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First Degree: From Med School to Murder The Story Behind the Shocking Will Sandeson Trial
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First Degree: From Med School to Murder The Story Behind the Shocking Will Sandeson Trial

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  211 ratings  ·  37 reviews

A murder, a missing body, and a sensational trial that shocked the community.

Will Sandeson seemed like a model son. A member of the Dalhousie University track and field team, he was about to start classes at Dalhousie's medical school. He had attended a medical school in the Caribbean; he worked at a group home for adults with disabilities. "There's times for whatever

Paperback, 280 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Nimbus Publishing
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
As someone who was going to the Faculty of Agriculture of Dalhousie University in Truro during the time of the murder and the following events, it's interesting to get a fully flushed out explanation of what went on.

That being said, I can honestly say that while this was interesting, I didn't like how this book was written and laid out. At times it was the sentence structuring and explanation of things that threw me off. Other times it was the seemingly unnecessary detours and additional
Lori Errington
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is difficult to read because of the true tragedy of the story and the fact that it all really happened. First Degree is also easy to read because of the skillful way in which the author presents the background, official records, and interviews. It is well-written, gripping, and hard to put down. An excellent choice for anyone who loves true crime novels or who remembers the compelling and devastating story of a young man's disappearance and death.
Kathy Burris
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hard to put down, very interesting read. Really makes you stop and think here were two educated young men starting medical school who had everything going for them, the saying Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover certainly rings true. Have recommended this book to many friends and strangers (in the checkout at the grocery store).
Nicola Davison
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Be sure to get under a cozy blanket for this book, because, not only is it chilling, but you’ll read long into the night. Kayla Hounsell distills the various perspectives in this true crime story into a cohesive and fascinating read.
James Fisher
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great compilation of all the facts, testimonies and court proceedings. Fans of true crime will love the court coverage.
Derrick Good
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Breezed thru this book in a day and a half. Great read from first time Author who I hope will produce more. Interesting reading on local happenings.
Book layed out case in good order. Hopefully someday there will be full closure for family.
Marilyn Davidson Elliott
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a fascinating read. Kayla has taken this shocking university murder trial and threaded the various components together for an easy but gut wrenching read. Definitely recommend.
Barbara Carter
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it

This book is one that I did not buy because of the cover, as I so often do. Instead I purchased this book because of wanting to learn more about what had happened concerning the murder of Taylor Samson, and the part Will Sanderson played in Taylor’s murder.
I wanted to learn more about how these two young men with such bright futures ended up in such a tragic situation, leaving one dead, the other serving a life prison sentence.
Admittedly, I had some reservations about purchasing this book, not
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't going to read this at first, but I am glad I did. The author did a good job of just stating facts and telling an unbiased narrative. There are definitely still alot of questions to be answered, but I think this provided alot more details and background than what you would find just in news excerpts.
This true story is described in detail by former CBC reporter Kayla Hounsell. She does a very good job in this portrayal of an unlikely homicide that occurred here in Halifax in 2015. It is a book that is difficult to put down once you've begun to read it. It is true, yet somehow you do not want to believe this truth until there is no longer any choice. I was surprised by Ms. Hounsell's talent!
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If real life crime stories is what you are interested in, then this a must read. Kayla's writing brings you right into the courtroom as if you had been there. She also incorporates the human side into the book where you see the subjects as more than just victim and accused. A gripping story that makes it hard to put the book down.
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The title kinda says it all. True crime that ripped through Nova Scotia in 2015 with a sensational trial two years later. This first time author does a good job putting this macabre story into a very easy-to-read, comprehensive book.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book that lays the case out for you in all the details. I quite enjoy it and was able to read it quite quickly. If you're into true crime books I think you'll like this one.
Brent Taylor
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Went in thinking I wouldn’t love this book. Boy was I wrong. Kayla doesn’t miss anything in this book. Walks you through every single step of the investigation and trial.

Extremely pleased and would highly recommend this book to anybody.
Rodney Etheridge
Just finished reading Kayla's book First Degree, and I loved it. Right from page 1!I love how she cut through the legal wranglings and made sense of a two-month complicated murder trial, bringing us right to the heart of the story, which is basically about how things can go so wrong and how so many people can be hurt with just one bad decision. I can't imagine how much research it took to cut through all the twists and turns of the case to present the emotional stories of families torn apart by ...more
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kayla Hounsell first came to my attention when I watched her on a local news television station as a reporter and news anchor. I have always thought Ms. Hounsell's reports and interviews were clear and concise. Ms. Hounsell's first book was the same. It was very well written, which made it easy to read. It explained details of the case and trial superbly. I will admit that I initially did not want to read the book, but I am glad I did. It is the first true crime book that I have read! I look ...more
Donna Alward
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this one, as the trial was a big deal here and this brought everything together. I've always liked Kayla as a reporter and she did a great job with this. #readlocal #halifax #firstdegree
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
True crime it might be, a story though... not so much. It reads like a transcript, of everything, every word, every bit of bad grammar, every detail. It just isn't interesting.
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Despite the interesting circumstances of the crime and trial depicted in the book, I found the typesetting, format, and overly simple sentence structure lacked flow, leaving me with a fractured or fragmented reading experience. My eyes easily slide off the page, and I found it difficult to hold onto a representation of any of the people discussed in the book. Even with a fair amount of detail, the style of writing gave no real story to follow, and even true crime books need a story-like ...more
Terri Durling
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This murder took place in my city and both the victim and murderer were students at Dalhousie, where I happen to work. I remember the summer this horrendous and shocking story unfolded. It had all the elements of a CSI show with interesting characters, twists and turns aplenty and finally a trial plagued with setbacks and, as it turns out, one of the longest trials Halifax history. These two young men seemingly had it all. They had normal childhoods, loving families, were intelligent, gifted, ...more
Anne Caverhill
This story is revolting to read particularly the bloody murder and the seemingly cold disposal of the body parts, still yet to be found. And the cool, calm aftermath of the accused who may have been in efficient shock as he blithely bleached his apartment, but did not seem too perturbed until....he begins to lie and then lie again and again and again.

What makes the story disappointing to read though are the questions that are left unanswered including why or how such educated, talented
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bea-2019
First you need to know, this is not my usual read. I am a fiction reader most of the time. This book caught my attention when we were getting ready to go to Book Expo this year. I couldn't imagine how a med student got caught up in a murder, so I wanted to read about it.

For me, there were too many details that didn't seem important to the case or helping me understand what happened and why it happened. I got lost a few times in the legal system - I do think this book should be a required read
Jenn Cotterill
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was both an easy and difficult read; easy because of descriptive writing and natural flow, difficult in intensity.

Hounsell uses a unique blend of facts, quotes and narrative to bring this tragedy to life for the reader. She paints such a clear picture that at times I felt as if I was in the courtroom with her.

I especially respect the attention given to the victim and his family and friends throughout the book. Although difficult to comprehend, the actions of the accused / convicted
Dana Osmond
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian
Kayla has done an excellent job of weaving the story from the headlines, with the back story from one of the most heinous murders in Halifax's modern history. We get to know who Taylor Samson was, understand his life, and the realities of the drug trade in the university population of Halifax. Both victim and killer were intelligent, educated men, and so it was also a bit of a wake up call.
I appreciated Kayla's voice as an experienced reporter/journalist and her attempt to weave the facts with
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on a very touchy topic. Its a case that all locals and probably most Canadians heard so much about but but in bits and bobs over a long time span. It was so interesting and heartbreaking and frustrating to read it all in a clear timeline with details I had never before known.
The book is very well written and leaves you feeling disgusted with the accused based solely on evidence and facts and not biase of the author.
chelsey buggie
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A true page turner, this book was well written and appeared unbiased. The author managed to simplify months of complicated court proceedings into easily digestible chapters, perhaps a bit heavy on the forensics aspect but it didn’t really detract much from the reading experience. I also enjoyed the post trial case follow ups at the end of the book.
Janet Resk
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First Degree was an intriguing book that swept me away. I could not stop reading it, then regretted not making it last longer. Fascinating, well-written, local crime story with background & details unknown to the general public who may have followed this case/trial in the media. Looking forward to seeing more from this author in the future.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well-written, engaging read. The book pulls together information reported in the media at the time of the trial and info that wasn't. Kayla Hounsell does a good job explaining some of the more technical legal stuff as well.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought the case was well written with good detail and unbiased. Although it seemed to drift in sections and got difficult to follow.
Was not a quick read as I got bored as sometimes facts and details were repeated.
Darryl C.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book, and the Author did a nice job of weaving together a complex case. Although I followed the case closely, the book revealed a few nuggets that had puzzled me. Grab a comfortable sofa and you’ll get into it very quickly.
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Kayla Hounsell is an award-winning journalist who covered the murder trial of William Sandeson. She is now the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's National Reporter for the Maritime provinces. Based in Halifax, and originally from Newfoundland, she has also worked in Ottawa, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Rwanda, South Sudan, Liberia and the United Kingdom. First Degree: From Med School to Murder is her ...more