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 20, 2017

Michael Helm Discusses After James as Crime Fiction

In my last post I put up an email letter to author Michael Helm on whether he considered his book, After James, to be crime fiction. I appreciate he promptly responded. Below is his email and another email I sent to him. He advised in a further email I could post his first email.
Dear Bill,

Thanks for getting in touch. It's always good to hear from readers -- I really do appreciate anyone who spends time with one of my books -- and to hear from anyone I'm guessing might be a Rider fan.

I can only say that I was surprised and delighted to be recognized by the Arthur Ellis Awards. Awards nominations bring more readers. It's true that After James, though it employs some of the devices of popular genre fiction, and considers popular fiction as a sort of theme, doesn't conform to the traditional mystery-resolution pattern of most crime fiction (there might be a sort of solution to the mysteries, but maybe it's provisional, and doesn't appear where we expect it to). Maybe the novel's intentions, what it hopes to offer readers, aren't those of traditional crime novels. But of course it's also true that some crime novels share the human aesthetic concerns of literary fiction, and that literary novels often fit genre categories of play against them consciously.

One benefit of awards lists is that they get people talking seriously about books. I'm happy the Arthur Ellis list has begun another conversation.

Good luck with your reading, Bill.


To: Michael

Thank you for your prompt reply.

As you did not mention not posting your reply it is my intention to post it tomorrow night. If you would like it kept private I would request an email tomorrow before the evening.

You are correct that I am a fan of the Riders. My interest in writing and sports led me to start writing a sports column. This year is my 40th season covering the Riders. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy writing about sports. In 2013 I was inducted into the Football Reporters of Canada wing of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. I am the first reporter to be inducted who writes for a weekly newspaper.

In case you are interested I include a copy of this week’s column on the late Don Matthews as a part of this email.

All the best.



  1. Thanks, Bill, for sharing this. I always like insights into the way authors think, and how they see their own work. And it is an interesting question: what actually puts a novel into the crime fiction category...

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Michael was being careful with his wording on what is crime fiction.

  2. Very nice response from Michael Helm. It is surprising that a book that doesn't really fit the definition of crime fiction was nominated for the Arthur Ellis award.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. I freely acknowledge being equally surprised.