Helen C. Escott continues her one-woman crime spree in the literary world with the release of Operation Vanished: A fictional investigation into missing and murdered females in the 1950s and why the cases were never solved.
In the 1950s, three young women in rural Newfoundland were sexually assaulted, beaten and murdered. Their killers were never caught. During the same time period an eight-year-old girl disappeared. Her body was never found.
In 2018, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Major Crime Unit executed Operation Vanished, a special task force whose duty was to solve the historical murders of these women and the missing child.
RCMP Corporal Gail McNaughton has just transferred into the Major Crime Unit. As its newest investigator, she is given a stack of missing and murder files dating back to the 1950s. These crimes prove to be a challenge to investigate as most of the witnesses have died or have aged, memories have faded, scenes were not secured to today’s standards, and DNA testing was not available at the time.
Corporal McNaughton befriends Larry Morgan, an expert on Newfoundland and Labrador history who is also the son of one of the murdered women. Together they put together a list of suspects and begin to dig up ghosts from the past. The investigation is hampered by the local belief in fairy culture and McNaughton’s own PTSD as she delves further into the details. She discovers that the files may be linked and sets out to prove her theory that a serial killer had been operating in rural Newfoundland and Labrador when these crimes were committed.
Escott says, “My main character, Cpl. Gail McNaughton was named after two of the most dedicated and honourable police officers I know: RCMP Staff Sergeant Gail Courtney and Inspector Chris McNaughton. These extraordinary women put their shoulder to the glass ceiling and shattered it for the rest of us. They rose through the ranks while becoming two of the best investigators I have ever worked with. I am extremely proud to call them my friends.”
While doing the research for this book, Escott says she reached out to several RCMP members who she had the honour of working with. “They were always extremely helpful with facts and details. We are so lucky to have two of the greatest police forces in the world right here in Newfoundland and Labrador; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. They are dedicated officers and civilians who do their best everyday.”
Matthew LeDrew, a Newfoundland and Labrador bestselling author of several novels and the owner of Engen Books says, “Operation Vanished is the epitome of what an author can achieve with the knowledge and skill to back up their work. Expertly plotted and perfectly executed, Operation Vanished is the missing-persons thriller to end all missing-persons thrillers and a massive achievement for author Helen Escott.”
“To put this in perspective,” Escott says, “In 1929, the Supreme Court of Canada finally ruled that women were ‘persons’ under the law. My mother was born in 1927 and for the first two years of her life she wasn’t considered a person.”
She says she wrote this book to shine a spotlight on missing children and women and says, “No matter what year they went missing, they should never be forgotten. Thank you to the women who protested in the streets, made phone calls to elected officials, and who fought for the rights of every women who came after them. It is because of you that myself and my daughter are now considered ‘persons’ under the law.”
Helen C. Escott’s first novel, Operation Wormwood, was a top five finalist for the 2019 Arthur Ellis Awards, Best First Crime Novel, by the Crime Writers of Canada. Both Operation Vanished and Operation Wormwood, published by Flanker Press, are available at: Costco, Chapters, and Coles. Also, online at indigo.ca Apple – itunes, Nook – (Barnes & Noble), Amazon, and Kobo. National and international orders can be placed by calling 1-866-739-4420 ext. #22 or you can send e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.