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True Crime General

The Billionaire Murders

The Mysterious Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman

by (author) Kevin Donovan

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Oct 2019
General, Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology, Rich & Famous
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
    List Price

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A top journalist crosses the yellow tape to investigate a shocking high-society crime.

Billionaires, philanthropists, socialites . . . victims. Barry and Honey Sherman appeared to lead charmed lives. But the world was shocked in late 2017 when their bodies were found in a bizarre tableau in their elegant Toronto home. First described as murder-suicide — belts looped around their necks, they were found seated beside their basement swimming pool — police later ruled it a staged, targeted double murder. Nothing about the case made sense to friends of the founder of one of the world’s largest generic pharmaceutical firms and his wife, a powerhouse in Canada’s charity world. Together, their wealth has been estimated at well over $4.7 billion.

There was another side to the story. A strategic genius who built a large generic drug company — Apotex Inc. — Barry Sherman was a self-described workaholic, renowned risk-taker, and disruptor during his fifty-year career. Regarded as a generous friend by many, Sherman was also feared by others. He was criticized for stifling academic freedom and using the courts to win at all costs. Upset with building issues at his mansion, he sued and recouped millions from tradespeople. At the time of his death, Sherman had just won a decades-old legal case involving four cousins who wanted 20 percent of his fortune.

Toronto Star investigative journalist Kevin Donovan chronicles the unsettling story from the beginning, interviewing family members, friends, and colleagues, and sheds new light on the Shermans’ lives and the disturbing double murder. Deeply researched and authoritative, The Billionaire Murders is a compulsively readable tale of a strange and perplexing crime.

About the author

Kevin Donovan is an investigative reporter and editor at the Toronto Star. A thirty-year veteran of the paper, he has won two Governor General's Awards (Michener) for public service journalism, three National Newspaper Awards, and three Canadian Association of Journalists Awards. He is also the author of ORNGE: The Star Investigation that Broke the Story.

Donovan is a trusted and experienced investigative journalist who has grown both journalistically and personally through the writing of this book. In this book, he is, in some ways, the everyman, who grows in his understanding of the complexities of discussing sexual assault.

Kevin Donovan's profile page


  • Nominated, Heritage Toronto Award - Historical Writing: Book
  • Short-listed, Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction

Excerpt: The Billionaire Murders: The Mysterious Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman (by (author) Kevin Donovan)


Wrong Turn

On the morning of Friday, December 15, 2017, family, friends, and colleagues of Barry and Honey Sherman woke, shook off sleep, and set about their normal routines. But for some, a nagging thought persisted. Something was amiss. An email not returned, an empty desk in the executive office, a vacant seat at a charity boardroom table. At 50 Old Colony Road, in Toronto’s suburban North York, snow was softly dust­ing the ground, melting quickly on the heated driveway and obscuring any footprints that may have been made on the front lawn or unheated steps over the previous two days.

It had been cold, ten degrees below freezing, and as the sun rose behind clouds, it promised to be another grey, wintry day in Canada’s biggest city. Many of the people who owned homes on the street had already flown south to escape the cold weather, so it was not unusual at this time of year for a house in the neigh­bourhood to be quiet. At the rear of the house was an outdoor pool, long closed for the season, a tennis court surrounded by a fence, and two patios. In a basement underneath the tennis court, stretching north on the property, was a lap pool rarely used by the homeowners. In front of the house, one vehicle was parked on the circular driveway, a light gold Lexus SUV that was ten years old. Judging by the snow lining its fenders and windows, it had been there at least overnight. Beside it, on the left, was a long bed of snowball hydrangeas, their withered brown flower heads perked up by little hats of fresh snow. A ramp to the right of the Lexus led down to a closed garage door that opened into a six-car underground garage nestled in the basement of the house with utility and recreation rooms on the ends closest to the road, and the lap pool at the far north end.

At 8:30 a.m., two people arrived on a clockwork schedule: a cleaning lady on her regular Friday visit, and a woman who came twice a week to water the plants in the home. The cleaning lady parked in the centre of the circular drive. The woman who came to water the plants trudged along the street, passing the large For Sale sign at the curb. The house had been on the market three weeks with an asking price of $6.9 million. Just the day before, a Toronto magazine had revealed publicly for the first time that the property was for sale: “Pharma Titan Barry Sherman is selling his modern North York mansion.”

Inside 50 Old Colony, the woman watering the orchids and other plants filled her can and went from room to room. The cleaning lady got busy as well. Hanukkah had begun the previ­ous Tuesday evening and included in her assigned duties today was helping Honey prepare potato latkes, which she would cook later that day at the home of one of the Sherman children. The main floor was 3,600 square feet, anchored by a grand entrance topped with a chandelier and a curved staircase heading up to the second floor. The six-bedroom house, including the expan­sive lower level, was well over 12,000 square feet in total.

Both women began their chores on the main floor. While they were working, a phone rang. The cleaning lady followed the sound into a powder room, where she found an iPhone lying on the tiled floor. By the time she picked up the phone it had stopped ringing. When she moved upstairs, she noticed that the bed in the master bedroom had not been slept in and that the room was unusually tidy. Normally, on cleaning day, the bed was unmade and clothes from the night before were casu­ally strewn on the bed or a chair. The cleaning lady busied her­self dusting surfaces and picture frames.

Around 10 a.m., Elise Stern arrived. Dark-haired, with a thin, angular face, Stern was a twenty-year veteran real estate agent who shared the listing for the house with Judi Gottlieb, who was the senior realtor on the file. Just the other day, Gottlieb had shown the house to two men who struck her as odd ducks. But in her business you met all kinds.

Editorial Reviews

Shortlisted for the 2020 Arthur Ellis Prize for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing
Nominated for the 2021 Heritage Toronto Book Awards

National Bestseller
“[Donovan] provides glimpses of the family tensions that boiled over after the murders. He smartly splices the narrative of the murders and their aftermath—where concrete facts remain sparse—with chapters on Barry and Honey’s lives and the rise of Mr. Sherman’s company, Apotex. These details paint a textured but sympathetic portrait of the workaholic, litigious Barry—a billionaire whose preferred breakfast included Frosted Flakes—and his friendly but strong-willed wife.” The Globe and Mail

“Fascinating insights.” —Maclean’s
“. . . the book every Canadian murderino has been waiting for . . .” Vancouver Is Awesome

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