Blood in the Water
November 21, 2021

Book Review

Blood in the Water

reviewed by Eric Ellis

Should a true crime recounting of a murder ever be “enjoyable?” And if so, how can one aptly describe an experience as pleasurable when it involves death?

This is the Catch-22 when it comes to books like Silver Donald Cameron’s Blood in the Water. Like the true-crime book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, Blood in the Water is filled with a collection of amusing people and circumstances in such a way that the recounting of a murder and the subsequent trial is both compelling and amusing at times.

Blood in the Water is similar to watching a short video clip of a person’s mishap that at first appears to be innocently humorous until the realization that the mishap was actually pretty serious.

Another way to describe Cameron’s book would be to imagine a blending of Berendt’s book, the historical background of Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, with the quirkiness of the Netflix documentary The Legend of Cocaine Island.

In June of 2013, three Acadian fishermen of Petit de Grat, Isle Madame, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, fed up with the habitual and decades-long criminality of Philip Boudreau, decide it is time to take matters into their own hands and end up killing Boudreau while he is vandalizing their lobster cages.

Through descriptions, Boudreau is almost able to be imagined as a real-life gadfly and troublemaker similar to the fictional character Ernest T. Bass from the classic television series The Andy Griffith Show, but only in a more serious and dangerous way. For decades, Boudreau was not only known for minor acts of misbehavior, but much more serious ones such as threatening to burn down the homes of people if they complained, which also included threats to law enforcement personnel if they took action against his acts of criminality.

Boudreau also bore a duality of either being liked and tolerated or intensely despised for his behavior.  

In dealing with not only the murder and subsequent trial, like Keefe’s Say Nothing, Cameron provides an in-depth, but accessible history of the Acadian people of the region and of their culture. For example, unlike the legal system of the United States being largely guided by legal precedents and original foundations, the legal system of this region has been allowed to modify by accepting how the changes in culture and society are dynamic and ever-changing, and such evolution should be taken into account in legal matters.

Cameron’s examination of Acadian society allows the reader to fully grasp the uniqueness of the region and its citizens, which adds to the complexity of how difficult it was to curtail Boudreau’s behavior, especially when people were worried about their homes being burnt to the ground with them in them. Acadians are very community-oriented, forgiving, and with a practice of helping neighbors in need while in a community where doors are not locked at night or when people are not in their homes.

Blood in The Water is recommended to fans of true crime novels with legal matters and well researched backgrounds.

Netgalley provided a copy of Blood in the Water with the promise of a fair review.

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