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.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Favourite posts from Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass

Over the 12 weeks of the trip around Europe I posted reviews of mysteries set in each of the countries. In this post I am discussing three posts I put up and a pair of posts from other participants that caught my attention.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter HΓΈeg is set in Denmark and Greenland. It is the only mystery I have read that features Greenlanders and the huge icy island of Greenland. The book explores the uncomfortable issues of Greenlanders brought to Denmark to attend school. There are many challenges for the Greenlanders trying to adjust and fit into a new culture. What makes the book outstanding is Smilla, a vivid unusual character, long to be remembered. (I also thought of my visit to Copenhagen in the spring taking a lovely boat tour around the harbor area and enjoying supper on the dock after the tour.)

The Premier by Georges Simenon was my contribution for the stop in France. Most of my reading of Simenon has involved the series he wrote featuring detective Maigret. The Premier features the 82 year old former Premier of France. The book is unusual in the main character being in his 80’s. It is a rare mystery which gives precedence to an elderly character. I think more interesting mysteries could be written involving the 80+. Much of the book explores the thoughts and assessments of the Premier. It is a superb exploration of a mind.

My favourite book of the journey was TheMiracle Game by Joseph Skvorecky set in what was Czechoslovakia during the Communist years of the 1940’s through the Prague Spring of 1968. The book explored the bizarre results of taking all actions and making all decisions based on rigid Marxist – Leninist dogma. Freedom of thought was a dangerous concept as it did not fit with the required thoughts of communist doctrines. The lead character, Daniel Smiricky, publicly goes along, as much as needed, with communist thought while privately rejecting them.

In reading the book I was struck by how attitudes have changed. Smiricky is a young teacher in the late 1940’s teaching at a high school of all girls. He is pursued by the girls. There is no condemnation of a relationship between a teenage girl and her teacher. It would find disfavor with Communist authorities of the time but not the societal disapproval of today against such relations.

I enjoyed a pair of posts from other contributors concerning Turkey, the final destination.

Host Kerrie Smith on her blog, Mysteries in Paradise, offered a lovely post on the hotel in Instanbul, the Pera Palace Hotel, where Agatha Christie is believed to have written Murder on the Orient Express. You can stay in the actual “Agatha Christie” room at the hotel.

John on his blog, Pretty Sinister Books, reviewed Mehmet Murat Somer, a Turkish writer, whose sleuth is a Turkish transvestite (handsome computer consultant by day and glamorous nightclub owner by night wearing Audrey Hepburn lookalike outfits). John said the series explores aspects of gay life within an Islamic culture.

I am very glad I was on Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass.


  1. Bill - I'm very glad you participated in this meme, too. And it's interesting that you bring up The Miracle Game as your favourite of the ones you highlighted for the meme. I was quite drawn in by your review of it and I can see very clearly why you liked it as much as you did.

  2. Margot: It is one of the pleasures of reading to find an excellent book that was not highly recommended or well known by participating in a meme.

  3. Thanks for highlighting your favourite posts/books in the challenge, Bill.

  4. Jose Ignacio: Thanks for the comment. I still appreciate your early post outlining possible authors and books for the journey.