About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

An Ordinary Decent Criminal by by Michael Van Rooy

Today's post will also be my first book in The Canadian Book Challenge hosted by John Mutford at his blog, The Book Mine Set. By reading this book I have reached the first level being MacLures Pond.


38. - 597.) An Ordinary Decent Criminal by Michael Van Rooy – Sam Parker is an average man. When he was Monty Haaviko he was a career criminal and addict. He has been an O.D.C. Having served his time Sam has moved to Winnipeg with his lovely wife, Claire, and their 10 month old son, Frederick. He is ready to lead a straight life.

In a dramatic, even shocking opening, Sam kills three young men who have broken into his home. His swift sure actions reflect a man long used to violence.

The Winnipeg police are not sympathetic to the home renter defending his family against armed home invaders. Their violence against Sam to gain a confession of murder is powerfully written. I can only hope such beatings do not happen in real life. (I did have a case recently where the accused’s confession was ruled inadmissible when the questioning officer did not turn on the audio/visual system, did not make notes of the conversation and did not get the accused to sign the statement. There was no violence in the interview.)

Sam, with the aid of his lawyer, Thompson, skillfully challenges the police.

Back in the neighbourhood life is a challenge for the ex-con. Few are willing to have anything to do with the lifetime loser. Despite the obstacles Sam is determined to stay straight. For the first time in his life he is putting the interests of his wife and child ahead of his personal desires. A day of honest work with the evening at home with his family is his modest goal.

Facing continuing harassment Sam takes action to secure a new future. He will do what is necessary.

The book contains innovative descriptions of how to steal and defraud and hurt people. Monty had learned a lot in his 32 years about crime. It is hard boiled fiction with a character seeking to change in a world that refuses to believe he has changed.

It is a remarkable book. It was with great sadness that I read Van Rooy had died earlier this year from a heart attack at 42 while on a book tour. Reading that he had served almost 2 years in jail for armed robbery while a young man helped explain his vivid descriptions of incarceration. (He maintained he was not guilty and had been at the wrong place at the wrong time.) The world has lost an excellent writer of crime fiction. (July 12/11)


  1. Bill - Thanks for this review. I'd heard of this novel and read a couple of good reviews of it. I'm glad you've reminded me to check it out. Such a fascinating premise...

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. The book was a good surprise. I think you will enjoy it.