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, March 19, 2023

The Couturier of Milan by Ian Hamilton

(12. - 1151.) The Couturier of Milan by Ian Hamilton - The Three Sisters (Ava Lee, May Ling Wong and Amanda
Yee) are in London for the first show of PÖ at Fashion Week. The designs by Clark Po are brilliant and the show is a great success. 

 In the whirlwind after the show they are approached by Raffi Pandolfo from the Ventola Luxury Group (VLG) to meet in Milan with Dominic Ventola, the head of VLG.  

In Italy the decisive Ventola makes an offer to The Three Sisters, Clark and Gillian Po to buy a majority interest in PÖ. They refuse. An angry Ventola, unaccustomed to being rejected, threatens them.

At the same time Ava’s relationship with Maria is in trouble. In recent books their time together has been modest.

When Ventola acts, Ava puts her personal affairs aside. The VLG attack is fierce and overwhelming and worldwide. The intimidation is clearly illegal but there is no time to respond with a court action.

True to her nature and the lessons of Uncle, Ava wants to launch a counter-offensive but how to challenge the giant. VLF has fifteen billion dollars in annual sales:

Product lines that encompassed the very best in leather goods and fashion, jewellery, watches, shoes, perfume, and liquor including premium whiskey and cognac labels and one of the world’s top champagne producers.

In her training for the Chinese martial art of bek mei Ava learned swift attacks upon vulnerable points of the body. Uncle was a master of finding the weaknesses of business adversaries. Ava must find the tender spots of VLG or face a major financial setback. 

She considers Ventola as:

 “....just another man who thinks women were put on this earth to do what they’re told or get run over. There isn’t a man alive who can tell me what to do. And I’m certainly not about to be run over.”

Drawing on a French aphorism, Ava tells VLG it will find out how vicious the women and the man of PÖ will be in defending themselves.

Yet Ava is not going to just lash out against the bully. Uncle has taught her to be analytical and she is a skilled accountant. She is also ruthless.

When a potentially violent meeting is set up Ava attends with her male allies. I was reminded of how Uncle gained the loyalty of his triads by standing shoulder to shoulder in the front rank of confrontations rather than leading from the rear.

Where I found drama lacking in The Princeling of Nanjing there is abundant tension in The Couturier of Milan. The stakes are high. Reputations and millions of dollars are at stake. I was anxious to see how the conflict between the rising PÖ and the established titan of the luxury world, VLG, was resolved. Hamilton kept the pages rolling. I had to know what happened next in the plot.


Saturday, March 11, 2023

A Letter to Marie Henein on Life in the Law

Ms. Henein in a firm photo
Dear Marie,

I have just finished reading Nothing But the Truth and enjoyed the book. I posted a review on my blog, Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan. (A link is  below.)

Our youths were far different. A farm in rural Saskatchewan is the opposite of life in Toronto. My father was a quiet beekeeper / farmer / trapper and my mother a nurse who had never lived outside an urban setting before she came to the farm in 1950. I did visit Toronto as most of my mother’s family resided in Etobicoke and Mississauga.

What was most striking to me about your career choice was your determination to be a criminal law lawyer from the day you entered law school. I certainly did not know what I wanted to do in law during law school and have never known as I have worked in a general practice involving a broad spectrum of legal work as a barrister and a solicitor.

You aptly describe criminal law:

It is a crisis management job. 

I would extend the definition to family law and estate litigation. All three areas have clients in highly emotional states dealing with difficult personal matters.

You wrote of being a criminal defence lawyer except for abit of regulatory prosecution.  My prosecutorial experience has been just as limited.  You said you were “confident that I’m the only prosecutor to have received a thank you card from the person she is prosecuting”. I never received a card as a prosecutor but, after successfully arguing to a judge, intent on being tough on drugs, that a young woman who pled guilty to possession of marijuana for holding her boyfriend’s joint should not go to jail, she told me - “Thank you for everything you did for me”.

You come from an immigrant family. Your articling principal, Eddie Greenspan, was a Jewish man from a small town. Both of you were driven by being outsiders. I can relate. My principal, Ajit Kapoor, was from India. I was from the country and did not know a single lawyer outside law school until I stepped into the office of Eisner, Kapoor and Saretzky to article in 1975.

Where the early years of our careers differed was in the intense, all consuming nature of practice at the Greenspan firm. I had long hours but not the 7 day and 7 night work weeks you experienced. I was encouraged to participate in the community and spend time with my family. Even as a young lawyer I played baseball, had a Saskatchewan Roughrider press pass as I was writing a sports column and learned judo eventually achieving a black belt.

Your respect for Eddie and his partner, Marc Rosenberg, is immense. You said Eddie showed you “how to be a lawyer”. I think the same of Ajit.

After 11 years you left the firm. As I expected there were monetary issues. Most importantly you wanted to be the first name on the letterhead and see if you could make it on her own. I never left on my own. Ajit and I separated and set up our own firm. Over the past 48 years associates and partners have departed while I stayed.

I appreciated your spirited defence of the role defence lawyers play in society, not just the judicial system. 

You set out clearly the structure of the legal system in Canada and express justifiable concern that our system which balances rights and obligations is at risk amidst a social media world and populist politics. I agree that the hard won principle of presumption of innocence is threatened.

In exploring legal principles you did not use cases, especially cases in which you were involved, to illustrate them. I find clients better understand principles when I provide examples. To me principles feel abstract until you see how they are applied.

I wish you had discussed some of your cases. I understand your statement that it is for the clients to tell if they want to tell them. I know a lawyer is very limited in discussing a case with regard to what happens outside the courtroom but trials and decisions are public for sound reasons. I have gained insights into lawyers, judges and our legal system from the discussions set out by lawyers in books such as Tough Cases and More Tough Cases.(Links to reviews and a two additional posts related to the books are below.) A series of Canadian lawyers in those books each discussed a case that was important to them.

Over 70 years ago retired English barrister, Patrick Hastings, wrote The Autobiography of Sir Patrick Hastings. His life was interesting. In addition to being a lawyer, he was passionate about the theatre including being a playwright. He followed with a second book, Cases in Court, in which he explored legal principles and courtroom actions through cases in which he had appeared as counsel. (A link to my reviews is below.) I was fascinated by his focus and confidence. I hope you will consider a second book in which you discuss your cases. 

In your chapter on the numbers of women leaving the practice of law and the challenges facing women in the profession you provided idiotic form letters from managing partners to pregnant lawyers. You show how women in law face direct and subtle indignities. You did not discuss how you as the leader of your firm and the women in your firm deal with the issues set out in the chapter. Have you written about your firm’s approach?

I admire your approach to clothes for a lawyer. I enjoy colour in my personal and professional clothing. I am planning a post on lawyer attire.

I am not sure if you read mystery fiction. Saskatchewan author, Gail Bowen, has a long running series featuring a now retired university professor, Joanne Kilbourn. In her latest book, What’s Past is Prologue, a prominent Toronto woman defence counsel, who has successfully defended a media personality accused of sexual assault by three women, is back in Saskatchewan where she grew up. One of the reasons for her return is to start preparations for a major trial. It is ironic you are now involved in a high profile case in Saskatchewan.

I have been proud to be a defence lawyer. From my first trial 48 years ago representing a young man charged with theft to later this month seeking a just punishment for a young man being sentenced for domestic assault I am reminded of the great responsibility of a defence lawyer. I have always believed our criminal justice system requires strong advocacy for the accused.

Never sure if email gets through I will send this letter by email and regular mail. I will be posting it tonight. If you are able to reply and are willing I would post your response.


Bill Selnes


Nothing But the Truth by Marie Henein

Tough Crimes edited by C.D. Evans and Lorene Shyba and Saskatchewan Cases Involving Wrongful Conviction and Jury Nullification

More Tough Crimes edited by Lorene Shyba and William Trudell and and Intervening and Not Intervening with Ashley Smith Choking Herself

Cases in Court by Patrick Hastings -Begun and Finished

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Nothing But the Truth by Marie Henein

(7. - 1146.)
Nothing But the Truth by Marie Henein - Henein is currently Canada’s best known criminal defence lawyer.

She has always been restless:

Discomfort is a home of sorts for me. I know it, and find myself restless and searching for it the moment I feel myself slipping into any state of ease. The truth is that I feel most acutely when I have pushed into some state of discomfort.

Her father, a large outgoing man, was a pharmacist for 50 years, and her mother is a reserved, lovely woman. Her parents grew up in the Middle East. As Christians they did not fit into the Egypt of Gamal Nassar and became outsiders.

The family went from Cairo to Vancouver to Beirut to Toronto where Henein grew up. As with many children she gains interest in her family backgrounds as an adult.

Growing up family life for the Henein’s  is everything, even stifling at times. Years go by before the tight bonds weaken and Amerikani ways creep into their lives. 

Henein has strong women at the heart of her life - her Teta (grandmother) Nour and her mother, Evelyn.  

Her Teta was at the “centre” of the family. Henein was extremely close to her Teta. Her maternal grandparents lived no more than a block away. The two of them were together every day.

Evelyn, refused to have Henein limited to a traditional life:

My mother’s only aspiration for me was that I be educated and financially independent.

Henein’s love of shopping and of negotiating come from her Teta who was a master negotiator at stores as well as in flea markets.

Her mother loves her children deeply but expected them to have separate lives from parents and other adults. Henein was more interested in adults.

Nour, Evelyn and Marie all have a fierce intensity. Henein speaks of Middle Eastern mothers being convinced they are never wrong.

Her brother, Peter, born 6 years after Henein, is less intense. Henein, as a child, organizes and directs his childhood life.

Illustrating her character:

The only arguments my mother and I had about school were those where she asked me to stop studying. She would fight with me to take a break or come eat or join a family gathering. I missed many such events - even my grandmother’s mandatory weekend family dinners - because I insisted on studying just a little bit longer. And the thing is that I never, not once, enjoyed it.

There are mentions, but no discussions, of friends as a child or a teenager. 

Henein loves her Uncle Sami who leaves for New York City when he is 18. With artistic flair he lives flamboyantly and exuberantly as he drifts from endeavour to endeavour. Every visit to Uncle Sami is an adventure. He lived with “glitter and excess and a good dose of fantasy”.

Entering law school, as I did after 2 years of university, Henein is Sami’s support during her first year of law. He has returned to Toronto to die. He has AIDS. She recounts his hard death. It was a desperate time in the 1980’s for those infected with HIV. There was no treatment. I thought of my representation, starting in 1991, of hemophiliacs and blood transfused who were infected with HIV. Eight of my first eleven clients had died by 1996.

She was with Sami to the end when other family members could not bear his suffering. She planned his funeral and delivered the eulogy. The middle name of her second son is Sami so she could say his name again.

In the book Henein sets out the best and worst of law school.

The best involves critical thinking:

Navigating a case effectively requires an ability to critically think, set aside your ego, and most importantly, challenge your own and your client’s assumptions.

In her next sentence she discusses the worst:

While law school does some of this, it completely fails to teach students about the actual practice of law. Very little time is spent on how to interact with clients, tackle ethical issues, or master the art of negotiation and advocacy.

That was my experience in law school 50 years ago. It was her experience over 30 years ago. The experience has not changed for the Canadian law students of 2023.

Henein is an accomplished storyteller as I would expect from a trial lawyer.

I will explore aspects of her three plus decades in the law in my next post, a letter to Marie.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

The Midnight Lock by Jeffery Deaver

(9. - 1148.) The Midnight Lock by Jeffery Deaver - In an amazing twist to start the book Lincoln Rhyme is humbled in court. A new experience for the criminalist. Trying to be cu
te when being questioned is a poor strategy for a witness, even the most brilliant. A seemingly awkward defence counsel demonstrates some trace evidence might have come from the area of Lincoln’s home and contaminated evidence from a crime scene. A mobster, Victor Buryak, is acquitted of murder.

The “Locksmith” surreptitiously enters the apartments of women. He moves, leaves and takes objects while the women are asleep. He is extremely skilled in lock picking. I learned more about locks in this book than I had ever known before. 

The Locksmith, like a lock, is precisely organized. He carefully plans using surveillance and searches of social media. He appears to be escalating.

To distract public attention from the unsuccessful prosecution the Mayor’s Office forces the NYPD to cease using consultants. Officers contacting Lincoln are threatened with obstruction of justice charges.

Buryak returns to operating his crime business. He eschews the crudeness of such mob staples as armed robbery and prostitution. He relies on crews of researchers and hackers. He sells informateion. Known as the “Godfather of Information,” After acquittal Buryak sits in his lavish home drinking tea and plotting revenge against the “Chemist” - Lincoln Rhyme.

The Locksmith has been a “peeper” since a boy. He has an obsession to secretly watch people. As a teenager he made “Visits”. Sometimes observisng, other times leaving items inside homes or vehicles. He knows he is mentally disturbed. 

As the Locksmith, he is wreaking havoc with the minds of women. He is as creepy a figure as I have encountered in crime fiction. Who does not fear the silent night intruder?

On each New York visit he leaves a fragment of the same page from a tabloid newspaper, Daily Herald, upon which he writes a phrase. 

What connects the Locksmith’s visits? The answer is logical but devilishy difficult even for the brilliant Rhyme.

The Buryak subplot disappears for most of the book.

Another, rather bizarre subplot, involves Verum, a self-proclaimed prophet of truth upon the internet, spreading conspiracy theories of secret government interventions through the “Hidden”. I thought it a distraction even when it was connected to the main plot.

As expected in a Deaver book the twists increase as the end nears. I saw a couple coming but most surprised me. The third last was not credible and a little disappointing. The second last was no surprise. The last was unexpected. None of them were needed. Still, Deaver is so accomplished at twisting the story.While I see a surplus of twists Deaver makes the pages flow easily, there is always unexpected information and interesting villains. I will continue to read Lincoln Rhyme books. (Feb. 28/23)


Deaver, Jeffery – (2000) - The Empty Chair; (2002) - The Stone Monkey; (2002) - Mistress of Justice; (2003) - The Vanished Man; (2005) - Garden of Beasts; (2005) - The Twelfth Card; (2006) - Cold Moon(Tied for 3rd Best fiction of 2006); (2008) - The Broken Window; (2010) - The Burning Wire; (2013) - The Kill Room; (2014) - The Skin Collector; (2017) - The Steel Kiss; (2019) - The Burial Hour; (2021) - The Never Game and Handwritten Notes Are the Best

Friday, February 24, 2023

A Three Book Problem by Vicki Delany

(8. - 1147.) A Three Book Problem by Vicki Delany - Gemma Doyle, Jayne Watson and Detective Andy Ashburton have left the bookshop, the tearoom and the police department for a weekend of catering a gathering of Sherlockians at Suffolk Gardens House. It is a beautiful, though fraying, English style manor in West London, Massachusetts. Gemma will spend little time in the kitchen for, as she admits, she has “meagre” cooking skills. Her role will be a hostess, server and supplier of books, games and puzzles from the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium.

The wealthy David Masterson, the host and organizer, is an aficionado of The Great Detective. His “accent is upper-class New York City”.

All working that weekend have been assigned roles and names suitable for an English country house weekend in the late 19th Century. As house staff David has brought his niece, Annie Masterson, a struggling actor to be the maid and his unemployed nephew, Billy Belray, to be the butler / footman / bartender.

Formal attire is expected of the guests. Gemma’s outfit for the opening cocktails is:

…. peach satin, very 1920’s, coming to just below the knee, with straight lines, a dropped waist, and a tassled hem. I paired the dress with a long double strand of fake pearls, my own pearl earrings, and above-the-elbow white gloves.

The guests are a motley crew.

Donald Morris, an esteemed though financially challenged local, is a devout Sherlockian.

Miranda is tall, slender and “sharp boned” befitting a former model. She has virtually no knowledge of Holmes.

Local newspaper reporter, Irene Talbot, is replacing Gemma’s Uncle Arthur, a knowledgeable Sherlockian who has abruptly gone to Spain. She has recently indicated she has aspirations of being a Sherlockian.

Steve Patterson is in his 60’s. A buzz cut former Marine, he is an expert on John Watson’s military career.

Jennifer Griffith, a frizzy haired buxom woman from L.A., is well versed in the Canon.

Cliff Mann is a dealer in letters and first editions with a modest knowledge of Holmes.

Kyle Fraser is a young musician from New York who barely recognizes the name of Sherlock Holmes.

Those guests with enough knowledge are immediately at odds, bickering rather than discussing, such issues as which actors were the best Holmes and Watson in early Sherlockian films. Others concentrate on drinking.

Gemma and I are puzzled about the collection of guests. Why are so many clearly not Sherlockians? 

Gemma keeps noticing the superficial maintenance of the grand home, built in 1965, which is for sale including furnishings.

With faux home and faux staff and diverse guests the scene is set for murder and irony.

Gemma’s powers of observation are at their highest when she meets the owner of the manor: 

He was in his late fifties, with slicked-back silver hair, a pale face and small dark eyes. The jacket of his blue and gray suit was open to show a crisp white shirt and a black leather belt. His blue silk tie was shot with pink threads, and his shoes were handmade Italian loafers. The suit cost in the two-thousand-dollar range, I guessed, but that money had been spent some time ago. The belt strained under his belly and the trousers were too tight around his plump rear end. A few threads were loose in the cuffs of the shirt, the tie showed traces of a grease stain he’d not been able to get fully out, and a thread of the hand applied stitching on the right shoe was coming loose. The hair at the back of the head was sloppily cut, and he was relying on an excessive amount of hair product, rather than expert styling, to keep it frozen in place. Mr. Daniel Steiner had fallen upon hard times indeed, and he was desperately trying to keep up appearances.

Little time is spent in the tearoom and bookshop though there are nice vignettes of a young sales clerk, Ashleigh, unnerving Gemma with her themed work wardrobe and talent at observation.

Gemma is more discreet than in earlier books in the series. She has learned to keep some of her “observations” to herself. She will “assist” Ryan and Offieer Louise Estrada with their inquiries but with more information and less direction on how to investigate.

A Three Book Problem is a good book but it does not sparkle. The ending had a nice twist that was unconventional. The no Hollywood conclusion is appreciated.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Law Matters in What's Past is Prologue

What’s Past is Prologue by Gail Bowen revolves around a prominent Toronto lawyer, Libby Hogarth, who grew up in Saskatchewan. The book deals with numerous legal issues. Several caught my attention.

Hogarth is spoken of reaching the top tier of Canadian lawyers. I had the impression “the top tier” meant Toronto lawyers. While perception, fed by major Canadian media concentrated in Toronto, would create such an impression I disagree it is accurate. There are “top tier” lawyers across Canada. I do acknowledge that when I represented infected hemophiliacs and blood transfused at the Royal Commission into the Canadian Blood System in the 1990’s I had some trepidation on how I would fare with Toronto lawyers. I should not have been surprised that I found some to be exceptional, some to be good, some not better than average. I was able to be effective. There was no reason to have insecurity because I was from Saskatchewan.

As set out in my review, a link is below, Hogarth had a significant discussion with Eden Sass on recanting her testimony at the Delio trial. Later she had a conversation with Joanne and Zack that “the focus should be just on getting Eden to pull back on her plan to recant”.

In real life Hogarth should neither have spoken with Sass about recanting nor discussed with Joanne and Zack not recanting. She should have simply referred her to Zack for advice. She was acting contrary to the interests of her former client. 

She is concerned over Sass damaging her reputation and even facing criminal consequences by recanting. In the thorny world of law and sexual assault what is the responsibility to encourage truth. Delio’s reputation, despite acquittal, has been savaged. Is there not a benefit to the community if the truth that a woman made a false accusation comes forth?

There is concern her reputation will be sullied if she recants and tells the truth. I did not see a comparable discussion about the accused’s reputation. Sass is concerned about Delio not wanting to live.

Canada is wrestling with the consequences from a General in the armed forces being acquitted of sexual assault and then in a civil proceeding the accusations were ruled unfounded on balance of probabilities.

There is reference to a fictional Saskatchewan lawyer who “died the death trial lawyers dream of; a massive heart attack seconds after the jury comes in with a not guilty verdict for their client”.

I state categorically it is no dream of mine to die in the courtroom.

In real life, a few years before I started my career, a Saskatchewan lawyer, J.G. Crepeau, died in a Prince Albert courtroom. 

Some years ago one of my associates was dismayed when a witness he was questioning fainted.

Taylor, Joanne’s daughter discusses when a painting is done:

“.... With every painting, there comes a moment when you have to say, This is the best I can do. It’s time to walk away and let other eyes see what I hope they will see. Thank you for being here at that moment for me.” 

Crafting a written legal argument comes with such a moment. The challenge is in realizing the moment as you are caught up in trying to make the argument perfect. A few drafts are useful but endless drafts dilute the argument. I see the moment has come when the narrative is clear and the argument flows.

Gideon Sass is a loud aggressive 62 year old lawyer derisively referred to by Zack as an “ambulance chaser”. He is notorious for starting class actions. His two sons are lawyers and one is disbarred. There is a legal family who could have inspired the character and his sons.

I would be happy if every Joanne Kilbourn book concentrated on the lawyers in her life.


** Bowen, Gail – (2000) - Burying Ariel (Second best fiction of 2000); (2002) - The Glass Coffin; (2004) - The Last Good Day; (2007) – The Endless Knot (Second Best Fiction of 2007); (2008) - The Brutal Heart; (2010) - The Nesting Dolls; (2011) - Deadly Appearances; (2012) - Kaleidoscope; (2013) - Murder at the Mendel; (2013) - The Gifted and Q & A; (2015) - 12 Rose Street; Q & A with Gail Bowen on Writing and the Joanne Kilbourn Series; (2016) - What's Left Behind and Heritage Poultry in Saskatchewan Crime Fiction; (2017) - The Winners' Circle(2018) - Sleuth - Gail Bowen on Writing Mysteries / Gail the Grand Master - (Part I) and (Part II); (2018) - A Darkness of the Heart and Email Exchange with Gail on ADOH; (2020) - The Unlocking Season; (2021) - An Image in the Lake and The Fourth "F" is Forgiveness; (2023) - What's Past is Prologue  

Thursday, February 9, 2023

What’s Past is Prologue by Gail Bowen

(6. - 1145.) What’s Past is Prologue by Gail Bowen - I was excited that the 21st Joanne Kilbourn book is
focused on lawyers and legal issues.

Libby Hogarth successfully defended Jared Delio against criminal charges of sexual assault by three women. Hogarth grew up and was educated in Saskatchewan The complainants had connections with Saskatchewan. The trial was in Toronto. She demonstrated in cross-examination the weaknesses in their evidence and Delio was acquitted.

The character of Hogarth is clearly patterned on Marie Heinen who successfully defended Jhian Ghomesi on charges of sexual assault in Toronto. There were three complainants in the real life case. By chance I am currently reading a memoir by Ms. Heinen.

Untrue “lurid stories” are spread after the trial “about what Hogarth did to get ahead and stay ahead”.

Hogarth and Zack Shreve, Joanne Kilbourn’s husband, articled, a few years apart, for the same lawyer after graduating from law school. They remained friends.

Three years after the Delio trial Hogarth is coming to Regina to give the Mellohawk lecture called “Abracadebra” on creating “a community that understands that rape is an act of violence, that no means no and that a man doesn’t have to prove his masculinity by forcing himself on a woman”.

Since the lecture was announced Hogarth has been receiving weekly a threatening anonymous email from Amicus Curiae (friend of the court):


Hogarth comes to see Zack as one of the complainants, Eden Sass, in the Delio case has called Hogarth wanting to recant her evidence and say she lied at the trial. Hogarth, Zack and Joanne discuss ways to convince Sass not to recant. The conversation made me uncomfortable as I will discuss in a further post.

That evening, New Year’s Day, Zack and Joanne celebrate their 9th wedding anniversary at a lovely dinner party. The table is decorated with glass pots of newly planted wheat which is several centimetres high. The pots are so unique and cleverly Saskatchewan.

Eden and Seth Wright, the brother of Zack’s former partner Margot Wright Hunter, are examples of “outsiders, children who never felt they were truly a part of the family they were born into”. Kevin Coyle, a friend of Joanne, speaks of the consequences by referring to a study called The Long Reach of Childhood.

The title of the study resonated with me. In What’s Past is Prologue the phrase refers to adults whose childhoods were isolating. It equally applies to happy childhoods. Whether positive or negative, childhood reaches out through our whole lives.

Earlier books in the series have also explored the consequences of childhood. Joanne and her best friend, Sally Love, had difficult experiences that extended into their adult lives.

Taylor entered the series, coming to live with Joanee, after her parents were murdered.

Joanne’s children endured the violent death of their father.

Bowen powerfully states they are  “… defining moments in life, the moments that last only a second but determine the course of forever”.

After reading the passage I was lost in memories of such moments in my lifetime. More are painful than are joyful.

I was not ready when murder occurred. I had been caught up in the lives of the characters. As with the best books in the series there need not have been a murder to keep me absorbed.

What’s Past is Prologue is an excellent book. Of course, I am biased. Any book with Saskatchewan lawyers among the primary characters is bound to win my approval. I appreciate the original motto of Zack’s firm:

“A Reasonable Doubt for a Reasonable Price”

Gail Bowen has reached a personal milestone in that she is now 80. Some years ago in an email exchange she said she was not sure how long she would continue the series. I said P.D. James wrote mysteries into her 90’s. I am optimistic we can look forward to at least another decade of Joanne Kilbourn mysteries.


Bowen, Gail – 2011 Questions and Answers with Gail2011 Suggestions for Gail on losing court cases; The author's website is http://www.gailbowen.com/ - (2011) Deadly Appearances; (2013) Murder at the MendelThe Wandering Soul Murders (Not reviewed); A Colder Kind of Death (Not reviewed); A Killing Spring (Not reviewed); Verdict in Blood (Not reviewed); (2000) - Burying Ariel (Second best fiction of 2000); (2002) - The Glass Coffin; (2004) - The Last Good Day; (2007) – The Endless Knot (Second Best Fiction of 2007); (2008) - The Brutal Heart; (2010) - The Nesting Dolls; (2012) - "B" is for Gail Bowen; (2012) - Kaleidoscope and Q & A on Kaleidoscope; (2013) - The Gifted and Q & A and Comparing with How the Light Gets In; (2015) - 12 Rose StreetQ & A with Gail Bowen on Writing and the Joanne Kilbourn Series; (2016) - What's Left Behind and Heritage Poultry in Saskatchewan Crime Fiction; (2017) - The Winners' Circle; (2018) - Sleuth - Gail Bowen on Writing Mysteries / Gail the Grand Master - Part I and Part II; (2018) - A Darkness of the Heart and Email Exchange on ADOH; (2020) - The Unlocking Season; (2021) - An Image in the Lake and The Fourth "F" is Forgiveness