Sunset at 20:47 by Peter Kingsmill - Frank Anderson, “a big craggy faced man” is a contractor at Spirit River on Awan Lake not far from Ottawa in Ontario. He has “away-back-when Metis roots”, owns a good size working boat and a pontoon barge to haul equipment and supplies, is adept with machinery and boats and tools. He can fix and build and is an independent soul who is at ease with his life.
His shop and home are in the same building. His living area reflects a man who appreciates the well designed and well made but is focused on comfort:
Pine walls and open-rafter ceilings, broad clear-coated hardwood plank
floors, warm scatter rugs, a couple of paintings on the walls, a cozy small kitchen, and off to the side what was obviously a bedroom, except it was really just another space, not a closed room.. There was a long built-in desk and bookcases along one wall with a computer at one end …. the main piece of furniture was a gigantic old plank table with a variety of twice-as-old wooden chairs. The table was full of newspapers, magazines and engine parts (except at the kitchen end where there was typically a coffee cup and the plate left over from Anderson’s breakfast).
He fits easily with the coffee crowd most mornings at “his usual table in the back” at the Zoo with other working folk.
Anita Antoine is missing. At 23 she likes to party but she has been gone two nights and has made no contact with her friends or mother. The community is uneasy but not worried.
Anderson and his friend, Arnold Jamieson, who owns the gas station with Marion are members of the Protected Shorelines Committee (the “PSP”). There is some tension between the cottage owners and the year round residents.
That evening Marjorie Webster, pretty and forty-ish, who lives on a nearby island comes to Anderson’s home because “everyone comes to you when they have a lake problem”. Out kayaking she thinks she has found a body in the lake.
Sgt. John MacLeod, a big middle aged officer, organizes a water search. A body is found but, to their relief, it is an elderly man who disappeared the previous year not Anita.
At times there is excessive detail in the book. Half a paragraph can be taken up with describing the starting of Anderson’s boat and preparing to take Marjorie home. Kingsmill loves to describe how things are done and work.
The PSP is concerned about “a huge threat from on of North America’s biggest mining corporations - Robertson Mines - and its plans for a massive expansion of its ore refining capacity here that will almost certainly have a huge impact on our lake”.
They decide to invite a prominent activist and expert on water, Dr. Sebastian Horowitz, to address a public meeting anticipating he will bring major media attention to the issue.
Anderson finds himself interested in Marjorie. She does contract work as a traditional, rather than digital, graphic artist. Her sister Wendy is doing financially well in PR.
Anderson and Marjorie are interested in each other but, unlike most fiction, not in a rush. At 50 he has had a single significant relationship which was a marriage that was soon a divorce. They have an affection that builds.
The search for Anita is proving difficult with little information on the night she disappeared.
Strange events are happening near the Robertson Mines facility.
The story does shift rather abruptly from a mystery with environmental issues to a differently themed mystery. It would have been better had those issues remained the focus of the book
There was no subtlety to the bad guys and barely a flaw in the good people.
It was interesting reading about a working life on a resort lake and the story flowed well.
Few thrillers have a dramatic air and water combination. That part of the ending was well done.
I enjoyed the book