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.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bill's Best of 2016 Fiction

2016 was a good but not outstanding reading year for me. I read many fine books but not as many great books. I choose to wait until the very end of the year before making my choices of the Best.

For Bill's Best Fiction of the year I have not and will not hold myself to choosing books written in the given year. I set out my personal criteria as my favourite book this year was published in 1995.

My favourite trio of Fiction books of 2016 were:

1.) Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson - I like many but love few books. I loved reading Snow Falling on Cedars. In my review I found the book "lyrical and compelling". The writing was beautiful.

The story of a trial of a Japanese American charged with murdering a white American on a fictional island in Puget Sound after World War II involved a retrospective examination of the process and consequences of the internment of Japanese Americans during the war.

While the plot fits within my personal definition of a legal mystery it is far more the story of people during a tumultuous time in American history.

Having watched the drama and vitriol of the last fall's American election it is clear looking from the North that race and ethnicity and immigration are as much issues in the United States of 2017 as they were over 70 years ago in World War II.

My enjoyment of the book was enhanced by the random way in which the book came to me. My younger son, Michael, found a battered copy in a used bookstore / café in Puerto Vallarta and thought I would enjoy the book. It was his best gift of the year.

2.) A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny - I consider A Great Reckoning a classic. I think it will be long remembered as one of Penny's best works.

After some recent disappointment with the Armand Gamache series A Great Reckoning I was very glad Penny returned to a plausible plot and a clever realistic position for Gamache as the Commander of the Academy for training new members of the Sûreté du Quebec.

What made the book truly memorable was the search for the meaning to a map found within the walls of the bistro in Three Pines.

The heart wrenching revelations of that hand-drawn map explained the impossibility of Three Pines being absent from current maps.

In a year of triumph for her writing, A Great Reckoning spent weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, Louise endured great personal sorrow in the passing of her husband, Michael, from complications of dementia. The word image she provided in an article after his death of her holding hands with Michael as he died will long remain with me.

3.) The King of Fear by Drew Chapman - I have grown discouraged with many thrillers but The King of Fear encouraged me that there are still writers creating intelligent thrillers.

In the book his hero, Garrett Riley, battles a scheme to attack America's financial system.

In my review I wrote that Chapman has shown that the greatest dangers to America are not the isolated attacks of Islamist terrorists but rather technological warfare.

In light of recent revelations concerning Russian hacking in the elections of 2016 Chapman was prescient in his theme.

I was also impressed that Chapman gave Reilly a great adversary in Ilya Markov. Too few thrillers in recent years have provided a real foe.

For 2017 I am off to a good start with The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly.


  1. I can see why you made the choices you did, Bill. I admit I've not (yet) read the Chapman. But the other two? Outstanding authors and it doesn't surprise me that they made it to your 'best' list. I hope this year will have a bumper crop of excellent reads for you.

    1. Margot: Had not thought about two of the books being famous and widely praised and authors with multiple books. It is probably more difficult than I realized for new authors to get on "Best" lists.

  2. Nice choices, Bill. I want to read Snow Falling on Cedars ... maybe this year. And I definitely am going to read one or two books by Michael Connelly this year.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. I hope you will consider The King of Fear. I think it is a book you could appreciate better than myself with your experience in information technology.

  3. A modest number but an elite collection! I agree with you about Snow Falling - a great, memorable book, with something important to say. It has lingered in my mind.

  4. Moira: Thanks for the comment. When I started writing reviews I decided to limit my Best of the Year per category at 3-4 books. Maybe it is my sports background that thinks of 1st, 2nd and 3rd.