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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

“K” is for Joseph Kanon

It is time for the letter “K” at the Alphabet in Crime Fiction at Kerrie Smith’s blog, Mysteries in Paradise. I have chosen the American author Joseph Kanon.

Born in 1946 he studied at Harvard and got a Master’s Degree in English Literature at Trinity College in Cambridge in England.

He then went into the publishing industry where he was an editor and then in management. He was President of E.P. Dutton and an Executive Vice-President of Houghton Mifflin.

Tired of commuting between New York City and Boston and wanting to do something different he took up writing fiction and published his first book, Los Alamos, when he was 49 in 1995. When that book won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel he was onto a writing career that will see his newest book, Istanbul Passage, published earlier this year.

His website advises that he is a winner of the “The Anne Frank Human Writers Award for his writings on the aftermath of the Holocaust”.

From an interview at Simon & Schuster he revealed something of his personality when he said:

Q. Who are your favorite authors?

A. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Marcel Proust, Evelyn Waugh,
F. Scott Fitzgerald

In an interview with Jesse Kornbluth for Random House Kanon discussed how he wrote Los Alamos:

Kornbluth: What was your writing day like?

Kanon: Five days a week, I went to the public reading room at the New York Public Library. There's enough going on so you don't feel isolated. And when you need a book, the staff is helpful.

Kornbluth: Did you have an outline?

Kanon: Because it's a thriller, you know where it's going to come out. I wrote a thriller because I like to read them. And it forces you to pay attention to the story.

While in New York City I visited the public reading room of the main branch of the New York Public Library and loved the room. Though on vacation I needed to some work one night and went there. It was a wonderful place at which to do my work. My only regret was how early it closed in the evening.

Going back to Kanon, I have read his second book, The Good German. I enjoyed the book a great deal.

Most mysteries do not tackle “big questions”. The Good German was a book on the “big questions” that happened to have a murder mystery involved. Who was a good German during WW II is a challenging question? Reading The Good German will make a reader reflect that there is not a simple answer.


  1. Thanks, Bill, I have heard of this author but not read his books. I'll have to put him on my list now.

  2. Bill - What an interesting look at Kanon and his work! I like the fact that he's influenced by authors such as Shakespeare and Austen, among others. Something appeals to me about that background in the classics. And I like his story of writing in the New York Public Library's reading room - libraries are great places to write. Thanks for sharing all of this.

  3. what an interesting life. I love that he writes thrillers because he loves to read them.

  4. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. I look forward to a future review of a book by Kanon.

  5. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I wonder how many mystery writers would be the authors of the classics as their favourite authors.

  6. Clarissa: Thanks for commenting. I think if you read thrillers as well as write them it shows you respect them.

  7. Fascinating stuff Bill - I love that quote about thrillers: "it forces you to pay attention to the story", good advice for the writer and the reader! I have not read any of his books yet though I must be one of the few who not only went to see the movie adaptation of THE GOOD GERMAN but actually liked it too. I am curious to see how they compare ...

  8. Good and interesting post on Kanon. I have at least a couple of his books, including The Good German. That one sounds especially interesting. Haven't read any yet and I should remedy that.

  9. Sergio: Thanks for the comment. I will have to watch the movie to see what I think of it. I hope you read the book. I would be interested in your thoughts.

  10. TracyK: Thanks for commenting. I hope you get a chance to read Kanon. He makes readers think more than most thriller writers.