Book Reviews

Author Events 2020

EVENT RESCHEDULED due to COVID-19. DATE/TIME TBA. (Old Time: Thursday May 14, 2020.) Author Talk & Signing at Koffee House Reads (affiliated with Meaford Public Library), MEAFORD, ON. Time & Venue TBA. Directions | Website

EVENT RESCHEDULED due to COVID-19. DATE/TIME TBA. (Old Time: Friday May 15, 2020. 3:00 PM.) Author Talk & Signing at Midland Public Library, MIDLAND, ON. 320 King Street. Directions | Website

EVENT RESCHEDULED due to COVID-19. DATE/TIME TBA. (Old Time: Thursday May 21, 2020.) Author Talk & Signing at Ansley Grove Public Library (Branch of Vaughan Public Library), WOODBRIDGE, ON. 350 Ansley Grove Rd. Directions | Website

EVENT RESCHEDULED due to COVID-19. DATE/TIME TBA. (Old Time: Sunday May 31, 2020. 2:00 PM.) Author Talk & Signing at Blue Mountains (L.E. Shore) Public Library, THORNBURY, ON. 173 Bruce St. S. Directions | Website

EVENT CANCELLED due to COVID-19. Thursday June 18, 2020. 3:00 PM. Author Talk & Signing at Probus Club of Collingwood, Collingwood, ON. Members Only. Website

EVENT RESCHEDULED to 2021 due to COVID-19. DATE/TIME TBA. (Old Time: Thursday July 2, 2020. 6:30 PM. Author Talk & Signing at Cottage Dockside Reads (affiliated with Parry Sound Public Library) at the Carling Township Recreation Center (15 minutes north of Parry Sound), CARLING, ON. Directions | Website

Upcoming Events 2020, Scheduling TBA.

Author Talks & Signings at bookstores and libraries in the following locations: Orillia, Barrie, Collingwood, Owen Sound, Kimberley, Stayner, Angus, Caledon, and more.

Past Events – 2019

Thursday June 20, 2019. 7:00 PM. Author Talk & Signing at Ginger Press Bookshop, OWEN SOUND, ON. 848 2nd Avenue East. Directions | Website

Sunday July 7, 2019. 11:00 AM – 3:30 PM. Author Event & Signing at Chapters Indigo Bookstore, BARRIE, ON. 76 Barrie View Drive. Directions | Website

Thursday July 25, 2019. 2:00 PM. Author Talk & Signing at Port Elgin Public Library, Port Elgin, ON. 708 Goderich St. Directions | Website

Monday August 12, 2019. 7:30 PM. Author Talk & Signing at Wasaga Beach Public Library, WASAGA BEACH, ON. 120 Glenwood Drive. Directions | Website

Tuesday August 13, 2019. 2:00 PM. Author Talk & Signing at Tobermory Public Library, TOBERMORY, ON. 22 Bay Street. Directions | Website

Thursday August 15, 2019. 2:00 PM. Author Talk & Signing at Wiarton Public Library, WIARTON, ON. 578 Brown Street. Directions | Website

Monday August 19, 2019. 1:00 PM. Author Talk & Signing at Lion’s Head Public Library, LION’S HEAD, ON. 90 Main Street. Directions | Website

Saturday August 24, 2019. 11:00 AM – 3:30 PM. Author Event & Signing at Chapters Indigo Bookstore, HILLCREST MALL, NORTH YORK, ON. 9350 Yonge St. Unit Y010. Directions | Website

Saturday October 12, 2019. 11:00 AM – 4:30 PM. RETURN ENGAGEMENT. Author Event & Signing at Chapters Indigo Bookstore, HILLCREST MALL, NORTH YORK, ON. 9350 Yonge St. Unit Y010. Directions | Website

Unwitting Accessories

Criminology studies show that many murder victims do something that leads to their deaths: e.g., they cheat, hoard money, or assault someone. In such cases, from one point-of-view, they trigger their own demises. They are accessories to their own murders – unwitting accessories.

“Accessories, AMP? How can you call them that? They didn’t conspire to kill themselves.” Agreed, they didn’t, not in the strict sense of the word. {Just to be clear: I am not an apologist for murderers. I don’t blame murder victims for their deaths. They were killed; they were not killers.} I’m expanding the meaning of the word accessory, bringing a new version to life – well, to death. Crime fiction approaches death directly. Homicide detectives don’t euphemize or obfuscate; they pursue the Grim Reaper with open eyes. They believe a person’s actions have consequences.

I’m with them. I don’t know if there’s life after death. I can’t say if there’s a heaven or hell. However, there’s one thing I’m sure of: What we do in life counts.

Our Blue Beauty

There are billions of us riding on this blue beauty, the Planet Earth — through no volition of our own. We were simply born. We accrued health, wealth, and/or happiness. But a madness has been monopolizing the airwaves, one called entitlement. Caveat: If you’re here for detective fiction, give this blog a miss.

The sloganeers say we deserve Michelin-star meals, haute couture fashion, etc. Maybe we do. But the earth can’t provide everything we deserve, not for so many of us. Eight billion humans can’t all live like kings or queens.

To bring things closer to home — Canada, that is — I hear pundits saying the country’s population (now about 38 million) should be 100 million. They say it’s a big country, and it is, but the vast majority is north of the 50th parallel. And what if we want nature to flourish? I doubt Canada will experience overpopulation in my lifetime. However, let’s think of the planet as a whole. For its sake, let’s avoid going over nine billion. Which leads to a thorny proposition, yet not a new one: population control.

I realize there are numerous quagmires. Who implements said control? Who decides where it will happen? I don’t have answers – except fictional ones – but I do see a clear choice. Either we all try to live like gods, or we live like mortals — equal mortals — somewhat constrained yet content, our needs well met.

The Night Fire – California Noir

The Night Fire by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company. 2019.

In his lengthy oeuvre, Michael Connelly has created a contemporary version of California Noir: murder turns on money and fame – not just money, not just fame. In the case of victims, wealth and fame put targets on their backs. As for murderers, they kill for money and notoriety.

The Night Fire opens with detectives Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch and Renée Ballard joining forces. Although two detectives aren’t always better than one, in this novel they are. Bosch, recently retired from the LAPD, and Ballard, a LAPD graveyard-shifter – an outsider and an insider – team up to solve a recent murder. Being L.A., one murder case leads to another. And another. The novel won’t win awards for inventive prose. {If that’s what you’re looking for, take a pass.} However, The Night Fire has garnered numerous kudos. To wit: “Connelly is without peer when it comes to police procedurals …. He’s the modern master of the form.” ~ Publishers Weekly.

Connelly shines a light on the personal side of police work. Unlike many current crime authors, he focuses more on life as a detective than CSI magic. You experience the day-to-day existence of Bosch and Ballard as they pursue perps, sifting through an avalanche of evidence.

The novel delivers a boatload of police procedural details, but they don’t sink the storyline. The Night Fire is sharply plotted. The protagonists are tough yet sympatico. Connelly fans won’t be disappointed.

The King of Scottish Noir

Who’s the King of Scottish Noir? Ian Rankin. Hands down. Some might say Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde in 1886, but I see him as the father. In any case, Rankin’s noir output far surpasses that of Stevenson.

Take Rankin’s Inspector Rebus opus. John Rebus is a hard-edge, no-nonsense police detective with a philosopher’s head and heart. He doesn’t always play by the rules. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. 

In the Rebus novels, mostly set in or near Edinburgh, Rankin deploys banter to counter the bleak reality of Scottish crime. He portrays tough criminals who are tougher men. The cops who hunt them are just as tough. Aye, but there’s humour too, of the Scottish ilk. Gruff, understated and, given the juxtaposition, doubly funny.  

At times, the plotting and crime MOs seem over-the-top. Some readers find the storylines overly bleak and depressing. They are cut from the cloth of real life. If you read a Rankin novel, you’ll get punched in the gut, you’ll rail at what humans do to humans. However, if you’re like me, you’ll keep reading. Ye can’nae stop. The King of Scottish Noir will hook you.

See Wikipedia for more on Ian Rankin and his twenty-plus Rebus novels.