envy, Arthur Beauchamp watches juncos mating in the raspberry patch. A bumblebee tests a daffodil. There is lust in his garden, spring's vitality. Maybe his sap will start flowing again too, and the lazy lout below will rise from flaccid hibernation. The desire is there, but the equipment faulty. When was his last erection - a month ago? A half-hearted attempt at takeoff. But he knows he must accept and move on. We age, faculties rust. Some men lose their hair. In compensation, Arthur has kept his, a thick grey thatch."

In Deverell's novel Snow Job (M&S 2009), "Arthur Beauchamp has followed his wife, the leader and first elected member of the Green Party, to Ottawa. But he hates it there: the cold, the politics, and his place in his wife's shadow. So when a delegation of government officials from Bhashyistan is blown sky high on Bronson Avenue and the shares of a Calgary-based oil company promptly drop like a stone, Arthur is only too happy to jump to the defence of the missing suspected assassin."

In the sixth crime novel in William Deverell's series featuring defense lawyer Arthur Beauchamp, Sing a Worried Song (ECW Press, 2015), we revisit the one time in Beauchamp's career when he restlessly decided to switch sides and serve as a prosecutor. When a young man was charged with murdering a clown, Beauchamp was confident he could prove Randolph Skyler was guilty. Meanwhile his own personal life was coming apart... Beauchamp cannot forget this case, not even years later when he's happily remarried and retired to Garibaldi Island on the West Coast. The past comes back to bite him, with a vengeance.

In Whipped (2017), Beauchamp comes out of retirement to represent the woman he loves while he worries she could be embroiled in an affair. The story involves a Montreal journalist under the witness protection program, the Mafia, a Russian dominatrix, a high-ranking federal cabinet minister and a Green Party leader named Margaret Blake.

Stung (2021) sees Beauchamp defending seven environmentalists accused of sabotaging an Ontario plant that pumps out a pesticide linked to the mass death of honeybees. The story zigzags between Toronto, where the trial takes place, and Arthur's West Coast island home, where he finds himself arrested for fighting his own environmental cause: the threatened destruction of a popular park. The Toronto trial concludes with a hang-by-the-fingernails jury verdict.

In 1994-1995 Deverell served as Chair of the Writers Union of Canada. He is the recipient of the Arthur Ellis Award and the Dashiell Hammett Prize. He has also resided near Quepos in Costa Rica.


Stung: An Arthur Beauchamp Novel (ECW, 2021) $32.95 hc 978-1-77041-595-9
Kill All the Lawyers: A Mystery (ECW, 2020) $19.95 978-1-77041-996-4
Whipped: An Arthur Beauchamp Novel (ECW Press, 2017) $28.95 978-1-77041-390-0; paperback 2019.
Sing a Worried Song (ECW Press, 2015) $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-77041-245-3
Snow Job (McClelland & Stewart, 2009)
April Fool (McClelland & Stewart, 2005) 0-7710-2711-7; re-issued 2017 $17.95 978-1-77041-408-2
Mind Games (McClelland & Stewart, 2003)
The Laughing Falcon (McClelland & Stewart, 2001)
Kill All the Lawyers (Toronto: Seal Books, 2001)
Slander (McClelland & Stewart, 1999)
Trial of Passion (McClelland & Stewart, 1997)
Street Legal - The Betrayal (McClelland & Stewart, 1995)
Fatal Cruise - The Trial of Robert Frisbee (McClelland & Stewart, 1990). Also entitled A Life on Trial.
Mindfield (McClelland & Stewart, 1989)
Platinum Blues (McClelland & Stewart, 1987)
The Dance of Shiva (McClelland & Stewart, 1984)
Mecca (McClelland & Stewart, 1983)
High Crimes (McClelland & Stewart, 1981)
Needles (McClelland & Stewart, 1979)

[BCBW 2019]