The Massey Murder

The Massey Murder

A Maid, Her Master And The Trial That Shocked A Country

Book - 2013
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A Globe & Mail 100 Selection and longlisted for the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize!

A scandalous crime, a sensational trial, a surprise verdict--the true story of Carrie Davies, the maid who shot a Massey

In February 1915, a member of one of Canada's wealthiest families was shot and killed on the front porch of his home in Toronto as he was returning from work. Carrie Davies, an 18-year-old domestic servant, quickly confessed. But who was the victim here? Charles "Bert" Massey, a scion of a famous family, or the frightened, perhaps mentally unstable Carrie, a penniless British immigrant? When the brilliant lawyer Hartley Dewart, QC, took on her case, his grudge against the powerful Masseys would fuel a dramatic trial that pitted the old order against the new, wealth and privilege against virtue and honest hard work. Set against a backdrop of the Great War in Europe and the changing faceof a nation, this sensational crime is brought to vivid life for the first time.

As in her previous bestselling book, Gold Diggers--now in production as a Discovery Television miniseries--multi-award-winning historian and biographer Charlotte Gray has created a captivating narrative rich in detail and brimming with larger-than-life personalities, as she shines alight on a central moment in our past.

Publisher: Toronto, ON : HarperCollins Canada, c2013.
ISBN: 9781443409230
Characteristics: xix, 308 p., [24] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm.


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Nov 09, 2020

This book is part true crime and part Canadian history. The author reports a famous murder case in Toronto in 1915, of socialite Charles Massey by his maid Carrie Davies, and inserts it into a snapshot of what was happening in Canada and especially in Toronto at that time. The eventual outcome of Carrie Davies trial was very interesting but I found the historical aspect of the book fascinating. It broadly covers Canada's contribution to the war but really focuses on the growth of Toronto as a powerful, economic force in the country. It talks about the development of architecture, the socio-economic situation in the city, business, immigration and women's rights of the time. It was a really interesting history lesson woven into the story of a murder trial.

Oct 14, 2020

I would like to pick up all the books at St PAuls

Mar 03, 2020

This book delves you into Toronto in 1915. The object of the book is not just the crime. It was about all the little details of how justice proceeded in the time period, how the media of the newspaper impacted the city, the different classes at the time, and captures a city at the brink of war. To me the objective of the novel was to bring a period of time to life offering a glimpse into what life was like. Not knowing anything about the crime prior to reading this was an asset. I was able to fully immerse in the story wondering about the outcome. An outcome that delighted this reader.

Jun 01, 2016

June 1 2016......I picked up this book at a little town store, they sell used books to raise money for a foster child, I always find something intriguing there! I notice the comments below are either good or bad, but I enjoyed this book very much and sped through it. I think it helped that I was researching the "Famous Five" at the time and the plight of women during this period of history. I was shocked by the fact that Carrie was accused of murder (a crime with the penalty of HANGING! at the time,) about one day after her crime, by a judge who was more interested in getting his dock cleared so that he could get to his club. (And he wasn't even a lawyer!) The whole murder trial took 1 1/2 days, and was done within about 2 weeks of the crime. Unbelievable! Of note: If Bert Massey had succeeded in his advances towards Carrie, she would have been condemned to a life of extreme poverty, or prostitution. We have come a long way in this day and age, and I am thankful that I didn't live 100 years ago!

Feb 15, 2016

In 1915 as Canadian troops were being sent to the battlefields of Europe, an eighteen-year old British immigrant named Carrie Davies shot and killed her employer Bert Massey as he came home from work. Being a member of one of Canada's most wealthy and prominent families, the sensational murder trial simply galvanized the city of Toronto with two competing newspapers - the Toronto Daily Star and the Evening Telegram - taking sides in this dispute over "manslaughter or brute slaughter." Was Carrie simply defending her moral purity against a predator like Massey the same way British soldiers were defending king and country against the Hun? Author Charlotte Gray gives us all the background information in this true crime case by providing insightful context on what the city of Toronto was like more than 100 years ago and how the Great War profoundly influenced the verdict. Back when a woman's virginity was considered her best defense and vigilante murders could be justified in a court of law, the picture that Gray paints in this book is truly amazing. While reading about the case, you'll learn so much about Toronto and Canada as a whole during this time. Sadly, although I had heard the name Massey, I had no idea how they made their massive fortune until I read Gray's book. Kudos to the author for making us learn more about our fascinating history as a country through the more popular genre of true crime!

Aug 22, 2015

an interesting story poorly told despite its compelling drive towards a verdict of guilty or not guilty - a long rumination in the story's "Aftermath" on the cultural impact of the First World War completely takes the wind out of whatever enthusiasm one might've had for the trial's conclusion, which is to say, for the book

rb3221 May 20, 2015

A fascinating and intriguing story of Carrie Davies, an 18 year old domestic, and her murder trail of a member of the famous Massey family. Very interesting as Gray writes the book within the context of Toronto in 1915 and Word War One. A readable and enjoyable story that will captivate you.

Nov 12, 2014

The Massey Murder: a Maid, her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Country. By Charlotte Gray. Names like Massey are well known to many Torontonians. There’s Massey Hall. There was Massey-Ferguson, the company that manufactured agricultural machinery sold throughout the country. Vincent Massey, another family member, was once the Governor General of Canada: in the western suburb of Etobicoke, there was once a high school dignified with his name. Hart House at the University of Toronto was named after another member of the family. Gray, however, tells the story of another member of the Massey family, perhaps not one so gladly remembered as these members of the Toronto elite. This is the story of Charles Massey, long since relegated to obscurity, and Carrie Davies. It is the story of Curry Davies who kills her master, Charles Massey. It is the story of the trial that follows. The events of the First World War and the proceedings of the case resonate with one another in way few would imagine. As the recounts her story, Gray writes her history in an easy way. Her style is almost that of a noveslist. A novelist writing history. Very enjoyable. Enjoyable enough that I've put a few of her other books on my "for later" list.

Oct 15, 2014

I couldn't get into this book. Found it very boring so did not finish it.

Sep 19, 2014

This book recounts perhaps the first example in Canada of a woman who beat off a murder charge (several men had in previous years), despite several eyewitnesses to the act, on the grounds she feared she was going to be raped by her master, one of the country's economic scions. May very well also have been an early example of jury nullification, until then an almost exclusively American concept in law. Today, such a situation would have likely been treated as sexual harassment and such drastic measures would not have been required. As the author notes, it gave the country a brief respite from the horrible slaughter of soldiers during World War I. The ending was rather bittersweet for a true crime book.

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