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.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bones to Pick by Suzanne North

44. – 791.) Bones to Pick by Suzanne North – The third Phoebe Fairfax mystery is set at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. I know the museum well and my next post will discuss the Royal Tyrell. It contains displays on the dinosaurs and their fossils from the Badlands of central Alberta.

The crew of the Calgary T.V. program, A Day in the Lifestyle, is on their way to the museum for the opening of a visiting display when they are delayed by protesters from a small group of creationists, Geologists for Jesus, who are upset about the new display which will feature fossils of what is claimed is a newly found hominid species.

Producer Ella, the ravishing interviewer Candi and camera person Phoebe are dressed in their best for the evening. (Phoebe wears a 1930’s “deep blue Vionnet satin” gown and high heeled evening sandals. I have never seen a camera person in real life so dressed.) For the show they will conduct an interview with paleoanthropologist, Dr. Graham Maxwell, who had discovered the fossils in Africa and then stay for a formal dinner.
The scientist is news as he grew up in Alberta and has chosen that night to announce the name he has chosen for the new species.
The gorgeous blonde Candi leaves men breathless while sometimes affecting an airheaded blonde attitude to those males with overinflated sexual vanity. She will cheerfully skewer those men who consider her mindless.
She deftly puts the 65 year old Dr. Maxwell, whom she describes as an old lech, in his place. At the start of the interview she emphasizes his age by how long it has been since he left Alberta to go to graduate school and that her mother was born that year.
The display at the Museum is compelling featuring two sets of adult bones and part of a child’s skeleton. 

Out from Calgary for the evening is Professor Adam Woodward and his elegant wife, Diana. Professor is an intriguing character. He is conducting a field study of de-evolving man in the forest near Phoebe's acreage. He is spending his summers with progressively less tools as he seeks to live like ever more primitive man.

Phoebe is startled when she finds the leader of Geologists for Jesus, Stan Darling, at the event. 

The surprises continue for Phoebe. Maxwell, Woodward (husband and wife) and Darling were all classmates at the University of Calgary over 40 years ago.

While the evening goes well there is lots of tension within Maxwell’s team. Young scientist, Gillian Collins, personal assistant and more to the great man is distraught over the attention paid to Candi by Dr. Maxwell. Simon Visser, who has worked for Dr. Maxwell for 20 years, is resentful of him. A prolonged argument between Visser and Dr. Maxwell ends the evening.

By morning there has been murder and one of the classmates is dead.

From her discovery of the body to the solution of the mystery North skilfully weaves Phoebe into the investigation in a way that reminded how Gail Bowen works mysteries into the story of Joanne Kilbourn's life.

North has a wry sense of humour. When Phoebe is quite irritated because her boyfriend ends their relationship at a meal before Phoebe has a chance to dump him as she had carefully planned Candi tells her:

      "If you're that out of control, maybe you should seek
      professional help. You might give serious thought to attending
      some classes in miff management. Of course, you realize that
      I'm telling you this as a friend."

I enjoyed how North was able to create an interesting mystery that effectively combined the setting of the Tyrell Museum, an exhibit of fossil research, paleoanthropologists, de-evolution and creationists. It is a book that really evokes Alberta.

My next post will discuss some personal experiences at the Royal Tyrell.
Bones to Pick is the 8th of 13 books for the 8th Canadian Book Challenge hosted by John Mutford at the Book Mine Set blog.


  1. This one sounds right up my street Bill - exactly the kind of murder mystery I really enjoy, AND with Vionnet dresses. I have to agree with you: it sounds a most unlikely outfit for the camera crew.... Look forward to reading about the museum

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. One of the joys of reading is the unexpected from an author. In addition to the vintage Vionnet dress there is a passage on engineers being assigned to study such dresses on how they were structured and strengthened by combination of design and cut of the fabric.

  2. Bill - I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but Blogger wouldn't let me. Here's what I wrote: It sounds like an engaging book. And the context - the discovery of an important piece of ancient history - is really interesting. The characters sound well drawn too. It's good to hear that it's an authentic portrait of Alberta. Sounds like one I ought to put on my list. - Margot Kinberg

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I do not know why Blogger was so unfriendly. It is a good book with an intriguing blend of characters.