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.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Governor Sarah Palin and Red Parkas

I have despaired at times while reading the fine Clothes in Books blog of my blogger friend Moira Redmond as she has posted photos and images of women wearing purported winter clothes that would not allow the wearer to survive an hour in actual winter weather. (I exaggerate. They would survive but would soon be enduring frostbite and needing medical attention.)

At last I now have a chance to show some actual winter wear connected to a book that will permit a woman to still look fashionable before the world.

Helen Mercer, the stylish and beautiful governor of Alaska, is an amazing character in Tundra Kill by Stan Jones. As set out in previous posts she was clearly inspired by former Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin.

In the book Jones has Mercer wearing a red Helly Hansen parka. While it is April on the Northwest coast of Alaska winter’s grip is still strong upon the land.

As Ms. Palin is constantly photographed I was able to find photos of her in actual parkas. They are even red parkas. From looking at photos of Ms. Palin in a variety of clothes she loves red.

It seems women in red attract attention in mysteries. I enjoyed Red Mandarin Dress by Qiu Xiaolong and wrote both a review of the book and a post on red mandarin dresses. I wonder if Ms. Palin has a red mandarin dress in her closet of red. She would wear it well and look stunning.

I quibble abit with the lack of anything on her head in her parka photos but am confident that as soon as the cameras were turned off she would have put on a cap or headband.

I think she looks great in her parkas.

In the interest of truth she may not be wearing Helly Hansen parkas in the photos. Here is a photo of an actual Helly Hansen woman’s parka.

Helly Hansen was founded by Norwegian sea captain, Helly Hansen, and his wife, Maren Margarethe. The company has been making outerwear to deal with all climates for almost 140 years.

For the woman headed into real winter weather I can recommend a Helly Hansen parka. Style and warmth for less than $500.
 Jones, Stan – (2009) - White Sky, Black Ice; (2010) - Shaman Pass; (2012) - "J" is for Stan Jones; (2013) - Frozen Sun; (2013) - Q & A with Stan Jones on Nathan Active and Napoleon "Bony" Bonaparte - Part I and Part II; (2015) - Village of the Ghost Bears; (2015) - Radio in Indigenous Mystery Series; (2016) - Tundra Kill and An Exchange with Stan Jones on Sarah Palin and Helen Mercer; Hardcover


  1. This is really interesting, Bill - thanks. I think you're absolutely right that there's clothing with the label 'winter,' that wouldn't really keep a person warm in a full-blown Northern winter. That parka, though, looks like it's genuinely warm as well as stylish. Who says you can't have both?

    Your post actually gets at something deeper, though - authenticity. It's one of those things that authors benefit from checking on if they don't know from experience. For example, authors such as Anthony Bidulka and Gail Bowen (Louise Penny, too) understand about Canadian winters. They show that when they discuss warm clothes such as parkas. I like it best when other authors do the work they need to do to find out if they don't have that sort of first-hand knowledge.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. New fabrics and linings for parkas have made style and warmth possible in the same parka.

    Anthony, Gail and Louise have lived through winters where you must respect the weather. When it is -30 and a biting wind it is a real peril not to dress warmly. Authors from warmer climates can now see what resident of cold weather areas are wearing through searching events and activities in the North. There is no reason for an author to damage their credibility by not researching the clothing worn in the place and season of their story.

  3. Fabulous post Bill - so glad to get the lowdown on the red parkas! And I hope you will continue to be our practicality/fashion adviser over at Clothes in Books. I always think of you whenever I find a picture of someone out in the cold in what is clearly an inadequate outfit...

    1. Moira: Thanks for the kind words. You inspire me with your knowledge and passion for clothes in books. Never fear, I will continue to watch out for the ill clad woman or man heading into winter weather.