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Novelist focuses on last person hanged in Nanaimo

Jay Lang dedicates latest book, Snake Oil, to her Prince George mom

Cop-killer Henry Wagner, the last person hanged in Nanaimo, is being brought back to life by Jay Lang, a Vancouver author with Prince George roots, in her latest mystery novel.

The Canadian Historical Mystery Series commissioned Lang to write a historic novel scheduled for a November release and she’s based her book, The Flying Dutchman, on Wagner, a career criminal rumoured to have once been part of Butch Cassidy’s gang of train robbers in Wyoming. He and his accomplice committed a series of robberies along the coast of Vancouver Island in 1913 before he was captured in a shootout that took the life of a police officer.

“He stole the boat he used to get up here and it had two engines on it, back when they were using steam, so he could just whip up and down the coast and rob from everybody,” said Lang.

Lang, a two-time winner of the Books We Love bestseller award, has written 11 murder mysteries since the pandemic, all set in B.C. locations.

“In all of these books I try to do a strong protagonist that speaks about issues that are prevalent now, issues likes drugs, and I do it in away that’s not preachy, but I do it so it’s kind of an overcoming thing,” Lang said.

A former model/actor and rock band clothing designer, Lang grew up on Vancouver Island near Comox and is a former Prince George resident.

Her latest book, Snake Oil is dedicated to her 76-year-old mother in Prince George, Heather Mckeand.