While Phoebe makes a living by working part-time for the T.V. station her real passion in life is making personal films. Where a conventional cinematic artist would be making “arty” movies to satisfy creative urges Phoebe is a Canadian who loves the land. She makes nature films. In the book she is completing a film about the iconic Canadian beaver. She has been filming members of a beaver colony located within walking distance of her home.
While Benedict’s murder is months in the past many, including the RCMP and Phil Reilly, the manager of The Ranch, believe Benedict was murdered but there is no proof she was actually murdered rather than committing suicide.
Phoebe is joined at The Ranch by the producer of the show, Ella, and the beautiful Candi, the interviewer. Candi’s striking blonde beauty leaves men distracted. Yet she is not an an empty airhead. She has a talent for skewering those men and women who underestimate her intelligence. I was glad to see Candi is not made into a stereotype.
Filming proceeds slowly at The Ranch. Everyone wants to be a director. Eventually arrangements are made to return another day.
The film crew is invited to stay for formal supper. Hungry appetites stand no chance of fulfillment at The Ranch. Meals are carefully calculated to meet the caloric minimum of the guests. The Ranch’s attitude toward food is best illustrated by its medical director, Dr. Morrison, who rejoices over the beautiful place settings and décor rather than the food.
Portions are minute to promote weight loss among the guests. When Phoebe takes a guest to savour the pleasures of cakes and scones in a café located at the ranch formerly owned by the abdicated King Edward
“There’s no calorie like an empty calorie.”
The Ranch is an unlikely setting for the weekly formal meals featuring sushi prepared by a master
chef, Ben Sugamoto. Yet even desperately hungry guests hesitate to eat the
sushi at The Ranch. Several of the guests and Phoebe are reluctant to eat raw
fish when they are warned there is a risk of being infected with parasites. (I
have not seen the issue raised in real life for at least a decade.) Alberta
The evening is drawing to an especially hungry end for Phoebe as she has been dragging heavy film equipment around all evening. The rather mundane evening for Phoebe is turned upside down when the body of Reilly is found dead on a path with one of Ben’s knives plunged through his heart. Complicating matters Ben has fled The Ranch for
In the morning the irrepressible Phoebe starts trying to figure why Reilly was killed. He was certainly not alienating people by driving hard up the corporate ladder. He had been assigned to The Ranch because the job had less pressure for a man with fragile health.
The investigation proceeds to a credible ending.
The title is clever but does not really fit the plot.
Phoebe is an engaging character. Independent in spirit and speech she has a light wit that reminded me abit of Russell Quant in the series by Anthony Bidulka.
The book makes good use of the
foothills, Albertan personalities and Canadian culture. Alberta
Healthy, Wealthy & Dead was the 6th book I have read in the 6th Canadian Book Challenge. (Jan. 31/13)