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.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sam Wiebe on His Sleuths

After reviewing the Invisible Dead I wrote an email to the author, Sam Wiebe, with a few questions. I appreciate his quick response and thoughtful answers. Our emails form this post. I recommend readers look up his books Last of the Independents and Invisible Dead.

I recently read and reviewed Invisible Dead for my book blog, Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan. I enjoyed the book.
Last year I read and reviewed Last of the Independents. I consider it an excellent debut.

I am writing to you as I am puzzled about the similarities between the private investigators in your books.  

In Last of the Independents Michael Drayton is a 29 year old former police officer turned P.I. who has an office on East Hastings in Vancouver. He is very opinionated, scornful of authority and obsessive in his investigation. His prime investigation is corporate related but his passion is searching for missing people. That passion focuses on seeking children for parents. I described Drayton in my review as having a “physical presence and an innate stubbornness”. He is single and living modestly. 

Each of the above statements apply to Dave Wakeland in Invisible Dead

I had expected there would be series of books featuring Drayton when I read Last of the Independents. He was an interesting character. I loved his supporting cast of the Hastings Street Irregulars.

When I heard of Invisible Dead I thought it would be the second mystery in a Drayton series. Instead, I learned that Last of the Independents was a standalone and Dave Wakeland would be the sleuth in a continuing series.

Most authors I have read who create multiple sleuths will make them significantly different characters. Going back to the Golden Age of crime fiction Agatha Christie created two of the most popular sleuths ever – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple – who are very different people. Jeffery Deaver has Lincoln Rhymes and Kathryn Dancer. In Canada Vicki Delaney has three different women in Fiona MacGillivray, Molly Smith and Lucy Richardson (while writing as Eva Gates). 

I would be interested in knowing:

1.) Why you created Wakeland when you already had Drayton;
2.) Why they could be half-brothers;
3.) From looking at photos of you how much, if any, of the description of the sleuths is based upon yourself; and,
4.) Will Wakeland’s further cases be set in locales away from the streets of downtown Vancouver.

Thank you for considering my questions. If you are able to reply I would appreciate it if you would advise whether I can put your replies in a post on my blog.

Best wishes on future writing. I consider you one of Canada’s best young crime fiction writers.

Bill Selnes
Hi Bill, 

Thanks for the kind words. By all means use this response on your site, if you want.
1. When I wrote Last of the Independents I wasn't really thinking about doing a series. In some ways I think the ending wraps up Mike's story; he'll go on or he won't, but the major decision in his life is over.
With Invisible Dead I was writing about a more serious subject matter with a slightly more realistic tone (in my opinion, of course), and with an agent and a new editor/publisher to bounce ideas off. I had the luxury of thinking and re-thinking what I'd want to do with a series character, how I'd want to set things up. Wakeland inhabits a world that more closely resembles the real Vancouver, with financial constraints that more accurately reflect what a lot of people in their late twenties/early thirties are going through (again, my opinion only). I also wanted to write someone who was a bit less of a typical hero, less comfortable with violence if no less familiar with it.

2. There are absolutely similarities, but that's also because I wrote both of them! 
3. I don't know; I don't picture either character as looking like me. I sort of follow the lead of Ross MacDonald and Chandler in that the character is a vehicle for the readers to view the story, so tons of description would only create a gulf.
4. The second Wakeland novel, Cut You Down, will be out February 2018, I believe, and will include Vancouver as well as some Eastern and American locales.
Thanks again for reading these, Bill. I appreciate it.
Sam Wiebe


  1. This is really interesting. Thanks to both of you for sharing. I always learn from reading about how other authors go about the process, and what goes on behind the scenes.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I expect we will be reading crime fiction by Sam for a long time.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Bill - it was an exchange with some depth and detail. What a good thing you decided to follow your curiosity.

  4. Moira: Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate Sam's openness.