Saturday 18 January 2020

Book ~ "The Billionaire Murders: The Mysterious Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman" (2019) Kevin Donovan

From Goodreads ~ Billionaires, philanthropists, socialites ... victims. Barry and Honey Sherman appeared to lead charmed lives. But the world was shocked in late 2017 when their bodies were found in a bizarre tableau in their elegant Toronto home. First described as murder-suicide - belts looped around their necks, they were found seated beside their basement swimming pool - police later ruled it a staged, targeted double murder. Nothing about the case made sense to friends of the founder of one of the world's largest generic pharmaceutical firms and his wife, a powerhouse in Canada's charity world. Together, their wealth has been estimated at well over $4.7 billion.

There was another side to the story. A strategic genius who built a large generic drug company - Apotex Inc. - Barry Sherman was a self-described workaholic, renowned risk-taker and disruptor during his fifty-year career. Regarded as a generous friend by many, Sherman was also feared by others. He was criticized for stifling academic freedom and using the courts to win at all costs. Upset with building issues at his mansion, he sued and recouped millions from tradespeople. At the time of his death, Sherman had just won a decades-old legal case involving four cousins who wanted 20 percent of his fortune.

Toronto Star investigative journalist Kevin Donovan chronicles the unsettling story from the beginning, interviewing family members, friends, and colleagues, and sheds new light on the Shermans' lives and the disturbing double murder. Deeply researched and authoritative, The Billionaire Murders is a compulsively readable tale of a strange and perplexing crime.

Barry Sherman was a 75-year-old Canadian businessman and philanthropist who was chairman and CEO of Apotex Inc., a Canadian pharmaceutical corporation.  At his death in 2017, according to Forbes, he was the 12th wealthiest Canadian and according Canadian Business, he was the 15th richest in Canada.

In December 2017, Barry and his wife, Honey, were found dead on the floor next to their indoor pool in their Toronto home.  Both of their necks were tied with leather belts to a metal railing slightly over a metre high around the pool.  Barry was seated, his legs crossed, on the pool deck and Honey was on her side with a bruise on her face.  Coats pulled down over their shoulders restraining their arms.  They were facing away from the water and fully clothed.

The initial headlines read that it was a murder-suicide ... that Barry had killed Honey and then himself.  Friends and family said "no way" and it's now being investigated as a double murder.  Because of what was perceived by the family as police incompetence, the four children of Barry and Holly put together their own team of investigators to find out what happened.  As of the writing of the book and today, no one has been arrested for their murders.

Kevin Donovan is a Toronto Star's Chief Investigative Reporter who has been following the story and writing about it in the Toronto Star.  It's obvious that he has done a lot of research and reveals information from various sources and interview's he's done.  He includes the backgrounds of all those involved (the Shermans, friends, colleagues, etc.) and educates us on the pharmaceutical industry.

While I found the book interesting and informative, it reads like a long long newspaper article, which makes sense, I guess, since the author is a newspaper reporter.  The book could have been edited better.  There is a lot of repetition ... the same people are throughout the book yet we get introduced to them pretty well every time like it's the first time we're meeting them.  Yep, I remember who Jonathon Sherman is ... I didn't need to be told about ten times that he was the oldest son.  There were some weird not necessary descriptions of people.  For example, when letting us know that Elise Stern, a real estate agent, was at the Shermans' home the morning of the discovery of the bodies, she is described as "Dark-haired, with a thin, angular face" ... what does that have to do with anything?!  There were some typos ... one glaring one was getting Honey's maiden name wrong (it's "Reich" not "Rich").

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