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Biography & Autobiography Criminals & Outlaws

The Big Red Fox

The Incredible Story of Norman "Red" Ryan, Canada's Most Notorious Criminal

by (author) Peter McSherry

Publisher
Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Sep 1999
Category
Criminals & Outlaws, Sentencing, Criminal Procedure
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9781550023244
    Publish Date
    Sep 1999
    List Price
    $22.99
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9781554880966
    Publish Date
    Sep 1999
    List Price
    $8.99

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Description

Short-listed for the 2000 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction
Norman "Red" Ryan was a notorious bank robber, safecracker, and killer. He escaped from Kingston Penitentiary twice - first by force, and then years later by gulling the credulous into believing that he was "reformed." The dupes of Ryan’s second emancipation included the prison’s Roman Catholic chaplain, several nationally prominent citizens, the country’s largest newspaper, and, ultimately, R.B. Bennett, the prime minister of Canada, who made the mistake of arranging a "political parole" for Ryan.
Six people - three of them innocent victims - died as a result of Red Ryan’s freedom. Dubbed "the Jesse James of Canada" and "Canada’s most notorious criminal," Ryan had compiled a record of nineteen convictions for crimes of theft and violence, and had been in nine shooting affrays with police and citizens. He was a "lifer" in an era when "life" meant just that. Yet he got out of Kingston after just eleven and a half years and returned to Toronto, the city of his birth, amid fanfare befitting a national hero. His death in a liquor store robbery in Sarnia on May 23, 1936, just ten months after his release, was a huge jolt to Canada, and especially Toronto.
How could such an obvious threat to society be paroled from prison as a paragon of reform? This question is central to The Big Red Fox. The answer lies not with Ryan himself - not even the cunning and deceitful Red Ryan could have hoodwinked his way out of a life sentence - but with those who helped him, and who benefited from his release.

About the author

Peter McSherry has worked as a high school teacher, a truck driver, a labourer, and a freelance writer, but mostly he's been a taxi driver - and that's how he wants to be known. His first book, The Big Red Fox, about notorious criminal Norman Ryan, was an amazingly detailed work of history.

Peter McSherry's profile page

Awards

  • Short-listed, Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction

Editorial Reviews

... a valuable addition to the annals of true crime.

The Toronto Star

Other titles by Peter McSherry

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