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B.C. lawyer Dr. Gary Botting builds reputation as a novelist

published March 10, 2016

Well-known British Columbia extradition and dangerous offender lawyer Dr. Gary Botting is also gaining a reputation as a novelist. The author of some 40 books, including five published in the past year, he uses scenarios from real life, including his own cases, in establishing both plot and character.

Long known for his law books, in 2015 he published Canadian Extradition Law Practice, Fifth Edition (Markham: LexisNexis, 2015) and Halsbury’s Laws of Canada: Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance, 2015 Reissue (LexisNexis, 2015), in addition to the revised edition of his Collected Poems, edited by Tihemme Gagnon, and two novels.

His latest novel, Crazy Gran (Houston: Strategic, 2016) is set in upstate New York in the week following the attacks on the World Trade Centre (WTC). The protagonist, Amy Randall, knows that her mother warned members of her fanatic fundamentalist faith to get out of Manhattan before Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. They fled the city, but on the way north witnessed the attacks on the WTC on television while having breakfast at a diner north of Albany. Amy becomes suspicious when her uncle correctly predicts that Washington will be next.

The family, including Amy, are members of a hybrid fundamentalist cult called the Chrislamics, a cross between Jehovah’s Witnesses and Islam, who worship Allajah and who have revitalized Sharia and Levitican law. Before Amy can warn the authorities of her suspicions with respect to her mother’s insight or her uncle’s inside knowledge, she is branded an apostate and fornicratrix and is sentenced to be stoned to death.

Where fundamentalism is concerned, Botting knows whereof he speaks. Formerly a missionary and minister for Jehovah’s Witnesses, he is also the author of the bestselling expose of the sect, The Orwellian World of Jehovah’s Witnesses (University of Toronto Press). By contrast, his Fundamental Freedoms and Jehovah’s Witnesses (University of Calgary Press) is a legal analysis of the sect’s positive contributions to the establishment of civil liberties in Canada.

Regarding Crazy Gran, Robert Fletcher, CEO of Strategic Publishing, stated in a rare endorsement: “This timely book’s plot comes straight out of the headlines. We are thrilled to announce its release."

Amazon book reviewer Charles Asher described Crazy Gran as “a compelling and wholly original thriller.

“Author Gary Botting delves into the world of conspiracy and speculative fiction with such skill and versatility that the extraordinary plot comes to life, seeming, at times, dangerously real. The themes of twisted ideology, shadow agencies, and impending terror all speak to the world today, taking our current political climate, escalating the situation, and allowing a startlingly possible outcome to unfold before the reader’s very eyes.

“There is, as well, a complex ethics to Crazy Gran. Mr. Botting does not tell us what is right and wrong; rather, he shows us, demonstrating both the depths of wickedness and the heights of goodness in such a way as to instruct and inspire the reader without ever preaching. For fans of thrillers and the shadowy world of international intrigue, this is the book for you.”

Botting's novel, Campbell’s Kids (2015) is set in Canada, primarily in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A nun is rescued from a forest fire but has no idea how she got there or even why she was dressed in a habit. The RCMP and a journalist theorize that she is Maggie Campbell, the widow of a famous Canadian landscape artist.

She goes along with their theories — in part because Phil Campbell’s art is now worth a fortune. But logically, if she is indeed Maggie, then in her pre-amnesiac life she has committed horrific and unforgivable crimes, including incest, for which she must be held accountable. Indeed, as an arsonist she is housed as a forensic patient in a mental hospital from which she manages to escape with the help of the reporter.

In the second half of the book, she sets out to prove that the police and the reporter are wildly wrong in their theories about her identity. But in trying to deny one identity she must adopt another — that of “Emily.” This personality, while truer to her own self-concept, is even more sinister than Maggie. She is ultimately self-condemned, for if she is who she has come to believe she is, she is guilty not only of incest but serial murder.

Campbell’s Kids is ultimately about the evils of wrongful conviction,” says Botting, who is also the author of Wrongful Conviction in Canada (2010).

"My years as a criminal lawyer have given me insight into the criminal mind and how it works," he tells AdvocateDaily.