Title: A Daughter’s Deadly Deception
Author: Jeremy Grimaldi
My Rating: ♥♥♥
I first heard of this chilling story on my favourite true crime podcast, Casefile (seriously, if you’re into true crime, you have to check it out). I was surprised and excited to hear about this local Toronto-area case on the Australian podcast, and so of course, I had to look it up for more information. Of course, the book has a lot more detail than the 2-and-a-half-hour podcast, so it was great to delve into this case.
Jennifer Pan was the daughter of immigrants from Vietnam who had worked themselves silly trying to give Jennifer and her brother a better chance at life. In primary school, Jennifer was a golden child, with almost perfect grades at school and numerous awards in piano and ice skating. Something started to change in her when she hit grade nine, and that’s where it all started going downhill for her. Suddenly she wasn’t doing so well at school, so she started down a rabbit hole of lies by fudging her report cards. When she failed a subject and her university offer was withdrawn, the web of lies deepened and she started to pretend she was going to school. And all of this so as not to look like a failure in her parents’ eyes.
Alongside this fabricated life that she made for herself, Jennifer had a boyfriend that her parents just did not approve of. They forbade her from seeing him, which seemed to make her want to see him even more. So again, she was sneaking around seeing him behind their backs. Keep in mind that we are talking about a young woman in her 20s here, and not a 15 year old.
So one day, her parents find out about some of these lies and that’s when Jennifer snaps. She arranges a group of men to come and stage a home invasion and kill her parents. Sadly, her mother is killed in the incident but her dad’s life is spared.
The book gives intricate details of everything that happens. There are quotes from Jennifer and excerpts from text conversations between her and her forbidden boyfriend and between some of the “hit men.” At the end of the book, the author notes that he was unable to do interviews with Jennifer or any of the other main characters in the story, so I guess the quotes from her came from recorded police interviews, although it doesn’t explicitly say. There are a few other experts who get in on it too, such as experts on Asian immigrants’ parenting styles and a psychologist who analyzes Jennifer based on just the book.
Somehow, for me, these other “experts” kind of made the book seem a bit…tabloid-y. Like the author wanted to pass judgement on the situation, and so he went out and found whoever he could to agree with what he thought. It struck me as a bit odd and disjointed at times.
Overall, the book was fairly good. It’s a fascinating story, and one that I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of before listening to that podcast. I have it three stars for bringing to light this fascinating case, but no more than that because of the disjointed style and sensationalist feel.