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, December 29, 2015

The Women of Skawa Island by Anthony Bidulka

The Women of Skawa Island by Anthony Bidulka – The second Adam Saint thriller opens with an apocalyptic scene. A ship in the south Pacific stops near a small island. The passengers are told a cataclysmic event is threatening all the continents of the earth. A group of 112 men and women are transported to the deserted island and left there. Ten years later a yacht visits the island snd a gay couple go ashore to frolic on the beach. They meet 3 young women and a young boy who ask the men to contact the CRDA (Canadian Recovery Disaster Agency).

The CRDA is a part of IIA (International Intelligence Agency) in Canada. The message comes as a shock to Maryann Knoble, head of the Canadian IIA. There is no record within the organization of an operation being carried out by the CRDA on the remote island but the CRDA is the owner of the island. Knoble’s predecessor, Sergiusz Belar, purchased the island before succumbing to early onset Alzheimer’s.

She visits Belar in a nursing home but his damaged mind can offer no more than the cryptic phrase “Rex save Julia”.

While intensely frustrated at her inability to find out what has happened at the island Knoble realizes she cannot leave the call for help unanswered.
Unsure she can trust any active CRDA agent to undertake the task she reaches out to Adam Saint living on his father’s farm near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. When he turns down her request to take on the assignment she entices him to come to Toronto by telling him there may actually be a cure for the terminal brain cancer with which he was diagnosed in the first book of the series. (Knoble continues to cruelly conceal from Saint that he is not suffering from any illness.)

Alexandra, his lovely, though crude and emotionally unstable sister, accompanies him to Toronto.

Saint receives a treatment as promised by Knoble and then leaves with Alexandra for the South Pacific. They travel to Tubuai, another small island, about 50 km from Skawa. It is the nearest inhabitated island to Skawa.

With the aid of a colouful Australian they fly to Skawa where they soon encounter the women and child and arrange for them to be returned to Tubuai.

As they explore Alexandra and Saint determine life on Skawa over the previous 10 years has been horrific. I thought of Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

Saint starts pulling at threads of information. He calls upon the computer skills of his nephew, Anatole, to aid him in the investigation.

In the first book of the series, When the Saints Go Marching In, I had difficulty with disbelief. With The Women of Skawa Island, while ultimately the story came together I found myself really struggling to suspend enough disbelief. In the book there is no contact with the 112 people left on the island for 10 years. The island is a decent size and but 50 km from Tubuai. To think there was no contact was very difficult for me. It is much harder to have a deserted island story set in the 21st century than it was for books set centuries ago as in Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson.

After brief appearances at the beginning of the book and their rescue the women of Skawa island do not become actual characters until approximately 200 pages into the book. I wish they had been given a greater role earlier.
I was glad to see the members of Saint's family playing an important part in the story. They are intriguing characters.
As with all the works of fiction Anthony has written he works into the plot stops in different parts of the world. As a disaster recovery agent Saint has good reason to be familiar with locations as diverse as Estonia and New Orleans.
The whole premise of the recovery disaster agent remains intriguing. They travel the world helping citizens of their respective countries in disaster situations. I wish Saint would undertake such a rescue operation in the next book of the series.
At this time I regret to say Adam Saint has not captured my reading enthusiasm as Russell Quant engaged me. I think The Women of Skawa Island is the weakest of the books Anthony has written.
Adam Saint series - (2013) - When the Saints Go Marching In 


  1. I'm sorry to hear that this one didn't draw you in, Bill. I've always thought the idea of disaster recovery agents to be very interesting, too; and I also hope there is more focus on that aspect of what Adam Saint does. I agree, too, about the need to keep from having to suspend too much disbelief...

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It is not easy to be a thriller and have an essence of credibility.

  2. I do find that setup very intriguing, but perhaps it is not demanding a place on my readinglist right now.

  3. Moira: Thanks for the comment. Regretfully I cannot recommend it as a priority.