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, June 19, 2011

"W" is for Who is Inger Ash Wolfe?

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise has reached “W”. I have chosen a post to challenge fellow bloggers and readers. Who is Inger Ash Wolfe?

Wolfe has written two mysteries set in rural Ontario. Each features 61 year old detective inspector, Hazel Micallef, in the fictional town of Port Dundas. The Calling and The Return have been critical and popular successes. I have read The Calling and thoroughly enjoyed the book. On Tuesday I will publish my review.

The mystery within the mystery is the identity of Inger Ash Wolfe. The publisher, McClelland & Stewart, describes the author:

“Inger Ash Wolfe is the pseudonym of a well-known and well-regarded North American literary writer.”

When The Calling was published in 2008 there was a flurry of attention on the origins of the name and the actual identity of Wolfe.

The book was about to be published with the author’s name as Inger Wolfe. There arose a minor controversy because of the real life Danish author, Inger Wolf. At the last moment Ash was inserted into the name to make it more distinct. A questionable defence for the process of the Canadian name was offered that it was not realized that Inger Wolf had written mystery fiction when the name was checked.

The major issue has been Wolfe’s real identity. There was considerable speculation early on involving well known Canadian authors.

Jane Urquart was proposed until Wolfe’s agent, Ellen Levine, denied it was Urquart.

When it was asserted to be Linda Spalding she said that she wished she had written the book.

Michael Redhill coyly said that he had hired a lawyer and was told not to talk about the issue.

Other reports have claimed it is Margaret Atwood. I have not come across any statements from her or on her behalf with regard to the speculation.

Nicola Manning, a Canadian blogger, said Wolfe is Canadian author, Russell Smith, in her review of The Calling which can be found at http://back-to-books.blogspot.com/2009/11/207-calling-by-inger-ash-wolfe.html. Her source of information was audiofilemagazine in its review at http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/dbsearch/showreview.cfm?Num=35504. I have not found anyone who knows audofile’s source. It appears Amazon briefly picked up on the audiofile story.

I have not been able to find any source in which Smith confirms or denies he is Wolfe. His website at http://www.russellsmith.ca/ does not contain any information on the issue.

He has previously used a pseudonym. Amongst his works of fiction is Diana – A Diary in the Second Person which he wrote under the pseudonym, Diana Savage. Depending on the reviewer the book is either erotica or pornography. I do not know if Smith writing a book imagining a woman in sexual passion leads to him imagining a strong willed 61 woman police inspector but it is intriguing.

January magazine did an interview with the author which can be found at http://januarymagazine.com/profiles/wolfe.html. There is also a Facebook interview at http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=141697892508677&topic=164. In each Wolfe explains the choice of a pseudonym.

I would be very interested if anyone out there has cracked the mystery of who is Inger Ash Wolfe?


  1. Bill - I've wondered about that, too. You've summed up quite neatly who the "leading contenders" are, and to be honest, I haven't heard anything to really positively identify Inger Ash Wolfe. It's a fascinating question. So is the real identity of New Zealand crime writer Alix Bosco, whose Cut and Run won New Zealand's inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for best New Zealand crime fiction. Alix Bosco is a pseudonym that nobody's "cracked" to my knowledge.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the excellent comment. I had not heard of Alix Bosco. I looked her up on the web. Craig's description of her reasons for anonymity are eerily similiar to Wolfe. He said " 'successful writer in other media' who wishes to keep her crime writing and other life separate".

  3. I have no clue, Bill. But it is certainly an intriguing mystery. Very smart of the writer, I'm thinking. Buzz about a writer or her book can't hurt. I'm always curious as to why a writer chooses a pseudonym. There's usually some good excuse, but...

  4. Yvette: Thanks for the comment. I keep thinking the author is setting up a great publicity opportunity to sometime reveal their actual identity.

  5. The writer is Michael Redhill. This has been confirmed by the publisher.

  6. Anonymous: Thank you for the information. I am going to look at the publishers website. Was there a press release that is online?