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Biography & Autobiography General

The Massey Murder

A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country

by (author) Charlotte Gray

HarperCollins Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2013
General, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Oct 2013
    List Price
    $24.99 USD

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A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of the Year

An Amazon Top 100 Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize

Longlisted for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

A scandalous crime, a sensational trial, a surprise verdict—the true story of Carrie Davies, the maid who shot a Massey

In February 1915, a member of one of Canada’s wealthiest families was shot and killed on the front porch of his home in Toronto as he was returning from work. Carrie Davies, an 18-year-old domestic servant, quickly confessed. But who was the victim here? Charles “Bert” Massey, a scion of a famous family, or the frightened, perhaps mentally unstable Carrie, a penniless British immigrant? When the brilliant lawyer Hartley Dewart, QC, took on her case, his grudge against the powerful Masseys would fuel a dramatic trial that pitted the old order against the new, wealth and privilege against virtue and honest hard work. Set against a backdrop of the Great War in Europe and the changing face of a nation, this sensational crime is brought to vivid life for the first time.

As in her previous bestselling book, Gold Diggers—which was made into a Discovery Channel miniseries entitled “Klondike”—multi-award-winning historian and biographer Charlotte Gray has created a captivating narrative rich in detail and brimming with larger-than-life personalities, as she shines a light on a central moment in our past.

About the author

Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known writers, and author of ten acclaimed books of literary non-fiction. Gray’s most recent bestseller is The Promise of Canada: People And Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country. Her previous book,  The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and The Trial that Shocked a Country, was also a bestseller and won the Toronto Book Award, the Heritage Toronto Book Award, the Canadian Authors Association Lela Common Award for Canadian History and the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book. It was shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize, the Ottawa Book Award for Non-Fiction and the Evergreen Award and was long-listed for the B.C. National Book Award for Non-Fiction. An adaptation of her bestseller Gold Diggers, Striking It Rich in the Klondike was broadcast as a television miniseries in early 2014 on the US Discovery Channel, under the title Klondike.

An Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of History at Carleton University, Charlotte is the Recipient of the Pierre Berton Award for distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history. She has chaired the boards of both Canada’s National History Society and the Art Canada Institute, has served on the boards of PEN Canada and the Ottawa International Writers Festival. She has frequently served on Writers Trust committees, as well as being a juror for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the RBC Taylor Prize, the City of Ottawa Book Prize, several CBC awards and the Kobzar Literary Award. Charlotte is a member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Charlotte Gray's profile page


  • Unknown, OLA Evergreen Award
  • Unknown, Toronto Book Award
  • Unknown, CAA Lela Common Award for Canadian History
  • Unknown, RBC Taylor Prize
  • Unknown, Heritage Toronto Book Award
  • Unknown, British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction
  • Unknown, CBA Libris Award for Non-Fiction
  • Unknown, Ottawa Book Award for English Non-Fiction
  • Unknown, Arthur Ellis Award for Non-fiction
  • Unknown, Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year

Editorial Reviews

“Canada’s pre-eminent historian. . . . A captivating read, balancing intense research with richly drawn characters and lively storytelling.” — Maclean’s

“Engaging. . . . Gray’s cast involves meticulously researched historical figures, whose behaviour she depicts with psychological insight. Narrated with a great sense of presence, irony, and verve, this book recreates a vanished world of Canadian jurisprudence and politics, invests it with life, and makes it memorable.” — The Globe and Mail

An engrossing chronicle of Toronto’s social life at the beginning of the 20th century.” — Toronto Star

“Gripping and insightful . . . . Gray has managed to resurrect a devilishly intriguing character.” — Quill & Quire

In The Massey Murder, Gray shows real kindness and compassion, bringing a sense of humanity to a once-lurid tale from the tabloids.” — Winnipeg Free Press

Other titles by Charlotte Gray