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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Saskatchewan Sleuths with Families

I have been discussing the role of families in mystery fiction. In this post I will discuss several of the Saskatchewan Sleuths with Families alphabetically by author. The earliest post in this series was Sleuths without Families setting out the basis of my opinion that most sleuths before the 1990’s did not have families. My second post was Sleuths with Families providing a survey of 41 mystery sleuths I have read since 2000.
            The most recent Saskatchewan mystery is The Mystery of the Moonlight Murder by Roderick Benns. It is a young adult mystery set in rural Saskatchewan in 1908 featuring a young John George Diefenbaker, a future Canadian Prime Minister. John, 12 years old, lives with his parents, William and Mary, and his brother, Elmer, on the family homestead. Through the adventure Elmer is his constant companion.
            Anthony Bidulka has an excellent series featuring Russell Quant, a gay Saskatoon private detective who is a former police officer. While Russell lives alone his mother, Kay, is an important part of his life often coming into the city from the farm to spend time with Russell. While Russell loves her hearty Ukrainian cooking he frets over the impact on his waistline. One of the funniest moments in my recent mystery reading history was Russell finding out that he and his mother have independently bought the same model of Mazda van known thereafter as the “Babamobile”. His troubled and hard living sister, Joanne, has also appeared in the series. Russell and his mother have a strong loving relationship.
            The dean of Saskatchewan mystery writers is Gail Bowen. Her character, Joanne Kilbourn, has been in 12 different mysteries. When the series starts she is recently widowed and the mother of a teenage daughter, Mieka, just leaving for university and teenage sons, Peter and Angus. During the 20 years of the series the children have matured and grandchildren have arrived. A girl was adopted. There have been passionate love interests. Finally, Regina lawyer, Zack Shreeve, came into her life. They fall in love and marry. They have challenges but are committed to their marriage. It is striking that Zack is a paraplegic. I have not read another series where the sleuth marries a paraplegic who becomes an important character in the series. I have come to look forward to the next developments in the lives of Joanne’s families as much as the mysteries.
            Nelson Brunanski grew up 85 km from Melfort. His series features Bart Bartkowski. He is happily married to Rosie and they have a pair of children, Stuart and Annie. They are an average family. In Frost Bite the family wrestles with the demands and stresses of a large rural Saskatchewan wedding. The description of Annie’s wedding and reception are vivid and accurate. The impact on the family of the diagnosis of Bart having prostate cancer reminded me of my own experience.
            Anne M. Dooley has written one Saskatchewan mystery, A Plane Death. Her Saskatoon sleuth, Elie Meade, is also married with children.
            Alison Gordon has written a series with Kate Henry as the sleuth. My last post is about Prairie Hardball, the mystery in which Kate returns to Saskatchewan for the induction of her mother, Helen, into the Saskatchewan Baseball of Fame because she had been one of the Saskatchewan women who travelled to the United States in the 1940’s and 1950’s to play professional baseball in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. Her husband, Andy, a Toronto police officer is making his first trip to Saskatchewan. Meeting her mother’s old teammates and friends gives Kate a new perspective on her mother.
            Rob Harasmychuk wrote a unique mystery in The Joining of Dingo Radish. It is no surprise the title condenses the main character’s full name, Dingonaslav Marion Radashonovich. Dingo lives a small town in Saskatchewan with his brother, Pitch, who is mentally challenged and his sister, Marty, who is often involved in casual sexual relationships. With their parents dead Dingo is struggling to meet the needs of his family. It is infrequent to find a sleuth with a challenged sibling being a character.
            I have thought often why almost all Saskatchewan mysteries have a strong family component. On Thursday, December 30 I shall provide comments I have obtained from Saskatchewan mystery writers.


  1. Bill - What an interesting post! You're quite right that families feature heavily in some good series and these are prime examples. One of the things I'm always learning from you is how many fine Canadian authors I haven't yet "met." I actually kind of like it when a sleuth has family ties - it makes her or him more "real." Certainly we can get a sense of some character warmth if there's a family.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the kind words. I believe you are a person who learns every day. I think you will find the comments on Thursday from Saskatchewan authors interesting.