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Dead Reckoning

How I Came to Meet the Man Who Murdered My Father

by (author) Carys Cragg

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2017
General, Penology, Personal Memoirs
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2017
    List Price

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Finalist, Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction


A Globe 100 Best Book of the Year

Finalist, Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (BC Book Prizes)

When Carys Cragg was eleven, her father, a respected doctor, was brutally murdered in his own home by an intruder. Twenty years later, and despite the reservations of her family and friends, she decides to contact his murderer in prison, and the two correspond for a period of two years. She learns of his horrific childhood, and the reasons he lied about the murder; in turn, he learns about the man he killed. She mines his letters for clues about the past before agreeing to meet him in person, when she learns startling new information about the crime.

With gripping suspense and raw honesty, Dead Reckoning follows one woman's determination to confront the man who murdered her father, revealing her need for understanding and the murderer's reluctance to tell--an uneasy negotiation between two people from different worlds both undone by tragedy. This is a powerful and emotional memoir about how reconciling with the past doesn't necessarily provide comfort, but it can reveal the truth.

About the author

Carys Cragg is an instructor in Child, Family & Community Studies at Douglas College. Her personal essays and reviews have appeared in such venues as The Globe & Mail and The Tyee. She is a graduate of the Writer's Studio at Simon Fraser University. Her debut book Dead Reckoning: How I Came to Meet the Man Who Murdered My Father was shortlisted for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize at the BC Book Prizes in 2018. She lives in Vancouver.

Carys Cragg's profile page


  • Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Award
  • Short-listed, Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (BC Book Prizes)

Editorial Reviews

An extremely powerful story for the public to have access to, and one that smashes society's assumptions about both victim and perpetrator. -Toronto Star

What strikes me most poignantly in Carys Cragg's Dead Reckoning is that she is motivated by her needs, fired up by her wants. Her integrity is expressed by her vibrant tenacity to share in dialogue with the offender, the man who took her father's life. Her clarity of expression is boundless. I celebrate her spirit. -Margot Van Sluytman, advocate and justice advisor

A work of staggering grace -- a book that highlights the nature of restorative justice for perpatrators and victims alike. It is also testament to Cragg herself, whose fierce search for empathy allows her to travese a seemingly impossible divide. -Quill and Quire

Carys Cragg's father's murder was a tragedy, but the whole point of tragedy is that order is restored. In Dead Reckoning, she charts her tortured path from chaos to recovery with marvellous insight, determination and seering honesty. This is a book for anyone whose life has been torn apart, seeking to put the pieces back together. -Wayne Grady, author of Emancipation Day

With remarkable candour and extraordinary insight Carys Cragg's memoir examines central elements of transformative justice - truth, responsibility and punishment. Healing becomes not reconciliation but compromise, as Cragg's story shifts from the narration of her father's murder as a moment of horror and devastation to a journey of surrender, acceptance, and even forgiveness. -Marina Cantacuzino, Founder, The Forgiveness Project

Carys Cragg writes with intensity and vulnerability, building suspense against a backdrop of her own self-examination and her critique of the systems she encounters, whether familial or societal. As both a professional in the formal justice system and a restorative justice practitioner, I would recommend this book to anyone involved in or seeking greater understanding of either field. -Douglas Hillian, Vancouver Island Youth Justice Director, BC Ministry of Children and Family Development

Cragg's own tenacity, integrity, and wisdom, shine through in this book, offering a testament to the revolutionary power of a life well lived. Reading this memoir left me feeling hopeful that a more just, caring, and relationally responsible world is within our collective reach. -Dr. Jennifer White, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria

Dead Reckoning is one of those books that will remain on my mind for a very, very long time. I applaud Carys Cragg's personal journey, and the graceful and highly articulate writing she employs to share her journey with readers. -Amber Dawn, author of Sub Rosa and How Poetry Saved My Life

Dead Reckoning asks important questions: about what justice means, how we can repair harm and what society asks of the victims, as well as the perpetrators, of the most heinous crimes. -The Globe and Mail

What a brave, informative and deeply moving book this is. Carys Cragg takes us on her journey to get to know her father's killer and to understand the man and the moment that changed her life forever. From the girl that she was to the advocate for at-risk youth that she has become, Cragg's life and work give her a unique and powerful insight into crime's preventable causes and its devastating aftermath. Sonja Larsen, author of Red Star Tattoo

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