Watching the Devil Dance
Authored by Will Toffan
I received this book to review not too long ago. I always have an extensive reading list so it takes time to get through everything. This was a lucky break for me. Not only is this a book about true crime, which you all know is right up my alley, but it is also a fairly short book. But don’t let that fool you. While the number of actual pages makes it a quick read, the content makes for an even faster reading experience.
The book is about a man named Mathew Charles Lamb; a spree killer active in Canada in the late 1960s. But in this recounting of those horrific events the author also exposes, clarifies and addresses the weaknesses, pitfalls and shortcomings of the criminal justice system in Canada at the time. It tells of the crimes themselves, the killer including his life leading up to the killings and what happened afterwards.
The amount of detail that is in this book is amazing. With very specific interviews of all kinds of people, from witnesses to detectives to friends and family, this author really shines a light on what is certainly a very dark moment in the country’s history. He makes it known in no uncertain terms that there were obvious failures in the treatment and containment of such a violent and callous spree killer. He explains how this murderer caught practically ever break and benefited from every loophole possible making this an excellent example of how many people know when, where and how to work and exploit their justice system and their penal system.
The fact that this killer was able to slip through the cracks of the justice system and then the penal system, ending up in the mental health care penal system, is truly baffling from one aspect. On the other hand, it is easier to understand how this happened as you read this book because Toffan fully explains what the mindset was at the time of these killings. Understandably, at that time the terms spree killer and serial killer hadn’t even been coined yet. People not only weren’t familiar with such offenders; they had a very difficult time wrapping their minds around the idea that someone would do something so vicious and heinous.
The content of this book is well researched, well written and very easy to follow as it has an extremely natural and logical flow to the information. The information contained within the text is beyond interesting as it ultimately captivates the reader from the very beginning. With spectacular insight Toffan details the horrible tragedy of Lamb’s shooting spree, submerging the reader in that era and putting them right in the middle of the story. Toffan also gives us a very generous amount of background on Lamb which is essential in understanding the mind of a killer. Oftentimes, authors will only give a short summary of the life of the killer prior to their crimes or only detail the short time before the events actually take place.
This is one of the most complete true crime accountings I have ever read. I can definitely say that I not only learned a great deal about a killer I had not heard about but I also found this book so interesting that I read it in four nights. If I had read during the day, I would have finished it in probably two days. It was that good. I can safely recommend this to any true crime buff. This is a must read for crime story lovers.