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.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

11th Canadian Book Challenge Roundup (Part II)

In my last post I listed the books I had read for the 11th Canadian Book Challenge.

The 8 works of fiction this year were set in a variety of locations. Two took place in Ontario, two in British Columbia, one in Saskatchewan, one in Quebec, one in Nova Scotia and one outside Canada in Massachusetts.

Of the 5 non-fiction books there were four set in Western Canada and one that was set across Canada. More Tough Crimes had cases set in a variety of provinces.

In my mid-year review my favourite fiction at that time was The Winners' Circle. It remains my favourite fiction of the Challenge. The book moves into another generation of the Kilbourn family. Joanne's adopted daughter, Taylor, and two teenage girls who are daughters of Zack's partners have key roles in the book. The Winners' Circle contains a massive surprise in the plot.

Of the remaining books I thought Cut You Down by Sam Wiebe marked the maturing of Sam as a writer.

Full Disclosure by Beverley McLachlin was the most interesting because McLachlin, a first time fiction author, is the just retired Chief Justice of Canada. While new authors hunger for recognition her authorial debut gained vast attention because of her position.  Full Disclosure is a fine first novel and I expect it will get Awards attention in the coming year. While reading McLachlin's book I thought about P.D. James who turned to writing crime fiction after retiring from the British Home Office. James wrote wonderfully plotted books with fascinating characters drawing on her experiences with the British legal system.. Few authors match James and McLachlin is not there but I do hope she goes on to write more legal fiction.

From the non-fiction The Work of Justice is my favourite. The book tells the story of Robert Raymond Cook, the last person to be executed in Alberta. He was convicted of murdering his father, stepmother and five half-siblings.  He went to the gallows stating he was innocent.

Of the remaining books I was not surprised to find Gail Bowen wrote a great how-to book in Sleuth - Gail Bowen on Writing Mysteries. Gail's long career as an academic, she is a retired English professor, is reflected in her advice to aspiring crime fiction writers. You do not need to be worried about her professorial background. The book is not dense academic prose covered with footnotes. It is very readable.

The Mighty Hughes was unique in that I knew the subject of the biography, Ted Hughes. He was a judge in Saskatchewan when I was a young lawyer. It was humbling to read of his commitment to justice in Canada. Many lawyers are advocates for causes. None beyond Hughes have served the ideals of justice as a lawyer, judge, provincial Department of Justice civil servant, Commissioner of multiple public inquiries and the lead adjudicator on resolving thousands of claims for compensation with regard to Indian Residential Schools.

I have no plan for the 12th Canadian Book Challenge beyond trying to read more Canadian crime fiction than I did for the 11th Challenge and getting read the full shortlist for Arthur Ellis Award for Best Canadian Fiction Novel.


  1. Thanks for your thoughts on these books, Bill. I'm not surprised that you found Gail Bowen's work so excellent, both fiction and non-fiction. She is so talented. And as far as your reading plans go? Sometimes the best reading plan is no firmly-set plan at all...

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I have written more on this blog about Gail and her books than any other author.

  2. Yes, you have, and I must read more of Gail Bowen's books. But the to be read lists are out of control.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. There will be a new book in the Joanne Kilbourn series later this summer. On TBR I try not to contemplate how far behind I am in reading the books I have TBR.