Murdering a spouse via arsenic-laced White Spot milkshakes may sound like an imaginative fiction plot, but Vancouver author Eve Lazarus’ new true-crime book details events that really took place in the Lower Mainland.
Murder by Milkshake explores the life of CKNW radio personality Rene Castellani, his affair with the station’s receptionist, and the poisoned ice-cream treats that lead to his wife Esther’s death in 1965.
In the middle of the plot so Castellani could to rid himself of Esther and wed his mistress, was the couple’s daughter Jeannine – only 11-years-old at the time.
Fifty years later, Lazarus worked with Castellani to compile her non-fiction account, resulting in a friendship between the two and several public appearances to finally discuss what happened all those years ago.
“Jeannine [Castellani] has been talking about this publicly for only a couple of months,” Lazarus said. “She only spoke about it at the book release at the Vancouver Police Museum. She is just warm and smart and just working through it all.”
Lazarus, born in Australia, has been in Vancouver for 30 years and said her fascination with true crime grew over time.
“I was a business reporter and sort of stumbled into it by accident,” Lazarus explained. “I started researching and found stories of bootleggers and corrupt cops that took place right here in Vancouver.”
At Home With History was Lazarus’ first book published in 2007 – a non-fiction story collection that detailed the history of Vancouver heritage homes. Sensational Victoria, Sensational Vancouver, and Cold Case Vancouver explored the city’s darker side while 2017’s Blood, Sweat, and Fear presented the life of Inspector J.F.C.B. Vance, Vancouver’s first forensic investigator. Lazarus also hosts and produces her own true-crime podcast.
Lazarus says Murder by Milkshake has taken on a life of its over the past six months, as touring engagements have taken her all over the Lower Mainland.
“People are connecting with the story because they may have known someone in it or really connected with Jeannine [Castellani],” Lazarus said. “I’ve even gotten messages on Facebook from people saying ‘you’ve mentioned me in your book’.”
Lazarus will be signing copies of Murder by Milkshake at Indigo Bookstore, 20015 Langley Bypass, Saturday July 6 from 12 to 3 p.m.
Castellani, now a Surrey resident, will be joining Lazarus for the signing for the first hour. This will be the first time she has joined the author at an event since the release.
“We’ll be there to answer questions. I’m thrilled Jeannine will be there with me. She [Castellani] had a bigger line than me at the Police Museum,” Lazarus said.
For more information on the book or Eve Lazarus’ work, people can visit her website www.evelazarus.com.
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