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, September 26, 2023

A Sunlit Weapon by Jacqueline Winspear

(32. - 1171.) - A Sunlit Weapon by Jacqueline Winspear - In the fall of 1942, young women, members of the Air Transport Authority (ATA), are ferrying fighters and bombers around England. When bored they may do some stunts. They are admired and disdained by men.

Most of the women, such as Jo Hardy, are upper class. Only women from well-to-do families could afford to take flying lessons before WW II.

Hardy becomes involved in a bizarre incident involving someone shooting at her ferrying a Spitfire and then rescuing a bound up black American soldier, Matthias Crittenden. Winspear rarely veers into the incredible but Hardy’s story and the Americans involved did more than require a suspension of disbelief.

Maisie Dobbs is asked to investigate as Hardy is worried how Crittenden will be treated in the segregated American army. Though she has amazing contacts in Inspector McFarlane from Scotland Yard and her husband, Mark Scott, I doubt in real life she could have achieved investigative opportunities from the U.S. Army.

Condemnation of American segregation in the American Army, while laudable, becomes heavy handed.

Maisie is spending more time at Chelstone Manor with her adopted daughter, Anna, who is displaying some signs of psychological distress. Maisie soon realizes the problems stem from Anna’s treatment at school where there is a new headmistress.

How Maisie and her new husband, Mark Scott, both prominent individuals wrestle with the schooling of their child was more interesting than the implausible pursuit of a trio of villains in rural England.

Bringing Eleanor Roosevelt into the story was inspired. The First Lady is visiting England and her security detail is uneasy with her penchant for heading into crowds or impromptu speaking to members of the public.

I would have found the plot more interesting had the role of the ATA ferry pilots been emphasized and the participation of the mysterious evildoers decreased, even eliminated. 

I felt the story of the women pilots was fascinating but to include them took contortions.

Winspear piqued my interest when she delved into the files of her old mentor, Maurice Blanche, for assistance in a situation of “the personal mirroring the professional” - a circumstance where “something emerging at home that is currently evident in the case at hand”. Maurice urges compassion. Maisie, the mother, finds compassion difficult in dealing with a woman who has brought pain to Anna.

Reconnaissance aerial photos taken from a Spitfire play a cameo role. I was reminded of Bird’s Eye View by Elinor Florence where a young Saskatchewan woman becomes a highly valued reconnaissance photo evaluator.

With Maisie now married to Mark Scott she has yet another surname to add to her birth surname of Dobbs and her first marriage where she was Lady Compton.

Maisie’s personal life has always been important to the series. In this book I thought it carried the plot. I found myself more eager to find out what was happening to Anna and Mark than the mystery investigation. Adjusting the mystery to a more credible storyline would have made A Sunlit Weapon a great book

Winspear, Jacqueline – (2008) - Maisie Dobbs(Best fiction of 2008) (2008) - Birds of a Feather; (2009) - Pardonable Lies; (2011) - Messenger of Truth; (2012) - An Incomplete Revenge; (2012) - Among the Mad; (2013) - The Mapping of Love and Death; (2016) - A Lesson in Secrets; (2016) - Elegy for Eddie; (2018) Leaving Everything Most Loved; (2020) - A Dangerous Place - Part I on Maisie's life since the last book and Part II a review; (2020) - A Journey to Munich; (2021) - In This Grave Hour; (2021) - To Die But Once; (2022) - The American Agent; (2023) - The Consequences of Fear

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Hercule Poirot comments on Tom Mead's sleuths Joseph Spector and George Flint

I, Hercule Poirot, have been invited by Monsieur Guillame - I prefer the elegant Guillame to the prosaic William - Selnes to comment on Monsieur Joseph Spector and Inspector George Flint, the sleuths in Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead much as my esteemed colleague, Nero Wolfe, and I did for Monsieur Selnes in a post upon the Old Man in the Corner, the thoughtful sleuth of Baroness Orczy.

Monsieur Selnes has provided me with a copy of his review of Death and the Conjuror. In the words of Monsieur Wolfe I found the review satisfactory. While the review was moderately helpful for assessing the sleuths I, the diligent man that I am, carefully read the book myself.

Let me start by putting to bed or is it rest - the English language can be so clumsy - the calumny upon Mrs. Christie, repeated in the book, that she may have faked her 11 day disappearance back in 1926. Mon Dieu! Nothing could be further from the truth! Ms. Christie was enduring an emotional upset. I shall not descend into the gutter to explain the source of her mental anguish but let me be exceedingly clear. She was ill, not a faker.

Getting back to Monsieur Spector and Inspector Flint. 

I heartedly concur with the good inspector that the number of deaths in locked rooms has reached the level of an epidemic in London. It is time the many sleuths of this great city combined with the police officers at the Metropolitan Police - I abhor the contraction of the Met - and Scotland Yard to promptly solve these crimes and deter the commission of further locked room murders.

I admit it took me a while to realize Inspector’s Flint’s relationship with Monsieur Spector may have been modelled on my connection to the good Inspector Japp. Indeed, Inspectors Flint and  Japp are equally dogged - my colloquial English is improving - in the pursuit of the wicked. With the aid of a sleuth possessing a superior intellect they can solve the most difficult of murders.

I have some admiration for the apparel of Monsieur Spector. While nothing can compare with a finely tailored three piece suit and hat, he does dress with a degree of flair. Though his black velvet suit is vulgar he carries a silver headed cane. I do appreciate the drama of him wearing “a black cloak lined in crimson silk”. I have secretly aspired to such a cloak. If only Mrs. Christie would listen to my entreaties. It would go so well with the moustache I have so carefully cultivated. She is so stubborn.

Monsieur Selnes has advised me that he wishes the sleuths of the 21st Century dressed with the style of Monsieur Spector and myself. He confided that he would love to own a black cloak with crimson silk lining.

Were Monsieur Spector and I to meet we would enjoy smoking together. The intense smoke of my tiny Russian cigarettes would be matched by the pungent smell of his “narrow, dark cigarillos”.

I was dismayed that so little of Monsieur Spector’s background was revealed to explain his experience with the deductive process. I am positive there are tales of intrigue in his past. 

Monsieur Spector’s process of deduction is sound. It is clear he has spent a lifetime using his little gray cells.

I was surprised when Monsieur Spector referenced the categories of locked room murders set out by John Dickenson Carr. I have never needed to draw upon the approaches of other sleuths and their authors but if a sleuth needs help Monsieur Carr is a master of the locked room murder.

I, myself, would also have started by analyzing how the killer left the locked room.

It is interesting, as with many sleuths and authors, how little attention is paid to the actions of the housekeeper in the book. While not a servant she has the anonymity of domestic staff.

I do not care for the conjuror’s tricks of Monsieur Spector. Illusion is not a part of my life. Deduction is the essence of a sleuth. I would prefer magic be kept upon the stage. Monsieur Selnes advises me he enjoyed the clever deceptions of Monsieur Spector.  I sigh in exasperation. 


Mead, Tom - (2023) - Death and the Conjuror

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead

(31. - 1170.) - Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead - Joseph Spector was a music hall conjuror. In 1936, now in his mature years, Spector has adapted his “tricks” for a play, Miss Death

Dr. Anselm Rees has left, more accurately, fled Vienna for London. While an old man he continues to treat three patients for psychiatric problems. I thought of Sigmund Freud.

An accomplished musician, Floyd Stenhouse, suffers from nightmares. Dr. Rees has been working with Stenhouse on understanding his dreams.

A well known theatre actress, Della Cookson, seeks help from Dr. Rees concerning her kleptomania.

A novelist, Claude Weaver, has been seeing Rees about worries he was losing his mind as he occasionally suffered from a “fugue state” in which, while still functional, he loses memory of what he was doing for several hours.

Dr. Rees is killed at home in his office near midnight. An unknown man has come to see him. Shortly after he leaves, Rees has a phone call. His housekeeper, ear pressed to the office door, can hear him speaking. Minutes later, he is found dead with his throat slashed. The housekeeper has neither seen anyone exit the office nor the house. Both the office door and windows were locked on the inside with the keys in the locks. 

It is a locked room puzzle for Inspector George Flint who is not impressed. In a deft little moment of satire Flint laments “a burgeoning subgenre of crime, which had rolled over the city like fog. These were the ‘impossible’ crimes - typically high-society affairs, where men in locked rooms were killed under impractical circumstances”.

The same evening as the murder, a painting has been stolen from an English theatrical producer, Benjamin Teasdale, during a party at his home. The painting was in a locked chest in a locked room.

Dr. Lidia Rees, the daughter of Dr. Rees, is unusually composed after her father’s death.

Flint looks to Spector to help him unravel the mysteries of locked room cases. The inspector is a very practical man. Imagination does not come easy to him.

Alibis abound making it difficult to focus on a suspect.

Mead’s prose flows smoothly and I glided through the book. It is a good book. Mead is a clever man. The solution is suitably complex. As usual, my efforts to understand how murder was committed and how the killer escaped the locked room were futile. I could have used more background on the characters though I appreciate the mystery was solved in 255 pages.

Mead refers to several Golden Age sleuths in the book. In my next post Hercule Poirot analyzes Spector and Flint for me though they have yet to meet. There is more than a passing resemblance in the relationship of Spector and Flint to the hugely successful Poirot and Japp.


See also - Hercule Poirot Comments on Tom Mead's Sleuths Joseph Spector and George Flint

Friday, September 8, 2023

Black Fridays by Michael Sears

(30. - 1169.) - Black Fridays by Michael Sears - Jason Stafford had a beautiful wife, a young son and a lucrative Wall Street position when he did not correct a trading error. He succumbed to temptation deferring settlements on losing trades long into the future hoping future successes would cover the losses. Two years later there were $500,000,000 in phony profits. A two year stay in a Federal prison followed.

Before heading to prison he had manipulated a breakup of his marriage to transfer assets to his wife, the luscious Angie. Upon release he finds Angie comfortable in Louisanna without him.

While he is prohibited from trading Weld Securities, a medium size firm, hires him to determine if there are shenanigans within the firm. A young government bond trader, Brian Sanders, under suspicion by the SEC, has died. An internal investigation revealed no improprieties. While the death was ruled accidental the firm’s management has heard whispers the SEC investigation could be expanded. Stafford is sought out because of his two years of successful skulduggery. A thief to catch a thief.

On his first day Sanders’ sales manager takes him for a lovely lunch at Le Bernardin for “pan-roasted monkfish in red-wine brandy sauce” with a nice Sancerre.

He is provided an office that he notes is smaller than his prison cell and sets to work reviewing trading records. He feels the office walls “squeezing” him.

Surprisingly for a thriller his 5 year old son, the “Kid”, is a significant character. He is autistic with huge issues that have exhausted his mother and grandmother. He is intelligent but has explosive reactions including biting and screaming fits, He jumps off stairs trying to fly. Every day of the week requires different coloured clothes. Wednesdays he wears only beige. Eggs must always be scrambled. He is passionate about cars. Stafford seeks out doctors and therapists and a caregiver for $48 an hour. While he had set up a trust fund for the Kid before jail it will run out of funds before the Kid runs out of the need for professional help. Stafford needs a large income.

Stafford knows the weaknesses of trading systems but was not a bond trader. He intends to apply that knowledge once he gains some understanding of the nuances of bond trading. 

Traders are not investors. They are money movers constantly shifting large sums of money looking to achieve a small percentage profit per transaction. There is significant risk but abundant potential reward. I was hooked. 

Stafford encounters the classic frustration of the investigator with witnesses, especially those trying to be helpful. They pass on what they consider important. With every litigation client I say tell me the details. Let me decide what is important. Still I get surprises.

Documents are at the heart of the case. Careful analysis is needed of huge numbers of transactions.

Stafford meets Wanda the Wandaful, a beautiful doctoral student, who earns money as  the assistant of a clown / magician. She is insightful and an excellent listener. Stafford is entranced.

However, Stafford lacks integrity. After two years in jail he still only does what is right when he thinks doing wrong will be caught. Temptation will always abound on Wall Street.

Sears credibly works the Kid into the investigation in a way I had not seen coming.

Without Sears providing explanations for trading processes I could not have understood how money can  constantly flow around Wall Street. The amounts are staggering.

Black Fridays is what a thriller should be. Stafford, Wanda and the Kid are real people. Stafford and Wanda have intelligent conversations. The Kid has some progression in school and relationships. The securities people are equally real. They have families. They struggle with the insane pressure of constantly trading. There is violence but realistic violence far below the level of the average American thriller. Sears ratchets up the tension through the book. I was deeply impressed.

Black Fridays, published in 2012, had been lurking for years in a TBR box when I pulled it out a couple of weeks ago. I wish I had found it sooner. Black Fridays was the first in a series featuring Jason Stafford. I am going to have to find more of the series.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Being Seen in Court

Perveen Mistry, in The Mistress of Bhatia House by Sujata Massey, must deal with the issue of being recognized by the Court to speak for a client. It is 1922 and she is the first woman practising law in Bombay.

A servant, Sunanda, from another household has been charged with taking an “oral abortifacient” to cause her to abort. She has been arrested and is brought before the Honorable James Peale O’Brien, Magistrate of the Bombay Police Bail Court.

As inevitable, there are numerous accused being brought to the Court to determine whether they will be released or held in jail pending trial. It is little different today, even in Provincial Court in a community of Melfort’s size. The judge must make decisions quickly to get through the docket. Whether in Melfort or another court point there will be just as many matters to be addressed the next day.

Within the Bombay courtroom are numerous solicitors appearing to advocate for release of their clients.

There are lots of family and friends present to provide support by providing references for the accused, being ready to provide a home if the accused is released and occasionally putting up money for bail.

The proceedings can be chaotic, especially with self-represented accused unfamiliar with court processes. It can be overwhelming for someone such as Sunanda who has never been a court.

To be able to speak for someone in English based court systems you must normally be a lawyer admitted to the bar. In Canada all lawyers are solicitors and barristers. In England there has been a distinction in which solicitors focus on preparing cases and have limited rights of advocacy. Barristers present cases in court.

In the Bombay Bail Court of 1922 a solicitor can speak for an accused but must be recognized as a lawyer.

Perveen has “completed the bachelor of civil law education at Oxford University” and “clerked at Freshfields” but does not have a law degree as female “students were not permitted to sit the examinations”. She is neither a member of the London Bar nor the Bombay Bar for she “cannot apply because both bar associations deny membership to female lawyers”.

Judge O’Brien officiously rules that Perveen “may serve clients as a solicitor but she has no authority to be an advocate.” He banishes her from the courtroom.

Instead of the dramatic words of banishment some judges might have used a phrase that is equally colourful. The judge might have said I cannot see you to Perveen. He would not see her because she is not an admitted solicitor. The phrase is rarely used today. In my 48 years of legal practice I have never seen someone not seen by a judge.

While lawyers understand what is meant by “I cannot see you” it is confusing for non-lawyers as they see the person standing before the bench.

Perveen is justly upset over the discrimination against women being admitted to the bar. In real life, Mithan Tata Lam was the first woman admitted to the Bombay bar in 1923. Mithan, like Perveen, was a Parsi who obtained her legal education in England. In Massey’s next book we shall see whether Perveen gains admission to the bar.

It takes a woman of great determination to keep challenging the establishment. Perveen will not turn away. She will continue to push her way to full recognition as a lawyer.


Monday, August 28, 2023

The Mistress of Bhatia House by Sujata Massey

(28. - 1167.) - The Mistress of Bhatia House by Sujata Massey - In 1922 Perveen Mistry’s sister-in-law, Gulnaz, has just given birth to a daughter, Klushy. Gulnaz is disappointed it was not a boy. Having abrupt mood swings, she is curt and nasty towards Perveen.

On behalf of Gulnaz, Perveen attends a fundraiser for a women’s hospital to be built in Bombay. Sir Ddwarkanath Bhatia is the lead sponsor. He is a wealthy man through his stone business for building construction. His wife, Premlata, died several years earlier. Uma Bhatia, the wife of his older son, Parvesh, hosts the gathering. Being Parvesh’s spouse, Uma is the senior daughter-in-law in the house.

Women from the elite of several backgrounds are present and making contributions. Adding to the mix of Indian ethnic groups that have appeared in the series is Dr. Miriam Penkar who is a member of the Bene Israel Jews.

A servant, Sunanda Chavda, rushes to save Ishar, the son of Uma and Parvesh. He  has caught on fire. She is significantly burned.

Sir Ddwarkanath removes his support for the hospital considering the project too much work for Uma and that her attention should be focused on her children.

Subsequently, Sunanda, is charged with taking an “oral abortifacient” to cause her to abort. She stoutly asserts she was not pregnant. The allegation comes from Mr. Arvind Vikas Tomar, a “Hindu gentleman”, who claims to have overheard conversations between Sunanda and another servant, Oshadi.

In a remarkable scene in Court, Perveen is denied the opportunity to speak to bail for Sunanda. My next post will discuss the event.

Plausibly, but dangerously for objectivity, Perveen invites the desperate Sunanda to stay with her family.

The story delves into difficult issues related to women, especially very young women, whose health suffers by having too many children. There are teas that could help with menstrual problems and teas that could produce miscarriages.

Perveen searches for evidence to support Sunanda. She is turned away by Uma.

Who will represent Sunanda at trial? Perveen cannot appear. A prominent barrister, Vivek Sharma, normally eager for referrals from Mistry law asserts he is too busy. Her father, Jamshedji, wants to concentrate on his own cases.

Since lawyers started representing clients in court the justice you get is often dependent on the justice you can afford. Sunanda would be virtually defenceless if Perveen was not her advocate. While Perveen would prefer someone pay for Sunanda’s defence she is prepared to provide the services of Mistry Law pro bono.

Perveen diligently searches law journals for cases on charges of abortion. She seeks cases where the alleged abortifacient was tea.

Miss Cora Arbison, actually the youngest wife at 19 of Mansour, the Nawab of Varanpur, wants to retain Perveen to represent her. When not seeking anonymity she is addressed as Begum (a word denoting a Muslim woman of high social status).

Sleep is a struggle at the Mistry home. Klushy is unsettled. She cries much of the night. Whether to intervene (Indian custom) or let her cry (English custom) causes friction.

For the first time I read the word “lawyeress” to describe Perveen.

Tomar is a mysterious complainant as no one knows him at the Bhatia residence.

Perveen’s relationship with Colin Sandringham has become physical though it remains secret. How long can they conceal their passion?

Every day Perveen must carefully balance her duties to clients, her obligations within the family, her social roles and her commitment to improve the lives of Indian women. Her status as a solicitor remains constrained by restrictions on women practising law and society’s reluctance to accept women lawyers.

Within her office Perveen experiences frequent frustration with male clients who either insist on seeing her father instead of her or want her father to provide a second opinion on her advice.

It is a good book. Massey is an excellent storyteller. The plot is set firmly within India of 1922. I wish more of the plot had revolved around legal matters. 

Perveen has come to remind me of Maisie Dobbs. Each woman is successful in the male dominated world of the 1920’s. Each is a spirited woman of integrity. 


Massey, Sujata - (2019) - The Widows of Malabar Hill and A First Woman Lawyer to be Admired; (2019) - The Satapur Moonstone and Parsi Gara Saris in the Mistry Mysteries; (2022) - The Bombay Prince

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Vile Spirits by John MacLachlan Gray

(11. - 1150.) Vile Spirits by John MacLachlan Gray - In 1925, British Columbia Attorney General, Gordon Cunning, is comfortably ensconced in a wingback chair in the Crystal Ballroom of the Hotel Vancouver. Attentive servers deliver Martinis. While not feeling well, he is not going to miss the reception for “The” Prince George. He fades away. Awkwardly for the evening staff, they assume he is sleeping, morning cleaning staff find he is dead.

Detective Sergeant Calvin Hook attends with Constable Quam. Hook continues to conduct himself as if he were still a training officer in World War I. Somewhat imperious, edging on pompous, he cannot decide if Quam suffers from “mental impairment” or “mental inertia” or both conditions.

DS Hook investigates while constantly smoking Ogden cirgarettes. 

Reporter Ed McCurdy is swiftly on the scene adroitly gathering information about the deceased politician. Cunning was considered a strong prospect for becoming leader of the provincial Liberal Party and becoming Premier.

Hearty breakfasts of “coffee, bacon, sausages, eggs, black pudding, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and buttered toast” sustain McCurdy.

The dominant political issue in B.C. is alcohol. Prohibition has been ended by a plebiscite and the provincial government controls the lawful sale of alcohol. Hotels have been allowed to have beer parlours with separate sections for Women with Escorts and Men Only. Opportunities for graft are abundant. When I was growing up in our small prairie community the local hotel had a beer parlour until the end of the 1960’s.

Cunning was a moderationist. He was reviled by Wets and Drys. 

English customs, pretensions and class structure dominate Vancouver and Victoria. Woe to the man or woman who follows not the English way.

The Ku Klux Klan is expanding in the province. It preaches racial purity and temperance.    

Many Drys, virulently opposed to drinking alcohol, imbibe regularly, often daily, medicines with a significant alcohol content. Great health claims are made on behalf of these potent elixirs.

The investigation takes a startling turn with another death of a prominent man. 

There is an interesting use of newspaper stories by McCurdy and other journalists to end chapters. Transcripts of phone calls including the use of operators to make the connections are another uncommon feature in the book.

As inevitable, the vast amounts of money involved with a government wanting a monopoly on the sale of alcohol lead to large scale corruption.

Sergeant Hook is an honest man which makes investigations related to alcohol difficult.

It is a good book but a little heavy on history.                                   

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Sunset and Jericho by Sam Wiebe

(26. - 1165.) Sunset and Jericho by Sam Wiebe - In his 4th book, Dave Wakeland eases into a pair of cases. He brushes aside an invitation from Vancouver Mayor, Valerie Fell, to search for her missing brother, Jeremy Fell, for lack of useful information and the Mayor being too busy to meet with him. He takes up a request from Rhonda Bryce, a city transit cop and former office with Vancouver Police Services, to search for her stolen service handgun. It was taken when she was ambushed by a man and a woman at a public transit station and prison napalm (sugar water heated to a high temperature) thrown in her face.

Only in Canada would it be credible that a carefully orchestrated attack be made on a security officer to get a handgun. In America the attack would be disregarded as fantasy. An American needs only to stroll down to the neighbourhood gun shop to get a handgun.

The opening sharply contrasts with the previous book, Hell and Gone, where Wakeland observes an early morning bloodbath outside his office window. Masked gunmen kill commuters on the street and four men in a money counting room across the street. The dramatic opening worked well but it is more realistic that Wakeland gets cases in a less thriller atmosphere in Sunset and Jericho.

It is not long into the book when he comes across the body of Fell and another body being a man connected to the gun, Kyle Halliday. He also receives a warning in silver paint on his private office door to stay out of the way of the couple from the transit station.

Wakeland might, though it seems unlikely to me, have walked away from investigating the deaths but he does not react well to being threatened:

You can’t prevent being threatened, and you can’t win them all. But you can hold them to account.

There’s no forgetting with matters of violence.

The intruders were professional, leaving no evidence and destroying surveillance.

As Wakeland investigates he sets out his essential principle of detecting:

Hunches and conversation. It’s what detective work comes down to, time and again. Someone knows something. So you ask.

It is the same philosophy I use when building a court case.

The Mayor reaches out to him again to investigate her brother’s death and suddenly he has a client whose very name opens access and information.

It appears Halliday was a member of an extremist group, Death of Kings. The phrase comes from Shakespeare’s Richard II. A radical organization drawing its name from Shakespeare puzzled Wakeland and myself though both of us profess a literary turn of mind. There was a logical significance in the name I did not detect.

Zealots are frightening in their self-righteous uncaring.

Just as Jed “Hammerhead” Ounstead (A.J. Devlin’s sleuth) had a brutal reckoning in Five Moves of Doom, Wakeland must deal with the consequences of failing to heed the warning on his door.

Wakeland is driven by his personal code that he is not “the stopping type”. His obsessive persistence in investigations dooms relationships.

Wiebe has a great description for why a lone sleuth like Wakeland, even though he is part of a business, cannot function in a group:

“A guy like you goes full steam after something till he gets it. That’s not how a group works. A group’s got competing interests, political shit, compromises, favours. A group needs to learn how to be itself.”

Still someone is always willing to talk. Wakeland is proficient at finding the he/she/they ready to talk.

I regretted that Wakeland’s humour is pretty much beaten out of him.

Wakeland is a philosopher sleuth. Many exist in crime fiction. I think of Travis McGee as one of the most prominent, taking his retirement in chunks as he earns money as a salvage consultant. It is Wakeland’s ability to think that gives him the insight to break the case.

The resolution is clever - both credible and surprising. It is an uncommon combination.

I was disappointed that Sonia Drego broke up with Wakeland and moved to Quebec. I had hoped they might have a child. I now understand why Wiebe carefully answered my question about such a possibility in an email exchange on Hell and Gone

Wakeland gave up smoking for Sonia. He is now struggling with the unending desire for a cigarette.

Though Wakeland finds some comfort in a Syrian immigrant nurse, Naima Halliday, darkness has crept deeply into his life. The toll from violence and injury and regret and tattered relationships weighs heavy on Wakeland. I hope there is some lightness in his future.


Wiebe, Sam - (2015) - Last of the Independents and The Unhanged Arthur Award; (2016) - Invisible Dead and Sam Wiebe on His Sleuths; (2018) - Cut You Down and Sam Wiebe on Dave Wakeland; (2021) - Hell and Gone and A Vulnerable Tough Guy