Pub Date: February 15, 2022

Author: Wayne Hoffman

Who was behind the brutal murder of my great-grandmother?
wondered Wayne Hoffman, a New York City-based journalist and novelist. The crime wasn’t just a family legend—it made headlines across Canada in 1913—but her killer had never been found. In The End of Her, Hoffman meticulously researches this century-old tragedy, while facing another: his mother’s decline from Alzheimer’s. Weaving back and forth between past and present, Hoffman invokes in dramatic detail the life and death of his immigrant great-grandmother in Winnipeg’s North End, and his mother’s downward spiral. In the process, he discovers an extended family that has been scattered across thousands of miles for a hundred years.


“Journalist Hoffman (Hard and two other novels) makes his nonfiction debut with a riveting account of his dual efforts to care for his aging mother and crack a century-old unsolved murder. During the early morning hours of Aug. 1, 1913, someone entered the Winnipeg, Manitoba, home of Hoffman’s great-grandparents, Sarah and David Feinstein, and shot Sarah as she slept in her bed. The killing was even more horrific as Sarah’s two-year-old daughter, Fanny, was in the bed at the time, and Anne, an infant, was in a nearby crib. No motive was ever established, and no one was charged, and though the crime was front-page news in Canada at the time, it fell into obscurity. Hoffman only pursued it after hearing a version of the shooting from his mother, Ethel, who described the circumstances differently. According to Ethel, Sarah was on her front porch, breastfeeding her baby, when she was shot by someone in a passing car. Hoffman makes the details of his dogged research vivid as he strives to reconcile Ethel’s story with the reporting at the time, and his conclusions about the murder are convincing. Meanwhile, he movingly recounts his mother’s increasing memory loss and overall decline. This is a unique addition to the cold case subgenre, and a powerful mix of true crime and family memoir.” 

Publishers Weekly (starred review)


“A murder wrapped like a delicious knish around a familial love story. The End of Her is the story of a journalist attempting to solve the long-ago puzzle of who shot his great-grandmother in her bed in small-town Winnipeg in 1913. But the why of it is at the heart of this beautiful book. Wayne Hoffman throws himself into this old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting (a true education for budding journalists) because he wants to give his mother the gift of her history before he loses her completely to dementia. The book’s portrayal of Alzheimer’s is horrible and hilarious; Wayne’s voice is warm, deeply loving, drily funny and thankfully unsentimental.” 

—Marjorie Ingall, author of Mamaleh Knows Best


“This is one of those rare, fine books that gives you two of the dearest gifts in literature: a story so consuming you forget time, and an author with the gift to spin, from these supposedly ordinary lives, a profound chronicle of identity, family, memory, and love—and suspense, too.”

—Boris Fishman, author of Savage Feast


“Wayne Hoffman has produced a fascinating and compelling story of his family history. Meticulously researched and skillfully written, he brilliantly weaves together the mystery of his great-grandmother’s murder long ago in Winnipeg, his nearly decade long search to find the truth about this tragic event, and his joyous and poignant relationship with his ailing mother that inspires him and propels his quest. In particular, his recreation of Winnipeg’s impoverished immigrant quarter during first decades of the twentieth century and the various complexities that shaped the lives of his great-grandparents and relatives is an absorbing tale rich with detail and vivid personalities.”

—Allan Levine, Winnipeg historian and author of Seeking the Fabled City: The Canadian Jewish Experience