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.

Monday, May 27, 2013

“H” is for High Chicago by Howard Shrier

18. – 707.) “H” is for High Chicago by Howard Shrier – My review of High Chicago will be this week’s post for “H” in the Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme hosted by Kerrie Smith at her blog, Mysteries in Paradise.
The second Jonah Geller mystery has the action divided between Toronto and Chicago. In the series Shrier has established a pattern splitting each book’s location between Toronto and an American city. 

Geller and Jenn Rendsepp are the struggling partners in the investigative agency called World Repairs. (Geller insisted on the name drawing on his Jewish heritage from “tikkun olam, the Jewis concept of repairing the world, making it a better place wherever you can.”) 

Geller’s brother, Daniel, has referred the grieving Marilyn Cantor to the agency. She is heartbroken over her daughter, Maya, dying from a fall from her apartment. The police and coroner have concluded it was suicide. Marilyn has to know what happened to cause the fall. 

As the investigation begins Geller re-establishes contact with Daunte Ryan, the former contract killer Geller had helped escape the killing profession. Now an Italian restauranteur Ryan is happy to provide with good food and other assistance. 

Katherine Hollinger, a Toronto homicide detective, invites Geller out for supper. When she suggests Italian, he replies: 

“Of course I do,” I said. “Scratch a Jew, find an Italian. Except on Sunday evenings, when we all convert to Chinese.” 
As Geller looks into Maya’s life he meets her father, Rob Cantor, a developer with a new trophy wife who replaced Marilyn. Cantor is coping with the multitude of issues involved in constructing a huge new building complex on the Toronto harbor front. There are some expensive problems and his partner Chicago billionaire, Simon Birk, is not known for his patience. 

Bodies start dropping and the answers are in Chicago. Geller, lacking any specific means of examining Birk’s businesses, resorts to the Spenser approach of deliberately goading Birk. Geller, trained in the Israeli army in the self-defence techniques of krav magna is ready to deal with the consequences. 

Geller is unlike any American hard boiled detective I have read. He does not carry a gun. Maybe there is a developing sub-genre of unarmed Canadian hard boiled detectives. Jill Edmondson’s Toronto sleuth, Sasha Jackson, also travels the streets unarmed. 

Canada is certainly changing in who can be a sleuth’s assistant. Not only is Jenn a woman she is a proudly out lesbian. I am not sure if America is ready for a tough guy’s sidekick to be gay. 

In the first book, Buffalo Jump, I found the level of violence a concern. I have the same issue with this book. I am finding myself less interested in reading hard boiled detectives because of the amount of blood. I like Jonah as a character. He is multi-dimensional. He has natural wit. He is clever. I wish he had a solution to mysteries that was less graphically violent. I was ambivalent about reading this book because of the violence quotient in Buffalo Jump. I may change my mind if I want to learn more about Geller but I doubt I will

read the third in the series. If you are a reader who enjoys a tough hard boiled mystery with lots of bodies the Geller series is a good choice. (Apr. 24/13)

High Chicago will be the 10th book I have read in the 6th Canadian Book Challenge. I need to read 3 more to reach the 13 books to be read in the Challenge.


  1. Bill - I really like the idea of this agency. I know what you mean about the level of violence in some PI stories, so I do appreciate your mentioning that. Still, this series looks innovative. I'm glad you highlighted it.

  2. Bill, I have never before come across as much Canadian crime fiction as I have in the past one year and I am richer for it. I have only read reviews of many of these books, including on your blog. It's refreshing to see Canadian writers take detective fiction to a new level. You already mentioned the possibility of the unarmed Canadian hardboiled detective developing as a sub-genre. I don't recall reading about an unarmed sleuth in American crime fiction.

  3. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I would be interested in your thoughts on the series.

  4. Prashant: Thanks for the comment and kind words on Canadian crime fiction.

    Canadian sleuths without guns is not really a shock. It is difficult to get a permit for a handgun in Canada and they are not routinely carried by people.

  5. Bill, I will definitely have to give this series a try. It is interesting that the detective does not carry a gun but there is a lot of violence. I like the covers for the books in this series, and the idea of each being in a new city is interesting also. Very good review.

  6. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. It does seem contradictory to be violent without the sleuth handling a gun. I hope you enjoy the series.