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.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe

The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe – Hazel Micallef is back. With the centralization process proceeding Hazel is no longer in charge of the Port Dundas detachment of the OPS. Now 64 she is a senior officer in the detachment.

The opening of the book is back in 1957 in Port Dundas. Hazel is 14 and helping out in the family store. She is an average young teenager with a real conscience. When a 17 year old girl, Carol Lim, goes missing Hazel insists to her friend, Gloria, that they must tell parents and police of their brief contact with Carol on the day she disappeared even though it means admitting they were smoking.

Fifty years later Hazel is doing her best to stem the decline of her 90 year old mother, Emily. The feisty former mayor has little spark left sleeping 16 hours a day and indifferent to everything but T.V. crime shows. Hazel desperately wants more time with her Mom.

Just south of town a golf themed residential development, Tournament Acres, is faltering. Work has stopped on one golf course. No one is sure it will be get built let alone the second course. Some of the new houses are incomplete. Plans have been announced to alter the development. The early purchasers are furious.

I was glad to see 3 maps at the start of the book showing where the plot is taking place. I can follow a story more easily when I have the visual aid of a map.

A human bone is found at the development by a resident. During a second subsequent sweep by 18 officers more bones are found. There is speculation they are connected with the massive former orphanage standing on a corner of the development.

Hazel’s younger brother, Alan, had spent 10 years at the orphanage before he was adopted by her family. Alan is considered slow in the language of the day. He struggled into adulthood.

With the sweep not yet completed the police are ready to wind down for the night when the plot explodes with an officer being kidnapped, shots fired at Hazel and a couple who are newcomers stabbed to death.

At home Hazel is lost about what to do about Emily. One moment her mother has retreated fifty years into the past. The next she is fully in the present.

They visit a specialist in aging:

By the time Emily was welcomed into the doctor’s office, all the fight had gone out of her. Sooner or later in your life, you have to put yourself in someone else’s hands. Just surrender. Hazel watched her mother being walked away. A small figure following a white coat down a hallway.
The investigation into the bones and the kidnapped officer proceed. At the same time there are flashbacks to what happened in 1957.

Hazel is determined to look back into life and death at the orphanage.

I found the book a choppy read. There were three stories intertwined and one of them did not fit well. There are too many issues for one book unless it was going to be at least 800 pages so the stories were not as developed as I would have liked.

The ending did bring all the plot lines together and there was plausible evil in this book.

It was interesting to read of Hazel at 14. She was an earnest girl.

I was surprised that there was not the intensity of investigation into a kidnapped police officer that I would expect.

The topics covered in the book do not lend themselves to sparkle but the story was unrelenting grim both in the past and the present. I find it harder to be engaged by a book that is all dark. It is difficult to find any light in Hazel’s life.

It is a better book than A Door in the River but that is not much praise. I am glad Hazel has returned to the competent professional officer she was in the first two books of the series. I wish she had some happiness in her life.
Wolfe, Inger Ash (Pseudonymn of Michael Redhill) – (2009) - The Calling; (2011) - Who is Inger Ash Wolfe? (2012) - The Taken; (2012) - Being Affected by a Male Author Creating a Female Sleuth; (2012) - Q & A with Michael Redhill on his Pseudonym Inger Ash Wolfe; (2014) - A Door in the River and Other Reviews of A Door in the River and Email Exchange with Michael Redhill on A Door in the River (Part I)


  1. A fourth Hazel Micallef book is out and I still haven't read #2. But I am looking forward to it.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. I expect you will enjoy the second. I will be most interested in your thoughts on #3 and #4.

  2. I know what you mean, Bill, about that darkness. I admit I've not read this one yet ('though I intend to, as I like the series), but I've read books, too, where there seems to be no peace, let alone happiness. It makes me sad to hear of Emily's decline, too, although it's not a shock.

    You make a well-taken point, too, about multiple plot lines. That's not easy to accomplish, and I know what you mean about the choppiness that can result from doing that. But even so, it sounds like the plot lines are credible and that's important.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Emily was such an engaging character it is hard to read of her decline. Her issues are unfortunately credible.

      With #4 better than #3 I have hope that #5 will get back to the quality of #1 and #2.

  3. This is an author that I would like to read, after hearing about the books here - but will start at the beginning.

  4. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I think you will like Hazel. There are not many 60+ women sleuths in crime fiction.