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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Mystery of the Moonlight Murder by Roderick Benns

54. – 614.) The Mystery of the Moonlight Murder by Roderick Benns – I do not often read books written for ages 11 and up. I was drawn to this book because its subtitle is “An early adventure of John Diefenbaker” and it is a Saskatchewan mystery. The book is the first in a series of historical adventure books featuring Canadian Prime Ministers when they were 12-13 years of age. On Thursday I will put up a post on the concept of the series Leaders & Legacies. I will add a further post on Saturday discussing personal contacts with John Diefenbaker. He has been the only Canadian Prime Minister to come from Saskatchewan.

The book is set north of the village of Borden in 1908 when John was 12 and his younger brother, Elmer, was 10. Their parents and uncle had homesteaded a few years earlier.

The book gets off to a rousing start when the boys, returning home in the night after getting some water from a neighbour, are startled by a gunshot. Rushing to the Schneider farm they find that Hans Schneider has been murdered.

Immediate suspicion falls upon River’s Voice, a Cree Indian, from the nearby reserve who has had public confrontations with Schneider over fur pelts that River’s Voice claims were stolen from him by Schneider.

The Diefenbaker family does not believe River’s Voice is the murderer. John and Elmer are determined to prove his innocence. They are aided by Summer Storm, the 11 year old daughter of River’s Voice. They have but a few days to find evidence for River’s Voice is scheduled to be taken to the provincial capital of Regina to be tried for the murder.

The author is sympathetic to the concerns of the Indian peoples trying to make the adjustment from free ranging hunters to farmers in one generation.

While the young John is trying to focus on the murder there is growing turmoil in the area as a young Metis man, Andre Dumont, is agitating against the Federal Government. Asserting he is a nephew of the great Metis military leader, Gabriel Dumont, he raises the different grievances the Indians, the Metis and the white settlers have with the distant government in Ottawa. It is been 23 years since the Riel or Northwest Rebellion and few of the issues that sparked that revolt have been addressed.

Life is demanding for the settlers. Only prompt action by the family saves their home from a raging prairie fire.

The mystery is solved with flair. John is a clever boy with a great memory, an ability to assemble arguments and a talent for convincing arguments. The book shows why he became the best known lawyer of his generation.

The descriptions of life on the farm in 1908 are accurate. Everyone had to work hard to develop farms on the good soil of Saskatchewan. My grandfather homesteaded our land in 1907. He came from South Dakota with a few cattle and horses and built a farm.

It is a fine book. I wish there had been such a fiction adventure when I was growing up on the farm in the 1950’s about 200 km away from Borden. When I was a boy all the books in the library about young people were set far away in Eastern Canada or the United States or England. Had there been an adventure set a short distance away involving Saskatchewan farm kids it would have been wonderful.

The book is an excellent means of providing significant historical information on the settlement of Saskatchewan within a credible mystery. I expect I will look for more of the historical adventures of young Prime Ministers. (Oct. 4/11)


The book is my 4th book in the 5th Canadian Book Challenge at the Book Mine Set. I have now reached the Bras d’Or Lake level.


  1. Bill - Well done on that challenge! And thanks for sharing this book. It's not easy to write good mysteries for that age group, and I'm glad this one has succeeded. What a terrific way to keep young readers interested (as the plot moves along well, and there's plenty of mystery and adventure)while still sharing some history. That takes talent.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Only 9 more on the challenge to reach the highest level. I agree that it is an excellent teaching history in a mystery.

  3. I am thinking of purchasing this novel for a high school Saskatchewan library. My only concern is the reading level (ages 12-up. Looking beyond the reading level, I think it will be a great addition to our library and hopefully a way to ignite a passion for history.

  4. Anonymous: Thanks for the comment. I agree it will be an excellent addition to the library. I think a young person from Saskatchewan reading the book will be motivated to learn more about our history.