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, October 30, 2015

A Woman and Her Gun

In my last post, a review of Tropéano’s Gun by John Brooke, I set out how Chief Inspector Aliette Nouvelle of the French Judicial Police, had been referred to a psychologist because she had not wearing her gun in the 20 years she has been a police officer.

Tropéano’s Gun has psychological involvement with characters beyond Aliette but I will focus on Aliette in this post.

In both books I have read in the series Brooke has dealt with the psychology of police officers.

In probing the minds of police officers Brooke did not look to the superficial – the very evil v. the very virtuous or the dysfunctional v. the supremely competent - in Walls of a Mind. He dealt with the nuances of the relationship between two women in authority, Chief Inspector Nouvelle and Agent Margot Tessier from the French Internal Secret Service.

There are no physical confrontation between the women but there is a subtler conflict of words and attitudes. They challenge the will of each other.

Each has obviously had to deal with male bias on their way to authority but there is no gender solidarity. The women in authority find it no easier to co-operate than men.

Nouvelle projects a moral superiority to the secret agent. Tessier patronizes the police officer.

They inflict wounds of the mind.

In Tropéano’s Gun Aliette’s superiors require her to see a psychologist about her reluctance to carry her gun. While she professes not to wear it because she has never needed to use the gun in her police work her answer is unconvincing.

By not carrying a gun she creates risk for fellow officers if she is unarmed in a dangerous confrontation. The problem arose in Walls of a Mind.

Equally she may not be able to protect members of the public if a situation spirals out of control or arrest a criminal.

What is inside Aliette’s head that caused her to leave her gun in her underwear drawer for 20 years?

To remain an officer she starts carrying her gun and going to the shooting range.

Carrying a gun does not mean she will use it but Aliette starts thinking differently with a gun on her hip. She is a little less careful. She will venture more readily alone into risky areas of the city. She becomes more aggressive.

How some men relate to her is different. There are men who are excited about a woman with a gun.

We usually associate guns with men. Readers can instantly visualize a man with a gun. Do we see a woman with a gun differently?

Jill Edmondson, in her series with Sasha Jackson that is set in Toronto, does not have her tough girl P.I. carry a gun. In an interview she said she will probably have to get Sasha carrying a gun to be credible.

I would say men think little about a gun. In Tropéano’s Gun Aliette thinks a lot about her gun. She has a sense of power from carrying a gun that is absent when she is unarmed.

When Aliette is forced to play in her sandbox it is the psychologist who places a toy handgun in the sand to get her started. Aliette scraps a hole in the sand to the bottom of the box. She associates the blue bottom with the sea. Told by the psy to do as she wants in her world Aliette leaves “the gun at the bottom of the sea”.
Brooke, John - (2014) - Walls of a Mind and Clashing Women in Authority; (2015) - Tropéano’s Gun


  1. Very interesting post, Bill! I'm not a psychologist, nor do I have data to support this, but I think you have a point that women have a different relationship to guns to the one men have. For either sex, though, I think having a gun changes the way people react to life. And I find it very interesting that this is explored in depth here. I also find it fascinating that Brooke explores the nature of a work dysfunction without making it the traditional - almost stereotypical - male bullying.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. When I grew up handling a rifle was just a part of life. No one reflected on having a gun. I think it is different with a handgun and wearing it in a holster.

  2. Guns and gun violence in the U.S. are topics I try to avoid thinking about, but there is so much of it here.
    Michael Moore, the filmmaker, made a film, "Bowling for Columbine," in which he said that Canadians have a lot of guns, but there is hardly any gun violence. I have only heard of two incidents of someone shooting innocent people with the aim of killing many happening in Canada.
    I hope some people are analyzing this.
    Also, here, men with guns is very complicated, and then hunting, bringing their young sons with them.
    Here, it's also tied to racism, with white supremacists, militias, other right-wingers claiming their guns are an inalienable right.

  3. Kathy D.: Many Canadians have long guns for hunting and recreation. Few have handguns. I am glad it is hard to get a handgun in Canada. Canadians will never understand America on this issue.