The End of Her: Racing Against Alzheimer's to Solve a Murder

The End of Her, Wayne Hoffman’s nonfiction debut, is a true crime memoir about his efforts to uncover the facts about his great-grandmother’s murder, while watching his own mother’s decline from dementia. One advance reviewer called the book “a murder mystery wrapped like a delicious knish around a familial love story,” while a historian praised it as “meticulously researched and skillfully written.”

Synopsis

When Wayne Hoffman’s mother was growing up, she heard an unlikely story about her grandmother—that she’d been killed by a random sniper. Wayne never truly believed the story, but when his mother started to lose her memory in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, he decided to find out what really happened to his great-grandmother. A veteran journalist, he thought it would take a few days, maybe weeks, of research.

It took years.

The basic facts came fairly quickly: His great-grandmother—a Jewish immigrant from Russia raising four young children in Winnipeg’s Hebrew Colony—was, in fact, murdered more than a century ago. The crime made headlines across Canada, in English and Yiddish newspapers, and was the city’s only unsolved murder that year.

But the story behind the murder took much longer to piece together, and the more questions Wayne had, the fewer answers his mother could remember. Why was she killed? How did it affect her children—and their children? And, of course, who did it? He hoped other relatives might know more, but they had been scattered and out of contact for many decades; trying to piece the family back together would prove its own challenge. And throughout it all, Wayne’s mother continued her heartbreaking decline from Alzheimer’s.

The End of Her is a story about Wayne and his mother. And her mother. And her mother. It spans generations and continents, from a Ukrainian shtetl to a ranch in Saskatchewan, Winnipeg’s North End to downtown Jersey City, suburban Maryland to a hamlet in the Catskills, Greenwich Village to the top of Masada.