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Watching the Devil Dance

How a Spree Killer Slipped Through the Cracks of the Criminal Justice System

by William Toffan

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criminals & outlaws, criminology
list price: $22.95
published: 2020
publisher: Biblioasis

The unbelievable true story of Canada’s first known spree killer, told by a veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

In June 1966, Matthew Charles Lamb took his uncle’s shotgun and wandered down Ford Blvd in Windsor, Ontario. At the end of the bloody night, two teenagers lay dead, with multiple others injured after an unprovoked shooting spree. In his investigation into Lamb’s story, Will Toffan pieces together the troubled childhood and history of violence that culminated in the young man’s dubious distinction as Canada’s first known spree killer—at which point the story becomes, the author writes “too strange for fiction.” Travelling from the border city streets, to the courtroom, to the Oak Ridge rehabilitation centre, and finally Rhodesia, Watching the Devil Dance is both a thrilling narrative about a shocking true crime and its bizarre aftermath and an insightful analysis of the 1960s criminal justice system.

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Contributor notes

A retired history teacher and veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, William Toffan lives in Windsor, Ontario, with his wife, Laura, and children Lauren, Heidi, Oksana, and Heather. Watching the Devil Dance is his first book.

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Editorial Review

Praise for Watching the Devil Dance

"A vital addition to the Canadian true crime canon. Packed with agonizing moment after agonizing moment, Watching the Devil Dance takes you from the bloodied sidewalks to the moan-filled hallways of Oak Ridge and places the Matthew Lamb case at the centre of a turning point in legal history, offering a peek into Canadian history rarely examined and highlighting the historic failings of the criminal justice system in our country. This is not just a regional crime story. It is a tragedy with national implications."—Vanessa Brown, author of The Forest City Killer: A Serial Murderer, A Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice

“An unusual tale marked by fascinating elements that are unique to the era in which his crimes occurred. [Toffan’s] book offers detailed insight into a type of criminal that would later become more prevalent: the mass murderer.” —Toronto Star

“An impressive debut ... By any yardstick, this is an excellent true-crime book. Toffan develops context and provides understanding, especially of the law. He also renders a gripping account of the murders, without ever sensationalizing the violence he recounts.”Winnipeg Free Press

“Fascinating, measured, and compulsively readable, Watching the Devil Dance is essential true crime reading and a chilling indictment of the failings of the justice system.” —Open Book

“With spectacular insight Toffan details the horrible tragedy of Lamb’s shooting spree, submerging the reader in that era and putting them right in the middle of the story. Toffan also gives us a very generous amount of background on Lamb which is essential in understanding the mind of a killer ... This is a must read for crime story lovers.”—The Horror Report

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