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, May 27, 2012

"B" is for Gail Bowen

A profile of Saskatchewan author, Gail Bowen, will be my entry at “B” in the meme, the Alphabet in Crime Fiction in 2012, hosted by Kerrie Smith at her blog, Mysteries in Paradise. I was glad Gail’s surname is early in the alphabet as it allows me to actually make this a week with Gail Bowen. I will be posting on Tuesday a review of her newest book, Kaleidoscope, in the Joanne Kilbourn series. I may be able to follow up with Q and A with Gail later in the week.

I obtained some basic biographical information off the Canadaka.net website:

Bowen, Gail (b. 1942). Born Gail Bartholomew in Toronto, she learned to read by age three from tombstones in Prospect Cemetery, a facility that was extremely useful when she was struck by polio two years later. She was educated at the University of Toronto (B.A.), University of Waterloo (M.A.), and the University of Saskatchewan, where she almost completed a Ph.D. After a series of extension-course teaching contracts in small-town locations across Saskatchewan and a ten-year sessional stint with the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, University of Regina, she was granted tenure in the English department of the university in 1986.

She recently retired from teaching at what is now the First Nations University of Canada.

Last year Gail was writer in residence with the Calgary Public Library.

Her husband, Ted, is from Texas. He was also a university professor. They have 3 children (Hildy, Max, Nathaniel) and 2 grandchildren (Madeline and Alejandra).

What I can add to the official information is that Gail is a wonderful person to visit and with whom to share a meal. Conversation sparkles with Gail and Ted. They are interested, involved and ready to talk on any topic. If any reader has the chance to spend time with Gail I encourage them to take advantage of the opportunity. You will be stimulated and informed.

Gail has a unique home in Regina in that she has the only house in Saskatchewan that I know of that has a Cold War bomb shelter in the backyard. I was going to describe it as inaccessible but Gail advised me that Nathaniel has recently opened it up and pumped it out and shown it to some of the curious. It has been sealed up again.

Her backyard was also noteworthy on a visit Sharon and I had to her home for having mirrors hanging along the fence. It was an intriguing means of livening up the backyard.

You will not find Gail at an airport. She does not fly. When she needs to get to Eastern Canada to promote books or for other reasons she takes the train for that 2,500 km journey. She is currently on her way back from an author tour in Ontario.

I have read all of the Joanne Kilbourn series and reviewed most of them. You can find my reviews by clicking on Saskatchewan mysteries on the right hand side of the blog and going to the section on Gail.

All of the books in the series are based in Saskatchewan and feature elements of our lives in this province. Our geography, weather and people are all featured in her books.

I especially enjoy the development of Joanne’s family during the two decades of the series. Joanne has gone through raising her 3 children and is now involved in the lives of a stepdaughter and 2 granddaughters.

I can tell you in advance of the post that Kaleidoscope is an excellent addition to the series.


  1. Lovely profile, Bill. Great to have a bomb shelter in your garden, and I totally sympathise with her about the flying. Look forward to your next articles about Gail Bowen, though I may skip your upcoming review as I've as-yet only read the first Joanne Kilbourn book.

  2. Bill - An excellent choice for the letter B. I truly enjoy the Joanna Kilbourn series and although I'm not far enough along to be ready for Kaleidoscope, I look forward to it when I get there. Bowen and I have in common an academic background, so that's an appealing "draw" too.

  3. Interesting coverage of an author that is new to me. I will have to add her to my list of authors/books to look for at sales. My husband doesn't fly at all (and I really don't like flying either).

  4. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. It would probably be best not to read the review because part of it is with regard to the existing family situation.

  5. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I know you and Gail would enjoy speaking with each other. You are even closer academically with each being involved with English at the university level.

  6. TracyK.: Thanks for commenting. I hope you are able to find one or more of Gail's books.

  7. What a life! I would have loved to have met her when I lived in Calgary.

  8. Very nice profile! I have never read anything set in Saskatchewan. Your blog has opened up a whole new line for me!

  9. Clarissa: Thanks for the comment. While not flying Gail does visit lots of places in Canada. Maybe you will have a chance to meet in the future.

  10. Peggy Ann: Thanks for the comment. Saskatchewan crime fiction welcomes you. There are numerous good options.

  11. What a great profile! I haven't read any of her work yet, but I keep hearing her name. Gonna have to get one of hers onto my TBR stack...

    Here's my Letter B

  12. Bev: Thanks for the comment. Gail would be a good addition to your TBR stack.

  13. I haven't read any book by Gail. Saskatchewan mysteries sound interesting. Adding it to my TBR.

  14. srivalli: Thanks for the comment. The more people reading Saskatchewan mysteries the better!

  15. I am meeting so many writers that are new to me on this crime fiction journey.

  16. J.L. Campbell: Thanks for the comment. Crime fiction became worldwide for me when I started blogging.

  17. The fact that you recommend Gail Bowen's books so highly compels me to begin reading them. Unfortunately, my library doesn't carry very many, an aspect of my city's "austerity program," which does target libraries, among other institutions.

    Gail sounds like a terrific person.
    I so envy her taking the train across the beautiful Canadian landscape whenever she needs to travel.

    Has she ever written a travelogue about what she's seen via train?

    Her characters and easy writing style draw in a reader. I hope the progressive political slant keeps up; I hate cynicism and defeated people -- and characters.

    It's easy to give up, harder to keep hope alive.

  18. kathy d.: Thanks for the comment.

    I do not know about a travelogue. The next time I see Gail I will ask her.

    I do not see Gail ever being or writing Joanne as cynical and defeated. Both are stalwart women.

  19. Well, now that I've finished Kaleidoscope, I've decided that Joanne Kilbourn and I will be meeting often in the future.

    I like to alternate types of books, and these will fit in nicely between Nordic noir and Sicilian angst -- as a counterpoint.

    I do like Gail Bowen's sense of humor and the dialogue between Zach and Joanne had me laughing often or thinking, "That's it, that's exactly the right response."

    Since my library has only four books or so in this series, I'll visit Abe Books and Better World Books to buy them used and will attempt to go through them in some type of chronological order.

    I have the first one thanks to a kind blogger.

    However, this presents a dilemma. Since the heat is brutal in my city, I am so tempted to just read about Joanne and her family sitting in my a/c, while sipping iced tea. That would be a virtual vacation for me.

  20. kathy d.: Thanks for the comment.

    We look forward to further reading visits to Saskatchewan.

    And if you have the chance you can get on a plane. Saskatchewan would love to have you come to our province.