This book was written by Brian and his friend Alison Townsend. It is the story of a hog-farming family, the Townsends, living in the Kootenays in British Columbia, Canada in the late 1950's and later years. The story describes the hard life for the farmer who has to work at a nearby mine and smelter in order to support his farm work. The story is a fictionalized description based on the actual events that occurred. Of course, the conversations, thoughts expressed and activities are the product of the authors' imaginations. The fact that the events are still so clearly remembered fifty years later is significant, indicating the depth to which the events affected the family.
Family day to day life is described. The need for hired help is satisfied when a young man answers their advertisement. He joins the family, works hard, learns the ropes of hog farming and butchering. The hired man, called Hudulak in the story, has a number of problems related to his limited intelligence, his sexual desires and his drinking to excess on the few occasions he goes out on the town. These problems are not noted especially by the Townsend family, although the eight year old daughter Emily is unhappy with the way he leers at her. Hudulak goes on a drinking binge with a neighbor and ends up in Mrs. Townsend's bedroom in the middle of the night. Mr. Townsend is working the night shift. Unfortunately, the confrontation in the bedroom leads to the death of both Mrs. Townsend and Emily, the eight year old. Hudulak cleans up a little and drives away in the family car. Although he is caught within a few hours, he is able to convince the authorities that he is insane and his only punishment is a life of leisure in a mental hospital for 18 years. Eventually, he is given a complete release, marries and lives a normal life.
In the meantime, life goes on for the remnants of the Townsend family. The effect of this crime on the family is described, and the frustration felt by the family members by the ineffective way in which the crimes were handled is lamented. The Townsends believe that the Canadian Justice system failed and believe that Hudulak simply fooled all the authorities. Based on a true story, the authors get inside the minds of the characters, describing the thoughts and feelings of a murderer and his victims.
Although the insanity defence is still in vogue today, the Townsends believe that today's psychiatrists and prosecutors would not be quite so lenient as they were in the 1960's in a remote area in the interior of B.C. Interestingly, in 2012, a mental patient in Quebec who killed his children and was found not guilty by reason of insanity was given a full discharge after only two years of treatment. This story shines some light on the impact these crimes have on the victims.