The victim, Slammin’ Sammy Adler, was beaten to death in a predominantly Muslim area of Montreal. Adler’s Jewish heritage instantly raises the issue of whether his murder was a hate crime.
In the book there is a story of a Muslim father burning to death in a house his daughter who refused to wear her “scarf”.
Recently there was a real life trial in Canada in which a Muslim father was convicted of killing female family members as a matter of “honour”.
In the book the Jewish Adler had been reaching out to a different group of Muslim immigrants. An Afghani family has set up a successful rug business and is adapting to Canadian culture.
Arthur Moscoe, who hired Jonah Geller, to solve the murder had grown up poor in Montreal at a time when Jewish residents were marginalized. Quotas were in place to limit the number of Jews who could attend professional colleges such as law and medicine.
Still Moscoe was a part of the English community of Montreal which dominated Quebec economically. Moscoe built a successful life in the 1950’s and 1960’s. To the working class French he was part of the English elite who controlled Quebec business and rarely learned to speak French. Prejudice lingers. One of the detectives calls Jonah a maudit juif (damned Jew).
Moscoe was a part of a migration to Toronto of many Anglo Quebeckers when the Parti Quebecois gained power in the 1970’s and pursued their separatist agenda.
For some Franco Quebecois, at the heart of the movement is a desire to exclude from the province those who do not meet their French standards.
The book highlights the current tension with Muslim immigrants who do not want to conform to a secular French Quebec society. They refuse to be conform to French Quebec.
Sammy was probing a new political party, Québec aux Québécois, which embraced such a philosophy. The founder, Laurent Lortie, is a proud pure laine (pure wool) a descendant of the early settlers to New France hundreds of years ago. It is another form of elitism.
Lortie seeks checks and balances needed with regard to certain communities:
And yes, since you raise the issue, I speak of Muslims – not all of them, just those who resist our way of life. Who would impose their will if we allow it. If we insist that Quebec will never again be dominated by the Church, we most certainly will not submit to the laws or practices of unassimilated minorities.
And then there are recent Muslim arrivals to Montreal in the book from Syria fleeing the civil war but still connected to the conflict.
Who has the ironic Slammin’ Sammy so disturbed in this volatile mix of culture, religion and politics that they would brutally murder him?