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, August 31, 2016

A Slow Start to The Honest Folk of Guadeloupe by Timothy Williams

The Honest Folk of Guadeloupe by Timothy Williams – Occasionally I like to try reading a book no one has recommended and just looked appealing at a bookstore. While in Victoria during our short April trip I stopped at Munro Books, the iconic downtown bookstore, whose owner gave the store to his employees last year. While in the store I went through the crime fiction section and saw a paperback copy of The Honest Folk of Guadeloupe. 

I had not heard of the Anne Marie Laveaud series before seeing the book.

With no recommendation how do you decide whether to buy a book?

As usual I avoided reading the summary on the back as I either find they have too much information or are misleading.

That left the blurbs. I sometimes find the short blurbs useful. Unfortunately, none featured a blogger I would know.

There was a blurb from Mystery Scene on the front cover. On the back were blurbs from BookPage, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and Booklist. None spoke of a book filled with violence. They indicated the book dealt with challenging themes. Publishers Weekly spoke of the “legacies of colonialism …. nuanced racism, and troubled interactions between men and women”.

In the end it was the setting that tipped the balance for purchase. I have read few mysteries set in the Caribbean and none in Guadeloupe. I thought I could learn something of the French island of Guadeloupe by reading the book.

While I have always waited to finish a book to write a review for the blog I am going to break my approach and start my review with this post before I have completed the book.

Up to tonight it had been slow going in the book.

Ms. Leaveaud is a hard working juge d’instruction but I was plodding along with the reading as she plodded along with her investigation.

Initially, she had been called to look into the death of Rodolphe Dugain “better known to most television viewers as Monsieur Environnement”. When police officers arrived at his office to investigate allegations of misappropriation of funds at the Centre Environnement he slipped away and went to the 14th floor and, in an apparent suicide, jumped to his death.

While the official sources are vague Ms. Leaveaud is warned she should not pursue what happened and accept it was suicide.

While unwilling to give up she is assigned to another case that has a higher priority. A young woman, wearing only her bikini bottom, is found dead on a beach. The threat to island tourism has her superiors pushing for a swift resolution.

Ms. Leaveaud is earnest and politically correct.

She works in a challenging atmosphere. According to the book all island men, whether single or married, are obsessed with pursuing every woman they encounter each day.

There is significant casual racism. The lighter the colour of a resident’s skin the better for social climbing on the island.

The opening part of the book provided some glimpses of Guadeloupe but it had not drawn me into life on the island

A 100 pages into the book I was wondering whether to continue to an end that seemed many pages away when I was totally surprised by a plot twist. It jump started my interest in the book and I am reading on.

My next post will advise if the rest of the book proved entertaining.


  1. You make an interesting point, Bill, about what makes us choose to read a book. And I've chosen books based on setting, too. And Guadalupe has a fascinating history. It does sound as though book has an interesting premise, so I hope your interest stays piqued and that the rest of the book is enjoyable. I'll look forward to your next post.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Some reading ventures into the unknown work better than others.

  2. Hope the book continued to be interesting. It's always a risk when one gets a book one knows nothing about and with a new author. But when it works out, that is satisfying.

    But sometimes we just have to take a chance, especially when the setting is an uncommon one for mystery fiction.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I have been thinking I am not taking enough chances in my reading. At the same time I value recommendations as I try not spend a lot of reading time determining if I like a book.

  3. A suspenseful review! That's always the problem isn't it - I don't like giving up on even the most boring book, in case there was going to be a sudden change of pace.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. Well put. I also live in hope as a reader.

  4. As an addendum, if you're looking for light, humorous reading, Carl Hiaasen just came out with a new book entitled "Razor Girl." His books are set in Florida, with zany characters.
    The NY Times gave it an excellent review, highlighting the humor.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks. I have not read him in some time. Maybe it is time to go back to Hiaasen.