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, November 11, 2014

Other Revews of A Door in the River

My last post, a review of A Door in the River, by Michael Redhill writing as Inger Ash Wolfe expressed my disappointment with the book. It was more disconcerting as I had enjoyed the first two books in the series featuring Hazel Micallef. Wondering if I had been unfair or misguided in my review I looked up a number of reviews of the book online. In this post I put up excerpts from the reviews I read. Included are reviews from 3 of the 4 largest newspapers in Toronto (the Star, the National Post and the Globe and Mail).

Yvonne Klein, at the blog www.reviewingtheevidence.com said:

I found it difficult to reconcile the two narratives, even more difficult at times even to visualize the architecture of the setting. The frequent shifts of point of view were also a bit de-stabilizing and added to my fancy that there were several hands at work here. Clearly, I was wrong in my surmise, but still I hope that the creator of the redoubtable Hazel Micallef will be allowed ascendancy over whatever aspect of the author's psyche is responsible for the loopier plot excursions that mark the series. She's a treasure, far to good to waste.

In The Toronto Star the review by Canadian author Jack Batten said:

Then the book identifies the driving force behind the crimes, and our reaction is, first, a feeling that this is preposterous, and, second, a sense of disappointment. But within pages, the narrative is restored, the tipped-over plot righted, all becomes well again. Redhill hasn’t changed the facts of the case. He’s just shown how deft he is at manipulating a good story.

Sarah Weinman in The National Post newspaper said:

Except that where others might close the aforementioned door, Hazel busts it wide open with a few choice questions and observations. That widens the opening even more to a nasty, shadowy world of gambling runs, illegal prostitution, extortion and serial kidnapping, as well as a murderer with a very bloody sort of revenge on the mind. Stones aren’t just left unturned but leave gaping, awful voids exposed to the surface, where the metaphorical cockroaches have nothing else to do but scurry for distant cover. Port Dundas, and Hazel, will be forever changed, psyches scarred in the process; but Wolfe wisely leaves the door open, too, for DI Micallef to win over readers’ hearts in another go-round in exposing the worst of her beloved community’s demons.

Kirkus Reviews concluded:

Darkens steadily from its deceptively quiet opening to its wild and woolly climax. But it’s only the shocking epilogue that reveals Wolfe’s true subject as the murder of innocence.

Luanne at her blog abookwormsworld@blogspot.ca said:

Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! The plot is an absolute nail biter. The tension was so high, I had a very hard time the last eighty pages not turning to the end to see what happened. I managed not to - and I'm glad I didn't. There are some twists I didn't see coming and I was lulled into a false sense of security by the last few pages. (Happily) Caught unawares again.

At mbtb-books@blogspot.ca the review said:
      It's a book I'd like to recommend to people who enjoy good
      characters, but the queasy psychopathic element is limiting.
      Nevertheless, I chose The Calling as a year's best pick in 2009,
      and, I continue to be a fan.
Margaret Cannon, the best known mystery reviewer in Canada for a major paper said in The Globe and Mail:

There are some big jumps in this plot as it morphs from a country killing into international slavery, and readers have to take a few coincidences with grains of salt. Still, the story holds up, the characters have depth and resonance, and the end is chilling.

It appears I am in a minority in my disappointment though Margaret’s review is but modest praise.

Reading the above views has not changed my opinion of A Door in the River. It is not the quality of mystery I expected from Redhill.


  1. Bill, the top two reviews come close to how you feel about "A Door in the River," I think. It was nice to read the different opinions on Michael Redhill's novel. Thanks for sharing them.

    1. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. I usually do not look to other opinions but felt with my negative review I needed to put up some other thoughts for perusal.

  2. I found your review and these comments quite fascinating Bill - even though you are in the minority I think I'm going to go with my gut instinct which is to trust you on this one. I loved the first book in this series and liked the second one a lot too but have wavered over this one - something about the blurb failed to grab me when I was in the book store and I didn't walk away with it. I think I'd rather remember Hazel as she was rather than as some kind of violent avenger. Thanks for your thoughtful review and sharing others' comments too.

    1. Bernadette: Thanks for the comment. I do not think characters should be static but radically different during a book is not what I saw Hazel becoming as a character.

  3. Bill - Thanks for sharing these other reviews. It is interesting to read what others have thought about this novel. It doesn't matter in the least whether you are in the minority; you've pointed out several things about the story that disappointed you. And that, as far as I can see, is enough for you not to recommend the novel.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I appreciate your balanced thoughts on my review.