CANADIAN MYSTERIES REVIEW. DON GRAVES.
We’re changed: no more enjoying the Brott Festival live. No more
cheering the Ti-Cats. No more trips to Toronto’s Broadway.
Isolation because the Premier lives by “do what I say, not as I
do”. Matters will improve, so keep the 6 feet away, mask drill.
I’ve enjoyed the TV, the riveting daily CBC updates. I enjoy
counting the “dah” sounds escaping from camera frightened
health experts. Library return slots accept. Some local stores
offer curb side pickup. I’m using some online book sellers; find
what I like and see if they can get it. The last time I used an
online service, I paid up front and 7 weeks later no delivery.
Covid 19 has been particularly frustrating for Canadian
publishers and authors. The traditional book launch in stores and
libraries is gone. It’s especially hard for our local authors. I’ve
chosen 4 Spring publications, each one a potential award
winning piece of writing. So, in no special order.
RUNNING FROM THE DEAD.
by. Mike Knowles.
Hamilton author, Mike Knowles has written seven previous
novels, each one with a unique preceptive on the Private
Detective. P.I. Sam Jones’ six year search for a missing child
ends with gunshots in a basement. Jones couldn’t admit that all
those years ended with nothing to show for it. He’s in the
basement of his life now with no prospects until he receives a
note on a bathroom door—a second chance for redemption.
Thirteen words from a troubled young girl leads Jones from a
picturesque Ontario town to big city corners best left dark.
The dialogue reveals the intense and awkward challenge for both
P.I. and victims. Settings are rich with the reality of how young
people can lose their way, feel trapped and sink. Jones is
compassionate yet blunt with the black edged pain that drives
young people to do what they do. All of Knowles seven books
are a path to ‘Running from the Dead’ which is the best private
detective novel I’ve read in some time. A second read offers new
ways of enjoying yourself. This one deserves an award.
A DEVIOUS DAME… A Max Dexter Mystery,
By; Chris Laing.
Author. Chris Laing knows his Hamilton in the forties, where to
eat, how to talk, captures the essence of post WW11 Ontario city
with a growing industry, local mafia, and where in the east end to
It’s 1948, Spring in the Hammer and private eye, Max Dexter and
his easy-on-the eyes partner, Isabel O’Brien set out to help a
young, left in the streets to survive kid, abandoned by his mother
Ida Lucas. A hostess, slick and well dressed, she does well to
keep the local gents happy. Hamilton’s new mob boss gets
wrapped up in the search in not a productive way.
I’ve read each Laing story. He really does know his town. After
the fist novel, I challenged him about missing out The Chicken
Roost only to learn that this well researched author knew that the
Roost arrived 2 years after this adventure. So he keeps writing,
keeps the Hammer a thriving action hub for post war Canucks
seeking a thrill and paying the rent. Maybe I’ll get my seat at the
Roost in the next one.
By; Ross Pennie.
Hamilton author, Dr. Ross Pennie has written another page turner
in what is likely the most challenging sub genre in the mystery/
crime library. He writes from experience as a doctor specializing
in infectious disease with medical accuracy wrapped into riveting
fiction through relationships, setting, dialogue, that thin line
between adventure, crime and compassion. The result is author,
Pennie at the top of his game with each novel stirring more
deeply than the one before.
Pennie jostles 2 stories in Bitter Paradise with a clever conclusion
woven to satisfy the reader. Dr. Zol Szabo and a partner do
battle with a vaccine resistant polio that is striking Hamilton with
deathly force. The intensity is palpable and reminiscent of the real
life Covid 19.
Among the immigrant pool rushing for a new life in Hamilton is
trauma surgeon, D. Hosam Khousa and his family. This once
prominent doctor turns to cutting hair to survive. The collapse
and race towards death begins when another Syrian is slashed to
death in the barbershop.
The paths of this story merge while they drive toward their own
destiny. It’s polished writing that drives the reader to ‘read just
one more chapter.’ I gladly fell into that trap and now await the
next story in this riveting medical mystery series.
A MATCH MADE FOR MURDER.
by; Iona Whishaw
Touchwood . $16.95
One of Canada’s leading mystery story-tellers has published her
7th novel, “A Match for Murder”. Her complex plots with unique
twists and turns once again offers readers a compelling voyage
into setting, dialogue, character and that elusive quality called,
“I’ll just read another chapter.” Each novel reaches out to the
reader based on a post WW11 young woman character, Lane
Winslow who leaves England for a remote, tiny village of King’s
Cove in northern B.C.
A Match for Murder finds her new husband, Inspector Darling
celebrating marriage to Lane in Arizona. In the midst of
celebration Lane is witness to a murder. Despite the honeymoon
setting both Lane and hew husband find themselves caught in a
complex and guilt ridden murder. All the while, back in King’s
Cove, newly minted Sergeant Ames investigates vandalism that
is a cover-up for a crime much more dense and evil.
The story is vintage Whishaw. From plot to dialogue and setting,
the story weaves a thoroughly complex yet elegantly portrayed
mystery from post WW11. “Just read another chapter” and you’ll
discover what I mean.