The Third Riel Conspiracy is my entry for "T" in the Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme hosted by Kerrie Smith at her blog, Mysteries in Paradise.
NWMP (Northwest Mounted Police which is the original name of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Sargeant, Durrant Wallace, is on duty in Calgary.
He has just returned to duty after losing part of a leg and having a hand severely injured.
Despite his physical restrictions Durrant is eager to participate in the Rebellion and feels stuck in Calgary, a boomtown of tents and new buildings, growing rapidly on the prairie. When the forces advancing on Batoche, the small community on the South Saskatchewan River at the centre of the Rebellion, are ambushed his superior sends Durrant a wire to come to help the Canadian forces.
The headstrong Durrant ignores a further wire saying he need not leave Calgary.
By the time he arrives at Batoche the final battle is over and the Metis forces have been routed. In the midst of that battle a Regina teamster, Reuben Wake, has been murdered in the zareba where the Canadian forces are camped.
A captured Metis fighter, Terrence La Biche, has been arrested for the murder. He had in his coat pocket the Colt revolver used to shoot Wake.
While Sub-inspector Dickenson is content to close the investigation Durrant finds the accusation implausible and starts an investigation.
Thought it is a time when forensic science is very limited and there is not a lab in the territory Durrant applies the science of the day to the investigation.
Mainly he explores the lives of those involved and, in so doing, sets out the history of Western Canada that led up to the Rebellion. In my next post I will go into some of the history and my personal connections with Batoche. For those readers unacquainted with Canada it will provide a basic understanding of our past.
What is striking is how the investigation takes Durrant over a significant part of what is now Saskatchewan, eastern Alberta and northern Montana.
Participating with him is a young woman, Charlene Louise Mason, separated from an abusive husband. Their relationship feels more modern than late 19th Century.
The conspiracies are more plausible than the usual fictional conspiracies.
It is an interesting book. I liked the plot which deals with a time and place with which I am very familiar. The mystery is capably set up. At the same time the dialogue did not capture me. There was too much of the characters' personality and appearance in their actions and role in the plot. Wake is such a dark character it is hard to imagine how he could have survived in the real world. I wanted the book to be better because of its subject and location. In the end, I found it an average book. It is worth reading. I intend to read another Wallace mystery to see if the other book in the series is beyond average.
****My connection with the book comes from its location in Batoche which is about 120 km from Melfort and is my favourite historic spot in Saskatchewan.
****The Third Riel Conspiracy is the 2nd book of 13 I have read in the 7th Canadian Book Challenge hosted by John Mutford at the Book Mine Set blog.