Friday, 4 September 2015

October 2015 - First Issue

Canadian Mystery Reviews appeared in the Hamilton Spectator for 8 years, the sole remaining fiction review column that featured the talents of Canadian writers of true crime and mystery intrigue. And then there were none. But reviewer Don Graves kept receiving books, kept reading and kept reviewing.

Now Canadian Mystery Reviews has a new home thanks to the sponsorship of A Different Drummer Books and design support from Alison Bruce (whose review below was written long before this website got off the ground).

DON’T FORGET YOU LOVE ME. (An Ellis Portal Mystery)
By Rosemary Aubert.
Carrick Publishing.  

Trade paperback $14.99
eBook $4.99

It was as if he’d never left. One of Canada’s finest mystery character…"Your Honour", the reclaimed judge who walked out of the Don River valley and into the hearts of reader. Judge Ellis Portal is back and none too soon.

All the awards that author, Rosemary Aubert has won…deserved in spades. The comments about her tackling big city issues, a character with moral depth and dignity, again all true, but beyond that is a writer who gently draws you into a story, wraps you in a strong, yet delicate web and doesn’t let go.

Don’t Forget you Love Me begins with the poignant conclusion of a wonderful love story, Ellis Portal and Queenie. Portal makes a last promise to Queenie, find out who murdered the Juicer, a homeless man from that, not to be counted, collateral damage mass of humanity lost in a large city, Toronto. The Juicer who earned his name by existing on orange juice.

His Honour is comfortable now living in a condo and helping his son run a shelter in the Don for the homeless. His contacts are still there, some a bit rusty and some who might have climbed the ladder too high to remember why they are there. His Honour’s critical thinking skills are there. Author Aubert’s special turn of phrase describing the setting, the good, bad and ugly parts of the city and the surgically precise skill at driving towards a climax make for a rich read.

At the end, I couldn’t help but wonder if Portal would again disappear into the Valley. I hope not as he has so many stories left to tell.

By Linwood Barclay
Doubleday Canada  

Paperback $22.95

Out of work reporter, David Harwood, with son and twenty years in, overweight, doughnut obsessed detective, Gary Duckworth, play like they’re two sides of the same coin. One is official, the other amateur. From there, Author, Linwood Barclay spins an award-in-waiting tale of small town evil. Barclay explores how evil can sprout from innocence and end up all the more destructive.

Read the scene about the chocolate banana bread interrogation and you’ll discover why this author’s writing is not to be denied. Broken Promise marks a departure from his earlier thrillers. Broken Promise offers a more complex puzzle. The boundary is still small town America but the jigsaw has ragged edges and colours that don’t help. But you can’t help but feel the pieces clicking before you can rationalize it.

It’s big cast story with no cardboard characters. But there’s no flipping back and forth to remember who’s who. You read, you sense something clicking, you turn the page and it feels real.

There’s a casual but deeply intense energy about Broken Promise that propels the story forward to a climax you don’t see coming.

Read another gem; this time the catalyst is pork chops served with rice or potatoes. What’s really on the plate is a scene with Harwood’s parents, Don and Arlene and how tender can be gruff. Stripped to the essence of what long term love and faith in each other can be, tested and found sound.

Broken Promise is storytelling as storytelling should be.

A BODY GUARD TO REMEMBER (Book 1, Men in Uniform)
By Alison Bruce
Lachesis Publishing
ebook $4.99
Trade paperback $14.99

Nothing like a great opening line to set the hook: “It started with a dead body on my living room floor.” And from there A Body Guard to Remember is a catch worth reading with a lively mix of colourful characters, murder, indeed on a living room floor, cops, protectors in various good looking postures, a plot with a neat climax twist and budding romance…right here in Canada.

Bruce’s grasp of partnering two genres into one well-paced novel is well known and is as sharp as never in A Body Guard to Remember. Action, quick and forceful. Action, gentle and affirming. Add a plot worthy of a seasoned crime writer and a supporting cast with struggles and dreams galore makes for a, "I’ll just read a bit more," and you’ll find as I did, you can’t put it down.

If A Body Guard to Remember is book one, Men in Uniform, I can’t wait to read book 2.

By Melodie Campbell
Orca Rapid Reads
Paperback $9.95
ebook $3.79

The Artful Goddaughter is a novella with legs and laughter. International award winning author, Melodie Campbell’s  third Goddaughter mystery is the best of a winning trio of stories. The second one, The Goddaughter’s Revenge recently took home Canada’s Arthur Ellis award for best novella and America’s Derringer award.

Strong plot, great zingers and imagery that draws you in and just doesn’t let go. Gina Gallo, the leggy beauty, about to wed inherits a stash of cash from her deceased uncle that comes with a condition…reverse an old crime with a new one and get him to his final reward. And she’s off with her crew of relatives anyone would love to hide. The scam is delightful, the plot, setting and dialogue move with page turning intensity which makes the Artful Author’s third crime ride a blast and a laugh.

By Mark Sproule-Jones
Strategic Book Publishing and Right Co.

Author Mark Sproule-Jones has written a corker of a debut from the preface to the surprising twisted climax. It is, as the author suggests, “a fast-paced novella about duplicity, cunning and sex” set right in Ottawa where politicians slip and fall as often as skaters crash on the Rideau rink.

Some of the Whole Truth takes the reader behind the scenes as the Prime Minister learns of the Americans hacking into Canada’s security and the politically motivated revenge that targets the “smooth-talking womanizer” President. We soon learn that both leaders have challenges with closed office doors and libidos.

The plot is deliciously devious, the dialogue revealing of the machinations that consume our Governments all in the name of democracy. All wrapped up in style that keep you turning the pages with a smile.

The ending is a prize winning jolt and polishes off a novella definitely worth reading. Some of the Whole Truth is a romp through the back rooms on the Hill.

These reviews may be used for promotion at the discretion of the author.
For information about sending a book for review, contact Don at:

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