Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Canadian eh?

By R.J. Harlick

Okay let’s have it. Your favourite end-of-year reading recommendations.

I’ve read a lot of good books this year, both crime fiction and general fiction. It’s a difficult decision, but here are five I enjoyed. I am concentrating on books by Canadian authors, since they are less known to readers to the south.

Warlight by multi-award winning author Michael Ondaatje, best known for his book The English Patient of movie fame. Though classed as Canlit, Warlight is in fact a rip-roaring mystery story. Set in Britain at the end of the Second World War, it is about two siblings, fourteen year old Nathaniel and his older sister Rachel, who have been left in the care of a mysterious character by the name of The Moth when their parents move to Singapore.  The story revolves around the real identity of The Moth and the cohorts he relies on to help with the care of the children and the mysterious endeavours of their parents, particularly their mother, who eventually returns to England with little explanation for her absence.  Beautifully written, it will capture your attention until the surprise ending.
No Place for Wolverines by David Butler, which is the second in the Jenny Wilson mystery series. The first book, Full Curl, was last year’s winner of the Author Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel. Jenny is a no-nonsense park warden for Banff National Park. Needless to say, the Rocky Mountain setting is fabulous, one to which I particularly relate after spending a delightful time in the same mountain range this past summer.  In No Place for Wolverines, Jenny is intent on uncovering the real reason behind a project to build a ski resort in the pristine and undeveloped mountains of Yoho National Park. 

Full Disclosure by Beverley McLachlan, the former Chief Justice of Canada, was another mystery I enjoyed. Expecting a mediocre book, whose only merit was in the status of the author, I was pleasantly surprised. A legal mystery/thriller, it stars defense attorney, Jilly Truitt and is set in ‘the gritty streets’ of Vancouver. Jilly takes on the difficult and controversial defense of a wealthy man, who everyone is convinced is guilty. All the evidence points at his guilt. As she endeavours to unravel the lies, she uncovers a long suppressed secret that affects not only the case but her also. 

I quite enjoy Brenda Chapman’s Stonechild and Rouleau series and found Bleeding Darkness, her latest and fifth in the series, continues the engaging story telling established by the earlier books. Set in Kingston Ontario, Detective Kala Stonechild and Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau are members of the major crimes unit of the local police force. Bleeding Darkness involves two seemingly unrelated murders set fourteen years apart and the secrets that bind them. For those of you who like involving yourselves in the lives of series characters, you will quickly find yourself wanting to find out what happens next in the story arch of Stonechild and Rouleau that goes from book to book.

With my last selection, I take you to the west coast of Canada, to the seductive allure of the Gulf Islands where Phyllis Smallman’s Beach Kill takes place. The series stars quirky former and one time homeless singer, Singer Brown, who is attempting to renew her life on the fictitious Glenphiddie Island. Second in the series, Beach Kill is about the suspicions and secrets surrounding the death of a teenage girl and how they envelop the whole town. Sadly, Phyllis passed away this fall, so there will be no more books. But she leaves behind her multi-award winning, Florida based, Sherri Travis 7 book series in addition to the Singer Brown series. 

Before I sign off for 2018, I would like to wish all of you an enjoyable holiday season and for those who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas. I hope you are able to bring in the new year in style. See you all in 2019!

1 comment:

Brenda Chapman said...

I'm so pleased you enjoyed Bleeding Darkness! Thanks for including on your picks for 2018, Robin. Wishing you a very happy holiday.