Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Issue 5 - April 2016


By Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen Press $18.95
As an avid mystery reader and reviewer I’m pleased to see author Vicki Delany’s latest Molly Smith novel, Unreasonable Doubt.
The writing feels real: a man arrives in Trafalgar after being exonerated for a murder conviction. 25 years, full sentence, no parole because he refuses to admit his guilt. And Walter Desmond returns with a big question to ask.
Strong material for a novel: pain, revenge, fear, 25 years of buried guilt, dishonesty, police incompetency. The town is fearful and the police perplexed.
Humans respond, react, take cover and excuse themselves and author Delany weaves a strong portrait of a town’s psyche coming to terms with justice delayed, perverted or delivered.
Good to see Constable Molly Smith on the job again.

By Barry Finlay
Keep on Climbing $19.95
The cover paints thriller. Instinctively you figure that all’s well at the end, so it’ll be the ride that counts. Count this a strong thriller debut from author Barry Finlay.
The pace grabs hold. Whether the mild-mannered accountant Mason Seaforth could actually pull of what’s at stake depends on the colour, the energy and dialogue of the story telling. The Vanishing Wife is convincing.
The mis-adventure begins in Flordia and ends up in Ottawa. Proof that a bit of murder and mayhem that’s not political can actually happen in Ottawa with an assist from a casino just across the provincial border.

The Vanishing Wife is an enjoyable read, leaving me to think that another one would do nicely.

A Life in Newspapers
Edited by Ed Piwowarczyk with the collaboration of E. Joan O'Callaghan
Carrick Publishing $21.95
The name is your first clue: O’Callaghan, as Irish as it comes and I can’t recall ever meeting a dull one. Add Maverick to the title and you know the ride will be a free-for-all.
The life he writes about is gone. A life in newspapers is a rough-edged existence fueled by craft, deep digging and polished execution. A recipe gone from today’s press.
The first person writing is bold, blunt, rib-tickling with more than a touch of cut-throat adjective. Can’t provide an example because every time I think of one, another one pops up demanding a voice.
A memoir is expected to stir our own thoughts. A Life in Newspapers is a joy ride from half a century in Canadian journalism. It’s a story worth reading twice, once through just doesn’t quite afford Mr. O’Callaghan his just desserts.

By Gail Bowen
McClelland & Stewart $32.00
When you open a Gail Bowen novel, you’re aware you’re in the hands of an artist, a word, image building, story-telling artist.
Canada’s luck to have its fair share of these special authors. Some call them our A listers. I envisage these artist-of-words sitting around a round table of creative excellence. Gail Bowen sits in the centre. What’s Left Behind supports this image.   
Zack is Regina’s new mayor. A referendum on urban growth is weeks away. The polecats turn ugly. The Kilbourn-Shreves are having a wedding. Greed, revenge and history collide into murder. There’s lots of collateral damage—innocence and conscience take a big hit.
A Bowen story grows from within the people, their strengths, love, hatred, fear and partnerships. The crime comes from within that core: all sorts of negative, self-serving energy fueled by greed and arrogance.  What’s Left Behind clearly offers a belief in humanity, despite our shortcomings. It is a must-read from this reviewer’s perspective. 

By Inger Ash Wolfe
McClelland & Stewart $24.95
Inger Ash Wolfe is the pen name for the talented novelist, playwright and poet, Michael Redhill. Add a polished, insightful and top drawer mystery novelist to that list of achievements. Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef's fourth masterful adventure, The Night Bell attests to author Redhill/Wolfe’s creative genius.
The story comes complete with a map of Westmuir County and the small town of Port Dundas. Have your fun with figuring out the real location. But the map serves to alert you to the reality of a small town in semi-dignified repose stabbed with a profit-at-all-costs new development, Tournament Acres. It’s a "don’t buy", for the building is happening near the abandoned site of the Dublin House of Boys. (Seems there are a lot of golf courses vulnerable to this re-invention.)
The remains of boys appear close to the new homes. No names, no records, buried in the 1960’s on the Dublin Home, soon to be a golf course site. Hazel remembers it. She also remembers the disappearance of a girl: Hazel’s brother was a suspect.
Forty-plus years is a long time to bury evil, put it in one’s mental and emotional past and carry on. But remains have a way of opening wounds and reviving old horrors.
The Night Bell is the best of the four Micallef novels, each one growing in strength. This one not only tells a powerful story but gets under your skin as well. It delivers the emotional energy that can rock a small town, large town and city to it’s core. This reviewer wants another one. Hazel Micallef is a police procedural in a class by itself.

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