Author Spotlights

Volume IX – Kevin Donovan

Cece chats with Kevin Donovan, author of The Billionaire Murders, and chief investigative reporter for the Toronto Star

Cece chats with Kevin Donovan, author of The Billionaire Murders, and chief investigative reporter for the Toronto Star

kevin donovan resizedIt is akin to the Canadian version of the American television show, Dateline, a newsmagazine that features true crime mysteries and in-depth documentaries that detail the suspicious deaths of ordinary people. In the Canadian version, however, the mystery surrounding the inexplicable deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman, deaths that are, in fact, believed to be a double homicide, is one that involves a high-profile rags-to-riches couple.

A lot of the Sherman friends talked about Dateline, they love that show. I don’t watch it myself, but I do like the concept,” Donovan says. “Of course, murder is a terrible thing, but if there’s going to be a murder, I like to be the sleuth, the one that puts the pieces together and brings justice to bear. There’s a cat and mouse aspect to it all as well, which I really enjoy. It’s not a conscious thing with me, I think it’s kind of who I am.”

Donovan has been the lead investigative reporter on the Sherman murders for the Toronto Star, from the time that the couple were found dead, in what Donovan describes as “a bizarre tableau” on December 17th, 2017.  Famously, the Toronto Police Service’s original statement on the Sherman murders was that it was a murder-suicide, a belief that was quickly derided based on what appears to be the staged positions of the bodies when found.

The Shermans were members of the upper class, well-connected to such political leaders as Justin Trudeau, for whom they held a gala fund raiser in their home, in 2015.   

Barry Sherman was the enormously successful billionaire entrepreneur who manufactured generic drugs under the company name of Apotex Inc., a name that is prominently displayed at Toronto’s Humber River Hospital, under the banner, Apotex Emergency Department. Widely known for his insatiable workaholic drive, his outsized taste for risk, superior intelligence, litigious nature, and jaw-dropping generosity, with both his own children as well as those of his friends, Barry was an enigma, a two-sided coin, a man who gifted millions of dollars to friends’ children, while at the same time flying economy and driving an old beat up car. Honey, a philanthropist who was the dynamic force behind the Sherman charity initiatives, was also known to give ‘frugal’ a run for its money.

I am told that Honey’s frugality comes from being a child of parents who survived the Holocaust,” Donovan says. “Her family was very careful with their money. Her dad had a shoe store in the junction area and was known to be a frugal man. Barry’s mom took in boarders at one point, and his father died at a young age, so things would have been tight. I haven’t heard of a single time when either Barry or Honey blew a lot of money. There are examples of the couples frugality in the book, one of which was shared by a friend of Honey’s. She said that Honey had a pair of work out shorts that had a hole in them, and rather than get anyone else to sew them for her, Honey did it herself.”

The book Donovan is referring to is, The Billionaire Murders, (2020), the reporter’s fascinating background account of the events both leading up to the deaths of the Shermans, as well as the aftermath of intrigue, finger-pointing, name blaming and divisive family drama that has cast a second pall over the Sherman deaths.

An insider and bread crumb collector of clues from the get go, Donovan has interviewed several family members and friends of the Shermans, building both trust and some highly intriguing friendships.

“I build trust by listening to what my sources, the people who are willing to talk to me, willing to share their personal experiences and opinions with me, are saying,” Donovan says. “I keep my big mouth shut and just listen to what people have to say. I’ve always believed that if you make a source, you have to keep a source; and so, I keep in touch with some of the people I interviewed for the case, some of whom are in their 60’s and 70’s. I check in with them because I care about them; they are good people and they’re upset about what happened to their friends. In fact, it is the friends of the Shermans who really want their murders solved.”

Interestingly, in late December, the usually elusive Jonathon, the Shermans’ second oldest child and only son, invited Donovan to his home for an interview.

“Come alone,” Jonathon told Donovan. 

That interview can be found at Barry Sherman’s son says his father asked him to repay tens of millions of dollars, two weeks before murders, but Barry was ‘all in’ with son’s business | The Star

Kerry Winter, the ragtag outspoken finger-pointing cousin of Barry, is one of the people that Donovan has interviewed, and with whom he keeps in touch. In fact, Winter, who Donovan says is ‘just one of those people you meet who is really interesting,’ texted Donovan the other day, saying, ‘Kevin, it’s a murder-suicide; it’s a big cover up.’ But Donovan says he likes Winter “who, by his own admission, has a lot of demons.”

In addition to interviewing friends and family, Donovan has also spent a significant time in court representing the Toronto Star’s interests around getting sealed documents, relative to the Sherman case, unsealed and made public.

KD photo at tv show resized

“A couple of weeks ago, I once again cross-examined Detective Dennis Yim, who at the beginning of the case, had been seconded from his duties as a divisional detective and assigned to the high profile homicide squad. The first few times I represented the Star in court I found it exhausting, because obviously, I’m not a lawyer,” Donovan says. “But now, I’ve been able to get out of my own head and I’m fine asking the hard questions. I think journalists have to be at least as good as a detective, and probably better, because we don’t have search warrant capabilities. The only powers that I have are my ability to get people to talk, and my ability to figure things out. I have spoken recently to people who the police interviewed way back, and I’ve interviewed them in much more depth. These people are sources of mine and they have information that would be really helpful to the police, but they say, “Well the police have got to come to me.” These people have theories that are in line with what the police theories happen to be – they are not volunteering their opinions to the police – but they are talking to me.  I think the police are trying to build a case against a person or persons and have not publicly stated who that person or persons are, but I think they are having a really hard time.”

Admitting that he is someone who has always enjoyed confrontational interviews, Donovan has certainly been embroiled in some of the most provocative stories that Toronto, in fact the whole country, has been immersed in other these past many years.

Along with fellow reporter, Robyn Doolittle, Donovan covered the late Mayor Rob Ford’s fall from gracefrom the episode involving Ford’s seemingly intoxicated behaviour at Toronto’s Garrison Ball, to the tumultuous reporting on the infamous ‘crack’ video.

“It was one of the toughest stories I have ever covered,” Donovan says. “There was huge pushback from ‘Ford Nation.’ I was not prepared for the backlash. After one of the first stories was published, I remember being woken up at 6 a.m. by a call from a talk radio station. I did not realize I was on the air, and the radio host, certainly it was someone who was pro-Ford, started really assaulting Toronto Star journalists: how dare we do this, how dare we say that. [Report on what was happening with Ford]. Fortunately, I didn’t say anything untoward that would embarrass my paper, but right after that, the paper received thousands of subscription cancellations which were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’m not sure that we ever really got those readers back.” 

Donovan, who has also authored Secret Life: The Jian Ghomeshi Investigation, (2016), and The Dead Times, (2014), as well as co-authoring Crime Story with Nick Pron, states that when and if there is an arrest in the Sherman murders, he would certainly like to write a follow up book to The Billionaire Murders.

“At that point, there will be a lot more information unsealed,” Donovan says.

The wait for another much anticipated Kevin Donovan book is going to be murder.

Janet LoSole resized

Make sure to get your bus ticket for next week when Cece chats with Janet LoSole, author of Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America. 


Check out Cece’s new weekly feature:  This Week’s Hottest Book Review

Cece is the feature cover writer for several prestigious publications, and is an informed, connected and enthusiastic book blogger at cecece in library small Her first book, The Love Story, was published in 2019. Her second book will be coming out in the spring of 2021. Cece is also working on a book of Daily Reflections for Auto Immune Condition Warriors.


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