Thursday, 15 November 2012

Canadian, Canadian, Canadian...

I’m writing this blog post earlier than usual, as I have friends coming to visit on Sunday and so will not have time to write on Sunday morning, which is my usual time.  I will, however, make time that morning to enjoy a steaming cup of chai as I complete the few tasks I have to do before my guests arrive.  For now, I have a cup of herbal tea by my side while I write about three Canadian fiction selections I’ve finished, started, or am listening to.

The first title I want to write about is The Accident by Linwood Barclay.  I’m listening to this title as an audiobook, and it is very engaging.  It begins with the suspicious death of a woman who may have been involved in the illegal sale of counterfeit items in her small town.  While the local police blame the woman for the accident that killed her, along with a father and son in an oncoming car, her husband, Glen Garber, can’t believe that she is at fault, and begins to dig further into the circumstances surrounding the accident.  What he uncovers is a complex web of activity under the calm surface of the town he calls home.  Told in alternating first-person and third-person narratives, this novel is action-packed and fast-paced, as the reader (or listener) faces plot twists and turns on every page.  I am thankful for this alternating narration, as I find the personality of Garber, first-person narrator, to be a bit sanctimonious at times (the audiobook's narrator's fault perhaps?) but this is balanced by the other omniscient narration.  I just realized that this book has been nominated for the 2012 OLA Evergreen Award, an award that recognizes adult Canadian fiction or non-fiction titles.  Linwood is the author of more than a dozen mystery-thrillers, and I always enjoy listening to his books on audio, as they hold my interest to the very last page every time.  I’m nearly done this novel, but have two more downloaded and ready to go when I finish.

The next title I want to tell you about is Beach Strip by John Lawrence Reynolds, another Canadian author who lives in Burlington, Ontario.  This novel is on my “required reading” list, and is a mystery set on the beach strip in Hamilton.  The main character, Josie Marshall, can’t believe that her cop husband Gabe shot himself after she failed to meet him for a rendezvous on the beach.  Everyone seems ready to dismiss this as a suicide, and even Josie is beginning to lean towards that conclusion until another death, also dismissed as suicide, occurs on the beach strip literally at Josie’s feet.  She sees too many coincidences and unexplained circumstances, and undertakes her own investigation into these deaths to ultimately find the truth that lies just out of reach.  This sassy, not-always-likeable, but very human main character is smart yet vulnerable, and the novel is written convincingly from a female perspective by this male author.  I guess it’s been a number of years since this author has written mystery fiction, and his return to the genre, in my opinion, is a success.

And the final title I have to talk about is More than Sorrow by Vicki Delany.   This book was just published in September, and is a gothic mystery set in Prince Edward County, Ontario.  The main character is Hannah Manning, a former foreign correspondent who suffered a traumatic brain injury while in Afghanistan.  She is convalescing on her sister’s organic farm and stumbles upon some documents from the original Loyalist settlers in the attic.  She also befriends Hila, the Afghan woman who is staying with the retired couple who live in the farmhouse down the road.  While I’m not quite a third of the way into the book, I’m totally drawn into the interconnected stories of Hannah’s recovery, Hila’s past, and the visions Hannah has while in the root cellar of her sister’s farm.  This author, originally from Winnipeg, had a past life as a computer programmer before she began writing full-time.  I believe she is the author of a cozy mystery series set in a fictional town in British Columbia, the “Constable Molly Smith” series.  This novel is a stand-alone, and definitely has me hooked, as it offers a bit on women’s rights, a bit on local history, a bit on self-discovery, a bit on environmental consciousness, a bit on motherhood, and a whole lot in between.  I’ll tell you more when I finish (which I suspect will be soon!).  I’m going to recommend this title for my Committee to consider as well, since I think it’s as good as just about anything else I’ve read so far.

That’s all for today.  As I promised, Canadian, Canadian, and more Canadian…

Bye for now!
Julie

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