When I started writing my part for the Collector, 'GraveHeart', I had in mind this feeling of unease and foreboding and I immediately thought of Vancouver as a setting. This might seem odd because Vancouver is a bustling and beautiful city but from the very first moment I moved there it it also seemed to have a sinister edge. Vancouver, to me, is like the first scene in a horror movie where everyone is polite and beautiful but you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop--somewhere a monster is hidden and watching.
In my first few days I strayed accidentally a few blocks from the boutique downtown to the EastSide where hypodermics lay on the crack sidewalks and a palpable despair hangs over broken down hotels and stores. Beneath the cultural and natural wealth of Vancouver there is a world of illegal clubs, organised crime, and at the time I was there dozens of missing women. These victims were only just being recognised and counted and it was by journalists, not the police who seemed not very interested in fates of women whom they saw as addicts and sex workers whose disappearance was considered 'normal'. This event echoed into my story with the fate Keiran's missing mother. She left him when he was very young and no one seems to have bothered to ever track down exactly what happened to her, not even Keiran. But this missing woman was the hollow heart of his life. Despite his outward success and wealth Keiran is desperately unhappy.
I was living in Vancouver as people began to speculate: the killer was a trucker, the killer was a vacationing American (as Canadian presumably just do not do this sort of thing), the killer was... it should have been obvious for a long time who the killer was as one of his victims had in fact escaped his attack and tried to report the assault to police but no one had listened to her. The killer was Robert William Pickton and the reasons they body was never found was that Mr Pickton was a pig farmer. There was very little of the bodies left to find.
Mr Pickton was only ever charged with 26 murders and as far as I know has yet to be convicted even now. A lot of women who went missing in Vancouver were not his victims, they just drifted away from friends and family and died namelessly of drugs, illness or at the hands of some other, less prolific killer. The trial dragged over many years and residents main response was that it should be reported less often and with less detail. Even now, nobody wanted to hear the stories of these women, not so much missing as lost and discarded.
The victims, nobody knows exactly how many beyond those whose fragments of bone were sifted from the soil of the 17 acre pig farm, each left a hole in some one's life. Those broadsheet pages totally filled with snapshots of women whose fates were unknown will always be connected to the bright and glistening mountains and coloured skyscrapers of Vancouver. And GraveHeart gives some small voice to the void left by a lost love ones and the healing role of learning the truth and finding love, in living on.
Excerpt: "He stood from the workstation and walked across his open-plan apartment to stand before the window that took up most of one wall. A few low buildings obscured a calming view of the ocean, but he could feel the sullen buzz of the city behind him. Vancouver city, it was the perfect place for a man who specialized in delving below the polite surface into the seedy underbelly of business, and occasionally personal, affairs. A city that thrived upon a sparkling image of nature at its most beautiful and architecture at its most ugly, where courtesy was as ubiquitous as deceit."
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Next stop #9
Question: What animal did Robert Pickton farm?