In my last post I provided a list of the 16 Canadian authored books that I read for the 10th Canadian Book Challenge. This year’s Challenge collection of reading was among the most varied. While 13 were crime fiction there were a trio of exceptional non-fiction books.
I like to look at the settings of Canadian crime fiction. This year’s books were set:
1.) One in Saskatchewan;
2.) One in Alberta;
3.) One in Newfoundland;
4.) One in Manitoba;
5.) One in Ontario;
6.) Two in British Columbia (one of which had multiple other international locales);
7.) Two in Quebec;
8.) One in England;
9.) One in Indonesia;
10.) One in the United States; and,
11.) One in Morocco and the United States.
What was striking was that 9 of the 13 were set in Canada. Last year 8 of 16 were fully set outside Canada and another 3 partially out of Canada.
Except for this annual post I do not consider whether a Canadian authored book is set inside or outside Canada. I admit to a continuing prejudice to prefer Canadian books set in Canada.
I was surprised that only three involved the United States as a location with but one of the three set fully in America. I am not sure whether Canadian crime fiction authors are resisting encouragement to set books in the United States or whether my reading was an anomaly.
For the first time my favourite read of the Challenge was a work of non-fiction. Letters to a Nation was written by our current Canadian Governor General, David Johnston. I was both fascinated and challenged by the personal letters he has written to Canadians past and present. I was inspired to write a letter to him of review that covered three posts. I was honoured to receive a handwritten reply. We are fortunate to have him as our Governor General.
Second was A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny. Some of her most recent books featuring Armand Gamache have not been satisfying reads. A Great Reckoning was a wonderful return to form with two amazing intertwined plots. The first was a murder at the Police Academy where Gamache has been appointed Commandant. The second involved the origins of a map found in the walls of the bistro in Three Pines. I am really looking forward to the next in the series.
Third was another non-fiction book, Final Appeal by Colin Thatcher. It involved the criminal trial of my lifetime in Saskatchewan in which the author, a former Provincial Cabinet Minister, was convicted of murdering his wife. He was writing his perspective on the case as reflected in the sub-title, Anatomy of a Frame. It was of special interest to me as I knew several of the legal participants and was interested in the decisions made before, during and after trial with regard to his defence.
Fourth was A Candle to Light the Sun by Patricia Blondel. I was captured by the story of a young boy growing up in rural Manitoba during the Great Depression of the 1930’s and then his post-war years. What made the novel truly special was the poignancy of Blondal’s personal story. Diagnosed with terminal cancer in her early 30’s she took three months away from her family to write the novel she had dreamed of writing.