Tuesday, August 20, 2019


With no evidence of a crime, the mystery of a missing Alberta teen remains unsolved.
By M.J. Preston

August 6, 2017
Vegreville, Alberta

James Nestor Candy
Sometime during the night, 17-year-old James Nestor Candy climbed from his bedroom window and vanished.  According to Canadasmissing.ca, 31,387 people went missing in 2018, and many of those were young people. Missing persons can be attributed to everything from parental abduction to a kid that has just wandered off. Often these kids can be tracked to cities, but the vast numbers coupled to limited resources make it an overwhelming task for police and families. The fact is that if your teenage kid runs away and they really don’t want to be found, locating them can prove very problematic. Drawing that conclusion, an outsider might say, “Just another runaway. They’ll turn up in Vancouver or Toronto.” After all, young people run away from home for a myriad of reasons.  
So, when James Candy’s father, Colin Candy, found his son’s window open on that morning, he wasn’t immediately alarmed. 
But as the morning unfolded and clues to James disappearance began to come to light, a search for this missing teenager was conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, volunteers, and family. On that morning when Colin found his son’s room empty, he first noticed that the window was open and living in the country, the room was full of mosquitos. 

James was the youngest child in a blended family of a boy raised in a family with six siblings. Colin and Karen both had three kids from previous marriages. On Colin’s side, Crystal, David, and Brian, on Karen’s, Mellissa, Heather, and Apryl. They had James after they married.  After losing their home during the economic downturn, the family relocated to the Vegreville countryside. James embraced country living, and according to his parents, loved the cowboy life. His chores included feeding and caring for the horses which he treasured, and he did so without complaint. James rarely, if at all complained about doing chores, he cut the grass with being asked. 

Like most, the Candy family was not immune to tragedy. James’s older brother, David, died as a result of
Pictured left, James enjoying the rodeo life.
ohol abuse. The family had suffered a devastating loss, and according to both Colin and Karen, this took a toll on James as he and David were very close. Also, being a small kid, James was bullied in school, trying to cope with the angst of being a teenager and finding his way. 

On the evening before James disappeared, he and his friend, Austin, were set to go out for the night when Karen noticed something in James pocket. When she pushed him on it, she discovered a small amount of marijuana, so he was not allowed to go out, and Austin went home. They sat down and talked about the marijuana. Colin and Karen were concerned, having lost a son to substance abuse, and if he, James, wanted to pursue a career in the rodeo, he would be subject to drug testing. According to Colin, “We had a discussion, we sat down and talked about it. We don’t argue in our house; we talk.”  Colin explained his concerns to his son, and James said smoking weed helped him deal with some of the pressures related to school. Colin had noted that James marks had come up considerably. He was still dealing with bullying in school, and they also found out that he had developed an affection for a girl who did not reciprocate. These issues were weighing heavy on James, and he claimed to be self-medicating with the weed. Colin and Karen were firm that they didn’t want drugs in the house, even marijuana.  Karen believes that in telling their son that they were disappointed in him, “that might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.”  After the discussion, Colin and James talked about the next day’s chores and before bed that evening, Colin told his son that he “loved him” and James returned an “I love you” and then they retired to bed.

Those would be the last words that Colin Candy and James shared.

What Colin initially found that morning didn’t seem that out of the ordinary, except for an open window and an empty room. Given their discussions ending with the words “love you.” So, this rose no real alarm, leaving Colin thinking that James was probably outside in the early morning, tending to the animals and would be back. Colin checked the house and set out onto the property looking for his son, but found nothing. He checked the buildings and the land and was fruitless. Now, concern began to bloom, so he went back to his son’s room to search for more clues. 

When Colin returned to the room, he found a piece of paper on James’s desk with a pen sitting on top of it, when he started to read it, he panicked. It was a suicide note; he gave the letter to Karen and immediately went back out to look for his son. Colin went to the barn, and all the outbuildings horrified of what he might find. After doublechecking everything, he returned to James’s room and noted that the lariat rope was gone, and he had left his wallet, his learners license, and ATM card behind. It was at this point that both Colin and Karen placed a call to the RCMP who took the issue very seriously.
In the note, James talked of the pressures he faced, how he missed his brother, his broken heart, and how he was distressed about disappointing his parents. A massive search of the surrounding area was conducted by the RCMP and volunteers. Ground searches yielded no signs of James and before long days turned into weeks. 

James Nestor Candy was missing, but over time, the searches were scaled back and what little media attention that shone on the case faded. Missing person podcasts have tried to help, including THE VANISHED hosted by Amanda Colman, who outlines the situation thoroughly. But for the most part, the national media outlets like CBC have largely ignored the case.
Before writing this, I contacted Colin and asked him if he submitted his story to the CBC Podcast, SOMEBODY KNOWS SOMETHING, and he said that without clear evidence of a crime they won't touch it. Resources from the police, whom Colin commends as “doing a great job” also began to be reallocated to other cases. There were sightings, which is typical in missing person cases, and Colin was vigilant about checking and maintaining  James’s Facebook page. Hoping that keeping it out there will bring their son home.

December 19th, 2017
A message appeared on James Facebook and messenger, from an individual identifying himself as, Mike Barley, in which he left a message,  James if your still out there I hope you answer this or I’ll be waiting at your front door til your parents go missing too.” 

Colin was concerned. 

Was this a valid threat? Could this Mike Barley know of James whereabouts? Or was this just an internet troll looking for a cheap thrill at the cruel expense of a family desperate to find their son? Colin immediately called the police, who told him to try and initiate a conversation, but the individual never responded. 

There has been no social media activity and banking transactions to indicate that James is out there, but his disappearance the breeds speculation. If James had set out with his lariat rope intent on harming himself, surely evidence would have turned up to support that. But there has been no physical evidence. If James is simply a runaway, he could be anywhere in the country by now. This presents a further challenge, lacking the interest of larger news media outlets like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation because this story is but one in thousands of missing Canadian youths.

Tragically, neither Colin or Karen Candy know what has become of their son, but Colin keeps searching, when he’s on the road driving truck, he puts up Missing Posters of his son and when home, he’s out on horseback checking large caches of property. Looking for something that will lead to finding their son.
James Candy has vanished, while his parents and siblings agonize over not knowing. In speaking with Colin, I noted that he mentioned “no sign and no remains,” and one can only wonder how painful it is for a parent to say those words aloud. To acknowledge that their missing child might be deceased. 

Left to right Colin Candy Karen Candy and their son James.
They keep searching, without closure or explanation and ignored by a media more interested in stories that will bring sponsors. More sensational stories, but a family suffers that unintended indifference. Not knowing. They have only hope that their son will surface and cling to that because they have little else to go on. They have not given up on James, they want him back in the fold of their family while understanding that time is not a friend, but a forgetful foe. While they are sequestered to a foreseeable future of grief without closure, James will become another statistic among many missing teens.

I’ll close by confiding, that I know Colin Candy. We worked together for several years at a company here in Alberta. While Colin and I didn’t hang together, outside work, I still got to know him. The company we worked for, which will remain nameless, employed many ‘away people’ from places like Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and even British Columbia. Economic refugees who have set out from a depressed economy in their home province to the welcoming arms of this province. There was a real family atmosphere in that company, and we got to know a lot about each other. What I remember about Colin were the difficulties he and his wife faced during the economic downturn. I also knew he was an upstanding member of his community, working as a volunteer firefighter in Two Hills, Alberta. And I was there when news broke about the death of his son, David. We all felt it, one of our own had suffered a tragedy. And that is why I am penning this. Because, when James went missing, we all shared and often thought about the anguish that Colin and Karen are suffering. To the public, he might be just another missing kid, but perhaps we should all pause and think, we are not invulnerable to a similar tragedy.

It has now been over two years since James Nestor Candy disappeared. 

The search for the Candy’s, friends, and family will continue. 

If you see James or have information about his disappearance, please contact: 6820 Highway 16A W
Vegreville AB T9C 0A7
Telephone: 780-632-2155

You can also learn more about this story by visiting FIND JAMES CANDY at:

Sunday, March 31, 2019


To be a writer, you must have a love of books or the very least, stories or composition. After all, the work of other writers, whether we want to admit it or not, serve inspiration for our own wild musings. I have a modest library of books that I have carried from place to place decade to decade that has grown with travel. In it, you will not find most classics, although I do have a beat-up copy of Dickens A TALE OF TWO CITIES. But where my Library and that of most writer’s collections meet, whether its signed first editions or mass market paperbacks, the two most important things are the authors and the tale they weave.

The authors? Really, I thought it was all about the story?
Yes, but with each author comes a separate style and molding of a tale in a specific voice. In my library that can be the New England voice of Robert B. Parker, the southern fantasy of Robert R. McCammon or the Midwestern quirkiness of John Sandford. Each of these authors gives a voice to their demographic and geography. My library is not limited not to International bestsellers but wonderful works by independents like B.E. Scully who hales from Oregon or the Californian known as Gene O’Neill. Writer’s like these are the hidden gems in the mass market we now live. Sadly, shrouded by the mediocrity that surrounds them. But here’s the thing, once you push past the Stephanie Meyer-Stephen King wannabes and see all the original ideas out there by so many talented storytellers, you will find yourself bowled over by the wealth of new and exciting work. Oh, and if you’re a follower of Stephen King's rantings about Stephane Meyers, you’ll understand why I put their names in the same sentence. Take that Steve.

As if he’s actually reading my blog. Ha!

Back on track. I have picked up a lot of my books over the years, many signed, from the charming F. Paul Wilson to the brilliant  Joseph Boyden and the equally brilliant R. James Steel. I love most genres, although I’m not much in romance or young adult. I confess that I have no interest in reading Harry Potter, although I acknowledge J.K. Rowling is a treasure brought to this world through perseverance. Young adult falls into a category of which I just don’t relate, but now that I am a grandfather, on more than one count, I will probably jettison that particular prejudice.

In my library, I have horror science fiction, mystery, true-crime, history, and anthologies. In writing my two upcoming books, I have become friends with the true-crime writer and Ted Bundy expert, Kevin M. Sullivan. I think after you write three books on a subject as dark, enigmatic, and monstrous as Ted Bundy you get that status. Sullivan has written four. This guy knows his stuff. If he’s not chasing down information on a new project or road tripping the movements of a serial killer, he’s offering his expertise in documentaries.

My library consists of three bookshelves and only the books I love stand there waiting to be picked up, drawn open and revisited. Maybe not the whole book but a chapter one morning before a stint of writing. Maybe that piece of storytelling where Virgil Flowers breaks up a dognapping ring in John Sandford’s Deadline. Oh, and I must remember to check back on the naked Ross Delvin who stands before a television playing a future reality game. Poor Ross, wondering whether his bowels are going to eject the previous evening's bean burrito meal and thwart his chance of getting to the next level of competition in B.E. Scully’s, THE EYE THAT BLINDS.

Yes, treasured stories, those books kept for love, memory, laughter, horror, escape and even research. I am not going to drop every name I have in my library, but like my fellow book junkies, I have affection for the ones I keep.

As I tie up this rather short blog which is really just a tête-à-tête about books, I would like to pose a challenge to all of you out there who are going to read this. Go to your personal library, pick something that you have held onto for the reasons I have stated and crack it open. This should be something you read and kept, and it can be in whatever genre. Yes. Even romance. And, if you feel like sharing, drop me a line and tell me why.

I’ll leave it there, with a shortlist of some my favorite authors and some of their works. Some friends, some strangers, but there’s always an intimacy when they tell you a story. So, are they really strangers?

Catch you next time.
M.J. Preston 

In no order or specific rank or category, but none the less enthralling and absolutely incomplete because there are so
many more I can’t list for lack of time and pixels.

Michael Connelly – Angels Flight
Jack Olsen – The Man with the Candy
Gregory L. Norris - Tales from the Robot Graveyard
Dean Koontz – Odd Thomas (all of them)
Joseph Heller – Catch 22
F. Tennyson Jesse – The Saga of the San Demetrio
Silvia Pecota – In Remembrance of Our Fallen (Poetry and Art)
Firbolg Publishing – Birthing Monsters 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley (Poetry and stories)
Gord Rollo – The Crucifixion experiments
Joe R. Lansdale - Jackrabbit Smile (Hap and Leonard)
John Douglas and Mark Olshaker – Mindhunter
Richard Bachman – The Long Walk
Stephen King – Apt Pupil (My first King book)
And I could go and on…

Thursday, August 30, 2018


I just finished a book I received from a fellow author, not for review but for pleasure. That’s what writers often do, they exchange books. I’ve known Tony Tremblay for a few years now. I first met him face-to-face at an anthology conference, aka ANTHOCON, in Portsmouth New Hampshire. Pretty much every author I know that writes in the horror field I met at that conference. Almost everybody ended up on my friend's list, but Tony Tremblay stuck out for a couple of reasons. 

   First off, and this is a no bullshit statement, he is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He loves where he lives, loves the people who surround him, including other writers, and he has an aura of positivity that is neither forced or fabricated. Tony Tremblay is the real deal. A proud resident of Goffstown, NH and a huge supporter of the horror community. But that’s not all. He’s passionate, talented and yet he remains humble. So, now I’ve buttered you up and you might think, “Look, he’s plugging a novel for his buddy. Isn’t that nice?” But here’s the thing that writers also do. They tend to go silent when the material doesn’t taste right. As to exchanging books, writers pass each other books, but many end up in a slush pile of To Be Read that is sometimes compromised when said writer goes whoring with a favorite bestselling author. There is also the time factor. I’m not a fast reader, never have been and even if I was my TBR pile is in the 100’s. And yes, writers I like to get bumped up the line. So, it didn’t take long before I wrapped my hands around a signed hardcover of THE MOORE HOUSE by TONY TREMBLAY. The look and feel of a professionally bound hardcover are a great introduction to any book.  The cover is simple leather brown with even simpler artwork. An ancient cross. The feel adds to the invitation, the matte cover feeling like a thin skin of raw leather.
As I opened the book, I read Bracken McLeod’s introduction and upon finishing, I thought, “Now what the hell am I going to say to top that?”
With McLeod’s foreword in my rear-view mirror, I started reading…
The Moore House is thought to have a black soul, based on its history and reputation. It is the nucleus of evil acts. Suicide, disappearances, murders that include dismemberment, can all be connected to the Moore House. But no one gets convicted of these crimes. The murders that are discovered and investigated are predestined to become cold cases.
And then there is that other school of thought. Perhaps the house itself is the killer, inhabited by an evil, not of this world?
Catholic Priest, Father MacLeod leads a team of three excommunicated nuns, Nora, Agnes, and Celeste, to investigate the Moore House at the behest of a local businessman, Kevin Lewis. Lewis’ granddaughter has been missing for some time and he believes that the house has something to do with it. With connections in the Vatican, Lewis uses his influence to send MacLeod’s team to the Moore House to explore the possibility that the dwelling might be possessed.
That is what they do, with each woman possessing an ability to pinpoint the presence of paranormal or demonic activity, they sweep the property with zero results. Satisfied, Father MacLeod departs, while the three women stay on and are compelled to go into the house following a uniformed police officer who thinks he sees the missing Lewis child and requests their assistance.
What ensues is imprisonment and a web of trickery on the part of the houses demonic presence. The sins of the team itself are inventoried individually as the devil’s disciple casts its influence on the trapped women. Meanwhile, Father MacLeod returns to save the women and brings help, including the businessman, Lewis and a local pawnbroker who seems to know more than is letting on.
In the Moore House, Tremblay revives the demonic possession tale with purity and strength.  A melding of Ghost Story meets The Exorcist is what is suggested. Having read both books I can understand the analogy. But this story reminds me of another of demonic possession book, John Farris’ SON OF THE ENDLESS NIGHT. Not so much because of a similar storyline, there isn’t, but the style of the writing feels the same. That’s a compliment. Tremblay remains true to the legend surrounding exorcism and has researched the subject matter for which he uses as his backdrop. His non-villain characters are flawed, forgivable, and even likable. His villains are to be despised and feared. And of course, there is the house itself. Impervious to arson, able to change and cloak its victims using its black soul while playing host to a top-tier demon.
I’m not going to tell you anything else about the plot, I’m not going to ruin it for you. I am going to tell you that I enjoyed this story a lot. Even though I stated only weeks ago that I was “so over” haunted houses. Tremblay gets a pass on that complaint because he tells a wicked story and his characters easily become your characters. I even felt a little twinge, because it reminded me somewhat of my debut novel, THE EQUINOX. Again, not because the stories are the same, but the writer of Moore House has the same feeling I was trying to portray in my first full-length novel. That is also a compliment.
This is Tony Tremblay’s debut novel with Twisted Publishing, an imprint of Haverhill House Publishing. He has also published a short story collection called SEEDS OF NIGHTMARES. This debut novel is worth checking out. If you’re a fan of John Farris or classic King, you won’t be disappointed. Also, there is a bonus at the end of this book. Tremblay leaves you with an introduction and a short tale, dessert after the main course. That is THE REVEREND’S WIFE.
It is available in hardcover, paperback and on kindle.
Get it on Amazon
MJ Preston