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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Connections and Issues with The Taking of Libbie, SD

On Sunday I put up a review of The Taking of Libbie, SD  by David Housewright as my post for the letter “S” in the Crime Fiction Alphabet being hosted by Kerrie Smith at her fine blog, Mysteries in Paradise.  It is a good book. At the end of my review I indicated in my next post I was going to outline my South Dakota connection and discuss a couple of issues concerning the book not related to the plot.

I have a personal connection to the setting of the book. Not only did my grandfather homestead in South Dakota a century ago the community at which he homesteaded, Clark, has numerous similarities to the fictional Libbie.

It is also a town of just over 1,000 people in a farm based area. It is the county seat. It has a high school and a nursing home.

While Clark is located in a different part of the state and I doubt they consider themselves in the type of decline as Libbie was portrayed I kept thinking of Clark as I read the book.

I also have not heard in real life Clark of comparable stories to the busy sexual lives of the fictional Libbie residents.
It was a book for which I had no knowledge when I opened the covers. I bought it at the Once Upon a Crime bookstore in Minneapolis in January when I was looking ahead for books for the Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme hosted by Kerrie Smith at Mysteries in Paradise. It has been some time since I read Tin City by Housewright and when I saw The Taking of Libbie, SD I knew I had my “S”.

Generally I know something of the plot to determine if I want to read the book. For The Taking of Libbie, SD I knew no more than than I had read a book earlier in the series. 

With nothing but the title to guide me my mind tried to anticipate the plot. It seems impossible to keep a completely open mind until a book is read. For no specific reason I expected the “taking” to refer to a form of attack upon the community instead of the “taking” referring to a fraud perpetuated on the town. 

How easy it is to mislead yourself!
The one issue unrelated to the plot that upset me is the cover. The photo of the big city has absolutely nothing to do with the story and is blatantly misleading. The fictional Libbie is a small town of 1,200 people whose whole population might occupy one of the skyscrapers shown on the cover. The story spends but minutes in the opening pages in Minneapolis and little more later in the book. Had they shown the beautiful sunset sky alone it would at least have had a connection. When I started the book I thought it would involve a large fictional South Dakota city such as Rapid City (about 70,000 people) or Sioux Falls (225,000 in the metro area). I have no idea why the publisher chose a cover that deceives readers. (I show the cover again to illustrate the deception.)


  1. Bill - I didn't know your family had homesteaded in South Dakota. I was there once, years ago, and it's definitely not the kind of place where the faint of heart homestead. I give your grandfather credit.

    I couldn't agree with you more, either, about book covers. I really do like it best when they don't mislead the reader. I feel the same way about blurbs, too.

  2. Your story of your relationship to the book and the setting is interesting. And I agree with you about the cover; a cover should have some connection to the story. Same for the title also. Book titles often puzzle me. But this title at least is close to the book.

  3. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I think everyone has interesting ancestries. I am glad I know my own.

    I remember some wonderful posts you have done on blurbs.

  4. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. If a cover is not going to relate to the story I think it should at least not mislead the reader.

  5. Bill, I'm unfamiliar with the author and I guess that will remain so. I agree with your comment re covers. I can't say that this particular one stands out anyway or would make me grab the book of the shelf for further examination.

  6. col: Housewright is a writer who deserves a better cover. It was a good story.