Cover Image: Missing from the Village

Missing from the Village

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Member Reviews

This is the tragic story of the disappearance of 8 men from Toronto's queer community, discovered to be the victim's of serial killer Bruce McArthur.
Author Justin Ling gives us a horrific story that was extremely well-researched and told with an abundance of compassion. Focusing on the 8 victims and their stories is what sets this true crime novel apart from others that dwell on the murderer and his methods.
We are told about the systematic failures regarding the police, government, etc... because of who the victims were, and how the community came together insisting this investigation move forward.
This is a chapter in Toronto's history that must not be repeated!
Superb investigative journalism!

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada / McClelland & Stewart for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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Missing from the Village tells the tragic story of the disappearance and murder of 8 men at the hands of a serial killer based in Toronto who specifically targeted queer men of color who were immigrants.

Upon finishing this book, I felt like I knew and understood who the victims were in this case, which is something I really look for in true crime these days. I hope we are moving past sensationalizing serial killers in books, this book was a decent balance of both with a good helping of queer Canadian history (specifically Toronto) and the abusive relationship with the police that queer folks have struggled with for decades. I think the history is crucial in understanding just how and why the killer was able to continue to be active despite the community sounding the alarm for years.

I won’t lie, this book left me a little sadder than expected. There is something about being reminded that existing while being queer is dangerous still, even here in Canada. I tell myself that leaving the conservative parts of the US to live in Montreal with my wife makes me safer, but this is a reminder that still just existing outside of the heteronormative world still puts me in danger, and not knowing if the police would actually do much if something did happen to me is destabilizing. This is tough and not something I had prepared myself to grapple with while reading this book.

Overall, this was a good true crime book, if you like true crime content you will likely like this book.

TWs for this book: homophobia, transphobia, police brutality, murder (of both queer men and trans women)

Thanks to NetGalley, and McClelland and Stewart for this copy to review!

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Missing From the Village chronicles the disappearance and murder of eight men from Toronto’s gay village.⁣

This book is incredibly well written and as difficult as it was to read at times, I could not put it down. It also made me incredibly sad at how these men were targeted and also how the concerns of their loved ones were dismissed or downplayed because of stereotypes.⁣

Although it is a true crime book, it is more than that. The author, Justin Ling, goes beyond these specific cases to talk about the history of violence against the LGBT community in Canada, their turbulent history with the police, and how the community came together to push this investigation forward.⁣

What I most appreciated in this book is how much care was given to the victims and their friends and family. There is no victim blaming or judgement. The emphasis here is very much on their lives and what was lost because of these crimes and not on the person who committed them (who I will not mention).⁣

I highly recommend the author’s podcast from CBC Uncover: The Village which goes further into the turbulent history between the police and LGBT community in Toronto specifically. ⁣

Thank you to Netgalley, McClelland and Stewart and Penguin Random House Canada for the opportunity to review this book.⁣

Missing From the Village is out today.

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MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto’s Queer Community by Justin Ling is a gripping and informative book. I could tell that so much time and effort was put into writing this book. It was clear that Ling made sure this book was well researched and provided not only the facts but some insight into how to move forward. I appreciated the straight forward timeline and backstory to get to know the victims and the plight of the community. Definitely give this book a read if you’re interested in good investigative journalism.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalley for my digital galley!

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Whether you were in the heart of Toronto when Andrew Kinsman first went missing, or somewhere not even close – if you know the name Bruce McArthur, you’ll remember him as Toronto’s most recent serial killer (that we know of).

Missing from the Village by Justin Ling is a phenomenal investigative book that gives us not only a close look at the tragic ends of the victims, but sprinkled in-between is Canada’s history with LGBTQ+ rights, past events, and specific situations that have ramifications on what lead to the victims to where they were at the time.

As Justin says in his intro, this is not a true crime book, and take his word for it. This book is much more than that.

I really appreciated his care and attention, and how he explains his involvement and queries for literally years before a serial killer was even hinted at, let alone charged. He gives a great outlook on timelines that are well-detailed.

This book is an emotional one, especially as we get to know who each of the 8 victims are.

If you’re interested in journalism, investigative journalism, or simply interested in this story, this book is for you! I highly recommend it – and this is coming from me, a person who rarely reads nonfiction! So take my word for it when I say that this one is phenomenal!

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MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE is destined to become a National Bestseller.

Investigative Reporter Justin Lang, himself a member of Toronto's LGBTQ community - the very same community from which McArthur chose his victims - is uniquely qualified to author this book.

I say this, NOT based on his sexuality, I say this because he seems to have been the only person, and definitely the only reporter, who was interested in finding out what was happening in Toronto's Gay Village YEARS before the police even considered the men's disappearances to be connected. Not only that, but because Justin knows the area, and is a reporter with a heart who cares (sometimes too much) about each victim as person, not just another face in the lineup of victims, Justin is the only person who could tell this story without sensationalism getting in the way.

I have read numerous true crime books over the span of many years, but MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE is unique. It is superbly told so that the focus is not on the gruesome crimes themselves, but is on the story as a whole. I love that the author was so wrapped up in the story that, at times, he had to fight back tears.

Canada has its fair share of crimes, including murder, but Canadian serial killers are rare. These killers seem to focus on marginalized populations, seeing those victims as disposable. The problem is that they seem to be right. It took way too long for the police to catch this POS.

Sex, murder and secrets are the basis for this horrific true crime story that, if I didn't know better, I would never have believed to be true, especially not here in Ontario, Canada.

MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE is a MUST READ if you want to know the entire story, not just of Bruce McArthur and his victims, but also the history of Toronto's gay village and the fight for LGBTQIA2S rights, and why Bruce McArthur was able to go on killing over the span of several years and remain undetected.

In this era of the #metoo movement and the calls to #defundthepolice and, of course, #blacklivesmatter we all need to remember that many people are still seen as unimportant. THIS NEEDS TO STOP.

For decades people who are queer, who are sex workers, who are black, who are brown, who are Indigenous, who are homeless, and many more, have been treated as if their lives do not matter. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure we see, REALLY SEE, every person as equal and as precious. This book will open people's eyes, it is up to us to ensure our eyes stay open.

If we can do this, maybe, just maybe, we can stop the next Bruce McArthur from being able to choose victims at will.

I rate MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I will be watching for Justin Ling's byline, and hopefully another book.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

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The short description of this book is that it's about the victims of a serial killer in Toronto. That's a really inadequate description of this work though. Justin Ling has written a book that recounts what has happened and what is still happening to a "community" of people in Canada. I have quotations around the word, community, because like Ling I think that the LGBTQIA2+ (Queer) community isn't always a community. I know that's an unpopular opinion but I thought that Ling covered it very succinctly in the introduction to this book so it is worth mentioning!

This book is a detailed and empathetic account of the timeline of a terrible time in Canada's recent history. From 2010 to 2017 members of Toronto's queer community disappeared without a trace. Members of the queer community mobilized to try and search for their friends, families were frightened and confused, the police... weren't really engaged in any helpful way. In 2018 Bruce McArthur was arrested in connection with some of the disappearances. A lot of things happened between 2010 and 2018 and much of it leads one to believe that there were significant mistakes made by law enforcement.

Ling also writes about the way the history of queer people and violence/death. He writes of forty-two queer people who were killed between 1975 and 1985. There are times when law enforcement implies that the blame lies with the community itself and that may add to peoples' reluctance to get involved.

And what of racism and its impact on crime investigation? Ling explores the fact that many of the missing men were people of colour, immigrants and the impact that their background may have had on the "weight" law enforcement gave to their significance. Ling's research is significant and relevant considering the current issues facing law enforcement regarding systemic racism. Even now family and friend's are revealing the they were fearful of being speaking to police because of their precarious status with respect to immigration.

Justin Ling has basically written a book outlining the way he uncovered the details of this case. This book is intriguing for a couple of reasons. The way that Ling writes about the victims of Bruce McArthur is caring, clear and thorough. Ling has taken the time to get to know the men who disappeared from the community. The author has delved into the past of people who might otherwise have become just a name on a page. Ling has interviewed family and friends, delved into the past of the missing men, and doesn't shy away from speaking about how many mistakes are made in terms of the investigation of these cases.

Men began to go missing in 2010, police had McArthur's name in 2013. He was interviewed twice. He had been arrested for assault. He was not arrested until 2018. What happened in all that time in between?

Ling explores the complicated nature of searching for information in the queer community. Not only is the community sometimes fragmented but fear leads many people to remain silent or hold on to information. In addition to the missing men in Toronto's queer village, this case was complicated by the Luka Magnotta case and the domestic terrorism of Alek Minassian.

This book is an interesting exploration of the way that connections between people are made... and might still be overlooked in certain communities. Ling also explores the accuracy of criminal profiling and supposes that the sample group of "serial killers" isn't large enough for accurate conclusions to be drawn about their behaviour. This sparked a lot of thought for me about basic statistics and set me off on my own research.

The names of the men who were killed are forefront in this book and I appreciate that. Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisawik, Krishna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, Skandaraj Navaratnam and Soroush Mahmudi are names that will be remembered for a long time to come.

This is an interesting and engaging book. Ling has walked the line between being factual and being empathetic. He gives the deceased men the space they need on the page to become "real" and valued. I appreciated the remarkable effort and dedication that went into the telling of this story. It is a sad but important book. There are so many issues being brought into the light at the moment regarding law enforcement and this book is very timely.

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Missing From The Village is a true crime book unlike any other. Ling moves away from gratuitous account and instead leads with empathy. While there is focus on McArthur, Ling primarily goes in-depth about the lives of the victims, and how Toronto PD (and police departments as a whole) have failed to uphold “serve and protect” in regards to marginalized communities. Well-researched with an author who clearly cares about his work and those impacted:

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In the early 2010s, Toronto’s gay Village played host to a series of disappearances of individuals linked by race and sexuality. For many years that followed, locals began to suspect the deliberate targeting of gay men in what looked to possibly be a series of murders within one of Toronto’s most vulnerable communities. Years later, on January 18th, 2018, Bruce McArthur was charged for three – and, later, eight – counts of murder, a discovery that shocked residents of the Greater Toronto Area while validating the community’s worst fears.

Justin Ling’s investigative journaling in Missing From the Village gives readers a comprehensive picture of the events leading to these charges, painting a broad stroke that begins with McArthur’s own upbringing that extends into the origins of Project Houston and the ensuing investigation(s), the Toronto police service’s fraught history with the LGBT community, and the fondly remembered lives of those victimized at McArthur’s hand.

In this well-researched account, Ling’s line of inquiry rubs salt in the wound – by necessity – of one of our country’s greater failures, exposing the insidious underbelly of racism and homophobia that stain Canada’s mythological purity. Passing through cultural reference points such as the Toronto van attack and the murder of Tess Richey, this book presents us with a slew of significant questions; how much are the police at fault for failing to follow up on leads that could have brought them to the murderer before more lives were lost? How much can we hold ourselves accountable for those fallen in our community? And most importantly: what can we all learn moving forward so that a tragedy of this degree never happens again?

Missing From the Village is an outstandingly well thought out rumination on current events that interrogates structures of power at a pivotal moment in our culture that asks us where we go when the very institutions meant to protect us choose instead to turn a blind eye.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and Netgalley for this attentive and thought provoking read!

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