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.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

“Q” is for In Plain Sight by Tara Taylor Quinn

 “Q” is for In Plain Sight by Tara Taylor Quinn – I have not found “Q” the easiest letter to find a title or an author for the Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme hosted by Kerrie Smith at Mysteries in Paradise. At the library I found In Plain Sight and decided to try Ms. Quinn.

Jan McNeil is a senior prosecutor in Flagstaff, Arizona. She has been assigned to prosecute Jacob Hall, a white supremacist with the Ivory Nation, for identiy theft though she really wants to pursue the leadership of the Ivory Nation.

Living next door to McNeil is the rather mysterious Simon Green who is a writer of police procedural manuals though he portrays himself as the author of books on economics.

The best character in the books is Hailey Miller, a little girl prosecuted by McNeil at 8, to whom McNeil has become attached
and wants to adopt. Hailey speaks with the wonderful simplicity of children. She is sure she cannot be adopted, no what McNeil tells her, as she is bad and on parole. (In Canada she could not have been charged. Children under the age of 12 cannot be charged under our criminal law.)

As McNeil prepares her case little things keep happening such as a file gone missing or another file not being delivered. Paranoia, never far from McNeil’s mind, rises for the prosecutor.

A bored Green finds the highlights of his day are watching school children return home after school and meeting McNeil at her mailbox for a chat.

McNeil’s brother, Johnny, is playing a greater role in her life for which she is grateful. It has been some time since they have been close.

I kept waiting for there to be some significant time in court but it gradually dawned on me that In Plain Sight was less a mystery than a romance novel. I can be slow at detecting a romance novel. Relationships rather than mystery drive the story.

How did I not realize the beautiful young troubled prosecutor and the handsome ambiguous man next door feature prominently in romance novels? I expect it is because so many current mysteries feature the beautiful and the handsome.

Still the author does tackle the presence of violent white supremacists seeking to have their narrow minded intolerance take over America.

After finishing the book I was not surprised to read Quinn is also a writer for Harlequin books. If you enjoy romantic suspense you will enjoy the book.

In the book McNeil does present an image of prosecutors that depresses me. It is clear McNeil has lost perspective on being a prosecutor. She has become an avenger viewing it her responsibility to change and improve society. The problems with being an avenger as a prosecutor are that it moves you beyond your role in the justice system and means a loss of objectivity. It is McNeil’s job to present the evidence and the law and let judges decide if someone is guilty. By being willing to add questionable charges to Hall’s original charge McNeil is perverting the system. As I watch television and read of America’s judicial system I fear too many real life prosecutors are becoming avengers. (Aug. 1/13)
My connection to this book is to the legal theme and McNeil, a fellow lawyer, though not a woman to uphold the high ideals of prosecutors simply presenting the law and evidence.


  1. Bill - Thanks for sharing this. I'm not normally one for romantic suspense but this one does sound interesting. I always respect an author who can write an authentic child's voice.

  2. Yes. Your blog strikes a note of reality. In the States, many prosecutors are avengers. That's why there are so many people unfairly in jail, even on death row.

    Prosecutors often won't even look at evidence, which points at suspects other than those who they are charging and prosecuting.

    Evidence is sometimes ignored or locked up somewhere and never presented that would help the defense.

    Thankfully, nowadays the Innocence Project and law schools' law projects and civil liberties' organizations and legal aid groups pursue the truth.

    Unfortunately, lack of funding -- and now, cuts in funding prevents even more objective investigations.
    And defense attorneys, especially public defenders don't have funds and resources to do in-depth investigations for their clients.

  3. Margot: Thanks for the comment. More romance than mystery in this one. Hailey is a great character.

  4. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. Our system does not work well with avenging prosecutors. While I am grateful for the Innocence Project the prospects of correcting wrongful convictions is grim. I do not believe there has ever been a time when a poor accused person had the same access to lawyers as the wealthy.

  5. I agree with you on your last post. When I see people sentenced to long prison terms, even death row, on 1 1/2 hour trial with a public defender, it's so unfair. And that's no criticism of the overworked, underpaid attorneys who defend poor people.

    I know some of them and if they weren't dedicated to the work, they wouldn't do it. But the resources aren't there.

    There have been recent articles that thousands of people all over the U.S. can't afford any legal representation in so many cases, including foreclosures, etc.

    Awful but true. And budget cuts are worsening the situation with legal aid.

  6. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. In Saskatchewan a poor person will be eligible for a legal aid lawyer for defending charges that have a jail term. Sometimes legal aid will pay for a private lawyer at a reduced rate. On serious charges involving the poor I consider our legal system weighted towards the Crown and police because of the disparity in resources available to each side.