Pat Capponi



A Dana Leoni Mystery

“A most unusual original heroine, and a welcome addition to the genre.”

Joy Fielding

“No one can portray the marginalized as well as Pat Capponi... clearly the author knows these people and that comes through on each page.”

Catherine Gildiner

“Capponi tells the story with the end, I was really rooting for Leoni and her ragtag gang of unlikely detectives.”


“... the novel is laced with the sort of wry humour that is Capponi’s signature survival tool.”

Toronto Star

A fresh and authentic voice that will captivate mystery lovers–rich in humour and suffused with compassion

Dana Leoni thought a rough rooming house in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood would be a retreat of sorts from her traumatic past. She is devastated when one of her housemates—a beloved woman among the marginalized and the mad—is found dead.

Police quickly run out of leads leaving a frustrated Dana and her rag-tag posse of housemates no choice but to take matters into their own hands by “going detective.”

This gang of detectives, though, can’t synchronize their watches because they have only one watch among them; they can’t tail suspects because they can’t drive; they can’t even tail someone by bus because they have no bus tickets. But these obstacles don’t subdue their resolve or their long-suppressed anger as they struggle to find out who murdered their vulnerable friend.

The clues lead them to an unscrupulous landlord who has forcibly confined 15 women in brutal captivity to steal their meagre subsistence welfare pensions.

Last Stop Sunnyside is an incredible journey with an unforgettable group of detectives.

HarperCollins Canada 2006



In 1992, with the publication of her acclaimed memoir, Upstairs in the Crazy House, Pat Capponi emerged as the voice for the impoverished mentally ill. The ‘crazy house’ is a place they send people who are discharged from psychiatric wards and have nowhere to go. If anyone leaves, it is usually to the street or the grave. Pat was sent there, but she alone left for a small room of her own.

In this book, she is an explorer into the roots of madness. Surprisingly often, the causes are social. Horrendous, inexplicable family abuse is one route to a psychotic break. When the affliction is physiological, social isolation and incorrect medications intensify problems. Self-medication or addictions lead to crisis. Depression so dark that it prompts self-cutting, is a bewildering and anguished expression of unfathomable pain.

And yet there is hope. Pat uses her own story and the stories of other brave souls who challenge themselves and the system to improve their own lives.

Penguin Canada / Spring 2003



"Capponi proves an intelligent and compassionate observer, especially when chronicling the experiences of minorities within the police culture...This is terrific stuff."

- The Globe &Mail

This is a rare glimpse of the people behind the badge, a surprisingly diverse police force with more women and visible minorities than ever before. With an in-depth look at different approaches to the job and a variety of perceptions of policing, Capponi exposes a system that is flawed, promising and deeply human.

Penguin Canada 2000



An Intimate Portrait of Canada’s Poor

Outspoken social activist Pat Capponi travels from coast to coast to investigate the lives and communities of this country’s poor and examine the changes that have beset the disadvantaged in this new era of reduced social programs and “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” legislation.

Hard-hitting, gritty, but also hopeful, The War at Home examines the neglected margins of society and the human face of a changing Canada.

Pat Capponi is one of Canada’s most provocative social activists and best-selling author of Upstairs In the Crazy House and Dispatches from the Poverty Line. She has recently been appointed to the Board of Trustees for the newly merged addiction and mental health center in Toronto.

Penguin CAN/99




Pat Capponi's life has been spent moving between two very different worlds. As a social activist, counsellor, government employee and published author, Pat Capponi has moved through the world of privilege. Now, unemployed, a victim of budget cuts, she finds herself once again not just working with the poor but joining their ranks.

In Dispatches From The Poverty Line, Capponi continues her account of life at the edge of a society that is quickly dismantling its social safety net. In beautiful prose, Capponi explodes stereotypes about the poor with her wit and sensitivity, adding a human voice to the statistics that we read about daily.

Penguin Canada CAN/97




"Pick a superlative. 'Brilliant' will do. So will 'original'. Upstairs in the Crazy House deserves all the prized adjectives that hail the best books."

- The Toronto Star

We see them everywhere -- and we don't really see them. They are the homeless, though they may be temporarily sheltered, unable to function in society.

Pat Capponi was one of them, disabled by depression, with no place to go after three months in hospital. Government largesse gave her a tiny disability allowance and the name of a boarding house where profiteer owners crammed 70 people into space for 50.

She lived there for three years, warehoused with other unloved and abandoned derelicts, winos, and demon-plagued psychotics. Her ability to see them, to care for them, and to love them, proved to be her salvation. Of all the residents we meet, only Capponi was able to pull herself out.

With amazing courage, she managed to surmount her own fragility to become, in her quiet way, an anchor and a bridge for others on the outside.

Her powerful, simply-written memoir opens in the dining room of the boarding house. Sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, it is never grim or depressing.

Penguin Canada CAN/92
Film in development


Pat Capponi lived for three years in a boarding house similar to the one she portrays here. And she too began to advocate for her housemates. In the process, she became a leading mental health care advocate and author of several bestselling books, including Upstairs in the Crazy House. Pat Capponi lives in Toronto, where she is working on the second installment in her Dana Leoni mystery series.