Nova Scotia Premier and MLA for Annapolis, Stephen McNeil, recently moved Resolution 1304 on the floor of the provincial House, which congratulated Goose Lane Editions‘ author Debra Komar on her latest book, The Lynching of Peter Wheeler, and wished her lasting success in the remainder of her book series. The resolution received unanimous consent and appears in the Hansard, the official record of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly. Read it here.
“Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Debra Komar on her recent book launch and wish her continued success as she continues work to uncover clues from the past,” said McNeil on the legislature floor. The premier ensured that a copy of the bound resolution was delivered to Komar’s door and invited her to meet with him at a later date.
“It came in a lovely gold embossed red folder. . . I literally didn’t know what to say – I had no idea it had happened,” said Komar.
The Lynching of Peter Wheeler is a shocking story about the state-sanctioned lynching of an innocent outsider wrongfully convicted of killing a teenage white girl in nineteenth-century Nova Scotia. On a cold winter night in 1896, fourteen-year-old Annie Kempton was home alone having a taste of freedom without parents or family around. Sometime before daylight she was wrenched from her bed, a violent struggle ensued, and her throat was slit.
Peter Wheeler was an itinerant labourer of African descent who had finally found a home in small town Bear River. Uneducated and too trusting of authority, Wheeler was bewildered at the reaction when an inquest witness seemingly pointed out a lie in his testimony. From then on Wheeler was placed atop the suspect list by authorities, where he stayed until swinging dead from the hangman’s rope.
The Lynching of Peter Wheeler, Komar’s second in a series involving historical crime, tells the tragic and fascinating story of how an isolated Victorian community, with an unsophisticated inquest panel, was influenced by an arrogant detective who fancied himself a media darling. With conservative mores left traumatized in the wake of a young girl’s vicious murder, and the salacious headlines splashed across the local newspapers in a yellow journalism war, Wheeler never stood a chance.
Debra Komar is the author of The Ballad of Jacob Peck (2013), her first historical crime work. A Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a practicing forensic anthropologist for over twenty years, Komar has investigated human rights violations for the United Nations and Physicians for Human Rights and testified as an expert witness in The Hague and across North America. She is the author of the book Forensic Anthropology: Contemporary Theory and Practice for Oxford University Press (2008).