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, June 21, 2016

Why Do so Many Canadian Crime Fiction Series have Cross-border settings?

In reading The Storm Murders by John Farrow and Hungry Ghosts by Peggy Blair back to back I was struck that each involved two settings – one in Canada and one outside Canada. The use of cross border locales started me thinking about the number of Canadian mysteries that are set in Canada and another country.

One of my favourite authors is Anthony Bidulka. Both of his series have cross border settings.

In each of the Russell Quant series we see Russell spending time in Saskatchewan and in some other distant, usually exotic, spot somewhere in the world. In the opening book, Amuse Bouche, Russell is off to France to search for a missing fiancée who failed to show up for a gay wedding in Saskatoon. In Tapas on the Ramblas he is gone to the Mediterranean for a cruise. In Sundowner Ubuntu the destination is South Africa.

Anthony’s second series featuring disaster recover agent, Adam Saint, combines Saskatchewan and Ontario with Saint going on missions outside Canada. In the opening book, When the Saints Go Marching In, Saint goes to Russia.

In Silence Invites the Dead by Scott Gregory Miller the book opens in Rwanda during the genocide of the 1990’s and continues in rural Saskatchewan.

A quartet of successful crime fiction series by Canadian authors have adopted the cross border theme for settings.

Ian Hamilton has created a wonderful sleuth in Ava Lee. She is an accountant who is skilled in Chinese martial arts. While based in Canada her work with “Uncle” takes her to Chinese communities around the world. The variation Hamilton has on the cross border theme is that Ava will travel to multiple countries in the same book. In the Disciple of Las Vegas she goes from Toronto to Hong Kong to Manila to Vancouver to Victoria to Las Vegas to London to Toronto. It can be a challenge for a reader to keep up with her journeys.

Howard Shrier’s tough guy sleuth, Jonah Geller, has travelled between Canada and the U.S. in most books of the series. The titles of Buffalo Jump and High Chicago tell you the American cities of each book.

David Rotenberg’s trilogy, The Junction Chronicles, saw synaesthete, Decker Roberts, going back and forth between Toronto and the United States. In The Placebo Effect the action moves between Toronto and Cincinnati.

Former sports reporter, Alison Gordon, created a sleuth, Kate Henry, who is also a sports reporter. Henry is the beat writer for a Toronto newspaper. She covers the Toronto big league baseball team and is constantly traveling between Toronto and America. Henry, in Night Game, spends time in Toronto and then in Florida at spring training.

Returning to the two books that inspired this post The Storm Murders move between Quebec and New Orleans while in Hungry Ghosts it is Cuba and Northern Ontario.

When I was reviewing The Placebo Effect I thought it unusual to involve multiple countries in crime fiction. When I actually looked at my reading I realized there are, as set out in this post, a significant number of Canadian mystery series that have settings in and out of Canada in the same book.

While certainly a minority of Canadian crime fiction series the cross border settings led me to wonder if Canadian authors face “encouragement” from publishers to include other parts of the world as locales for the cases of their Canadian sleuths.

I had recalled Anthony Bidulka remarking it is harder to get published a series set in Saskatchewan. I asked Anthony about the cross-border settings taking place in Canadian crime fiction. Our email exchange will be my next post.


  1. Oh, I'll be interested in reading your post with Anthony Bidukla's replies, Bill! This is actually a fascinating topic. As I think about it, Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series is sometimes cross-border (McKnight lives in northern Michigan, and sometimes goes into Canada). I think Stan Jones' Shaman Pass involves a cross-border trip, too, between the US and Canada. I'll have to think more about this; it's fascinating - thanks.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I do not recall as many American fictional sleuths coming to Canada as the reverse. While I read and reviewed Shaman Pass I am not sure about a trip from Alaska to Canada.