A few weeks ago, Ben Fox of Shephard.com asked for a curated list of books for his new site. The site was created to link readers to books, not just any books, but books recommended by authors as opposed to algorithms (which are used extensively by sites like Amazon).
Ben asked for a focused theme. I chose “the best Canadian detective and mystery novels.” My top five 📚 recommendations are:
A Siege of Bitterns by Steve Burrows
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
Until the Nightby Giles Blunt
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe
Click the link below to see the full recommendations and a review of each title.
A Siege of Bitterns by Steve Burrows. Dundurn Press. 2014.
Reviewed by A.M. Potter. ® 2019.
A Siege of Bitterns is the first novel in the “Birder Murder” series. The book won the 2015 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel (for non-Canucks, the Arthur Ellis is the Canadian Nobel Prize of crime writing). A Siege of Bitterns is worthy of the prize.
The novel’s protagonist, DI Domenic Jejeune, is a Canadian transplanted to the UK. The mystery unfolds in the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, premier birding country. One might say Dejeune is a reluctant detective. He likes bird watching as much, if not more, than solving murders. To some of his fellow police officers, he’s a strange bird indeed. He occasionally comes across as a tortured eccentric. One wonders how he can solve crimes. But he does. His odd individualism is reminiscent of some of the most famous detectives in fiction. Shades of Sherlock Holmes, anyone? Or Hercule Poirot?
I won’t review the plot itself. I rarely do. I prefer to let the reader discover it. On the other hand, I will say that it’s clever, with a tangled bird’s nest of false starts and red herrings. You’ll exercise your grey cells on this one. Burrows delivers big personalities whose individuality springs from their dialog and thoughts, not from what they wear or drive. He also delivers enticing chapter endings, leaving the reader with a hook. What’s going to happen next? I want to know.
Burrows writes with flair. He deploys plenty of descriptive prose, yet he doesn’t lose momentum. I feel I’m in good hands. After a little flair, he returns to the core of crime writing: logistics. Clues and red herrings.
its widest point, the marsh stretched almost a quarter of a mile across the
north Norfolk coastline. Here, the river that had flowed like a silver ribbon
through the rolling farmlands to the west finally came to rest, spilling its
contents across the flat terrain, smoothing out the uneven contours, seeping
silently into every corner ….”