376 pages. CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group. Reviewed by Christine Hearn.

Kim Rossmo (MA’87, PhD’96) takes a serious but fascinating look at some of the reasons why police work doesn’t always succeed. The reasons fall into three broad categories: cognitive biases, including perception, intuition, and tunnel vision; organizational traps, including groupthink, rumour, and ego; and errors in probability, including chance and randomness in forensics and profiling.

The cases used as illustrations of Rossmo’s thesis range from well-known miscarriages of justice (David Milgaard, Donald Marshall, and Guy Paul Morin) to investigations that didn’t begin early enough (the murders of women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside), to unsolved cases (most particularly the haunting murder of Theresa Allore in the Eastern Townships of Quebec in 1978).

The book concludes with specific recommendations to help police departments avoid some of the investigative pitfalls Rossmo has identified, thus minimizing the chance of wrongful conviction and improving detective work.

Rossmo holds the University Endowed Chair in Criminology and is the director of the Centre for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation in the Department of Criminal Justice at Texas State University. He is also an adjunct professor at SFU. Contributors to the book include Neil Boyd, SFU criminology professor, and Doug A. LePard (BA’01), deputy chief constable commanding the investigative division of the Vancouver Police Department.

Scots Wha Hae

Best-selling author Jack Whyte who taught in the Writing and Publishing Program is returning to his roots with his new trilogy, Guardians of Scotland. The series will deal with William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Sir James (The Black) Douglas. The last book in his Templar trilogy, Order in Chaos, comes out in July.

Addiction’s Toll

Unregulated capitalism is spawning a rising tide of people addicted to compulsive shopping, gambling, compulsive sexual behaviours, and video gaming. And this unfolds before the economic meltdown. Psychology professor emeritus Bruce Alexander argues in The Globalisation of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit that economic stressors exacerbate the relentless competition and self-seeking that already stress people in less troubled times.

Major Recognition

The Clothes on Their Backs, by Linda Grant (who did PhD work in English in the late 1970s), is one of five books shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world. Inclusion on the list guarantees big sales and is a clear indicator that the book is one of the best works of fiction for the year. Grant previously won an Orange Prize for her novel When I Lived in Modern Times.


SFU Writer’s Studio participant Arleen Paré wins the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize for her novel Paper Trail. The story, written in prose and poetry, is also nominated for the Dorothy Livesay B.C. Book Prize for Poetry.


Daphne Bramham’s (MAL’99) The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada’s Polygamous Mormon Sect is shortlisted for the $40,000 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-fiction.

Norwegian Nostalgia

Kris Paulson, retired SFU English professor and his son Kai (BA’08) write and illustrate Folk Tales and Fish Stories, a beautiful look at their Norwegian heritage. This is the first book by the father-son duo; if we are lucky there will be more.

More Margaret

Margaret Sinclair Trudeau Kemper’s (BA’69) third memoir is due out in 2010. The book will focus on her struggles with bipolar disorder. Kemper earlier penned Beyond Reason in 1979 and Consequences in 1983.

Green, Green

James Glave’s (BA’91) Almost Green is getting raves both here and in the U.S. Excerpts are posted online in Salon, while O magazine and Fox News are fans. <>

The Philosopher Policeman

Jonathan M. Wender’s (PhD’04) Policing and the Poetics of Everyday Life looks at several issues central to criminological and sociological inquiry. Wender draws on philosopher Martin Heideger to argue that “praxis is poetry” where all social action is intrinsically meaningful.

Vanished Town

Former MBA participant Larry Jacobsen’s Jewel of the Kootenays: The Emerald Mine recounts the glory days of a mine and a town perched on a mountaintop in southeastern British Columbia. Under Jacobsen’s pen the miners and townspeople come to life, providing a fitting tribute to a town that was dismantled once the mine was no longer economic.

Short Stories

In the Quiet After Slaughter is the fiction debut of Vancouver journalist Don McLellan (BA’75). The related stories are set in an East Vancouver housing project for World War 11 veterans. The book is published by independent imprint libros libertad, established by former SFU student Emmanuel Aligizakis.

Photo Scan: courtesy Erik Tofsrud