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On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver's Missing Women is a finalist for the Charles Taylor Prize. ((Charles Taylor Prize))

Stevie Cameron's book on serial killer Robert Pickton and his victims and a biography of Mordecai Richler are among the finalists for the $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize, the annual celebration of Canadian literary non-fiction.

The prize jury announced this year's five nominees at Toronto's King Edward Hotel on Tuesday morning.

Author and investigative journalist Cameron is nominated for On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver's Missing Women, her exploration of the victims, the Pickton trial and the effects on the victims' families.

Meanwhile, Charles Foran is a contender for his praised Richler biography Mordecai, The Life and Times. Cameron and Foran are also in the running for the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-fiction (to be awarded Jan. 31).

Rounding out the Charles Taylor short list are:

  • Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven by Ross King.
  • The Geography of Arrival by George Sipos.
  • The Love Queen of Malabar: Memoir of a Friendship with Kamala Das by Merrily Weisbord.

The five contenders were chosen from 153 submissions. This year's three-member jury — literature professor Eva-Marie Kroller and writers David Macfarlane and Neil Bissoondath — is the same trio who presided over the inaugural award in 2000.

"I had all types of criteria in my mind going in: about what non-fiction should be, about what kind of subjects should be dealt with," Macfarlane told CBC News.

"I have to admit that, in the end, it always comes down to what books I most enjoyed reading — and that's not meant as just a glib answer. I think books that I enjoy reading are books that create worlds and I enter into those worlds and I lose myself in those worlds."

The shortlisted authors will be celebrated at a luncheon gala in Toronto on Feb. 14, with the winner receiving $25,000 and the remaining finalists $2,000 each.

Established in memory of the late writer and former Globe and Mail correspondent, the Charles Taylor Prize recognizes a Canadian author who has written a book that "demonstrates a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style and a subtlety of thought and perception."

Past winners have included Carol Shields, J.B. MacKinnon and Ian Brown.