The Crime Readers' Association

‘The Thief, the Wife and the Canoe’ by David Leigh

4th May 2022

The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe is the behind-the-scenes account of a true event of audacious deception and coercion, offering an unprecedented insight into a mind-boggling story that gripped the nation – and into the inscrutable minds of ‘Canoe Man’ John Darwin and his wife Anne, his long-suffering partner in crime.

Drowning in debt and facing almost certain bankruptcy, John Darwin did the unthinkable – he paddled out to sea in his red canoe and disappeared. After a massive search and rescue operation failed to find his body, he was assumed dead, lost in the bleak North Sea.

But everything was far from what it seemed.

Nearly six years later, after John miraculously returned from the dead with a strange tale of ‘amnesia’ and sporting a suspicious golden tan, the police and the Press were desperate to discover the truth behind his remarkable resurrection.

Journalist David Leigh was dispatched to Panama, where he tracked down John’s wife, Anne, who had started a secretive new life with the insurance money claimed from her husband’s ‘death’. But what lay behind her decision to move to Central America, thousands of miles away from her family and friends? The truth would gradually unravel during an astonishing week of jaw-dropping revelations.

Leigh’s book was the inspiration for the recent ITV drama starring Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan.

The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe tells the story of surely the most outrageous fraud of modern times.’ – Actress Monica Dolan

‘David Leigh steers us masterfully through one of the most enthralling true crime stories I have ever read.’ – Chris Lang, writer and creator of the critically acclaimed and award-winning Unforgotten

Find out more about David Leigh and his books here.

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