Cold Case North: The Search for James Brady and Absolom Halkett

By Michael Nest, Deanna Reder, and Eric Bell

Tells the story of the unsolved murder of indigenous activists, police investigation misconduct, and the community who tracked down the clues which officials failed to uncover.

Missing persons. Double murder? Métis leader James Brady was one of the most famous Indigenous activists in Canada. A communist, strategist, and bibliophile, he led Métis and First Nations to rebel against government and church oppression. Brady’s success made politicians and clergy fear him; he had enemies everywhere. In 1967, while prospecting in Saskatchewan with Cree Band Councillor and fellow activist, Absolom Halkett, both men vanished from their remote lakeside camp. For 50 years rumours swirled of secret mining interests, political intrigue, and murder. Cold Case North is the story of how a small team, with the help of the Indigenous community, exposed police failure in the original investigation, discovered new clues and testimony, and gathered the pieces of the North’s most enduring missing persons puzzle.

My thoughts: These three writers did an amazing job of researching and writing about the pair of well-educated indigenous activists who went missing so suddenly and strangely back in the late 1960s. The two had been dropped off by plane to do some prospecting, and the fairly new pilot accidentally dropped them off in the wrong location, where their maps would be no good. He later realized his mistake and reported it, to no avail. The two men were already missing and being looked for. Was it really an accident? Did they wander off and get lost, or were they injured by a wild animal? Or was it murder. Join this quest looking for the answers. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors, and the publisher.

Publisher: University of Regina Press – 272 pages
Publication: Nov 7th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars

About the Author:
Michael Nest is the award-winning author of three non-fiction books. Corruption, mining and conflict are the theme of the first two. The third, Still a Pygmy, is a collaboration with Congolese activist Isaac Bacirongo, the first Indigenous Pygmy to ever publish his memoir. Michael’s ‘day job’ is preventing corruption in government and in the mining sector. He lives in Montréal.

Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis), Associate Professor in the Departments of English and First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University, teaches Indigenous literatures, especially autobiography. Her SSHRC-funded research project, “The People and the Text” makes extensive use of library and archival methods, in collaboration with Indigenous research networks, to uncover forgotten or lost work by Canadian Indigenous authors. She has worked collaboratively to edit four anthologies and is the series editor of the Indigenous Studies Series for Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Eric Bell is a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. He has owned and operated La Ronge Emergency Medical Services for 25 years and was a Park Warden for 23 years with Parks Canada. His involvement in this search is personal as he remembers Jim Brady, who was a friend of the family, and Abbie Halkett, a fellow community member. Eric lives in La Ronge, SK.

4 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW ~ Cold Case North

  1. Gah, I love your book reviews!
    Curious question! How long does it take you to finish one? I’m short of a slow reader and depending on my schedule, it could take me a year to finish one.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Mr. A! Normally I could inhale a book like this in a couple of evenings, or one long night on a super good one. But ever since I got this severe sleep apnea (central kind, not obstructive), I’ve been struggling with my reading, just to stay awake. Add to that cataracts and the start of macular degeneration, and well you get the picture. I just love to read, and it keeps me sane being stuck home all the time. So I’ll keep at it, and I hope you do too, as the more you do it the better you get at it Thanks for the comment!


  3. I’m always looking for books, despite my having a mile high TBR pile already. But I’m always curious about what is coming out in my favorite genres like True Crime, and Biographies, History, etc. I have a few places I get books ahead of publishing and I keep those read first and on time. The others I fit in between when I have room to squeeze it in. Have fun with your hunt!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.