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, October 23, 2011

Snow Job by William Deverell

55. – 615.) Snow Job by William Deverell – I have never read a mystery / thriller / satire where war is declared on Canada. Deverell manages to find a reason for our peaceable nation being at war with the fictional Central Asian country of Bhashyistan. The father of Igor Muckhali Ivanovich, National Prophet and Ultimate Leader for Life, was assassinated in Canada 15 years earlier. When several members of the Bhashyistan Cabinet are killed by an IED on a visit to Ottawa Mad Igor is enraged. Shortly thereafter, several representatives of a Calgary oil company in Bhashyistan are caught on tape discussing a bribe for the rights to a major oil project and making disparaging remarks about Igor’s Revered Mother. Igor imprisons the Canadians and declares war.

Distinguished B.C. lawyer, Arthur Beauchamp, who has escaped the turbulent world of a Vancouver litigator for the rural pleasures of Garibaldi Island, finds himself in the middle of the turmoil because of marriage. He has joined his former antagonist and now wife, Margaret Blake, in Ottawa where she is the leader of the Green Party and an MP for Cowichan and the Islands. (Deverell is prescient in that the current real life leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, was elected to Parliament three years after the book was written as the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands which is the same area as Margaret’s fictional riding.)

Arthur is a reluctant resident of Ottawa and consort of a well known politician. He longs to return to his acreage on Garibaldi.

The governing Conservative Party is in turmoil over how to deal with  a war with a landlocked dictatorship many thousands of kilometers away.

The day before the IED explosion Abzal Erzhan who had been found not guilty of killing the Ultimate’s father disappears from his quiet life in Montreal. Arthur is gradually drawn into the storm because of his firm’s connections with Abzal. A member of Arthur’s firm, Brian Pomeroy, had gained the acquittal at trial for Abza. With Pomeroy having disappeared into the Arctic it is up to Arthur to advise Abzal’s family back in Montreal.

Complications abound when CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) is tasked by the Government to investigate what has happened to Azbal and the connections with Arthur and Margaret.

Adding to the mix is a Saskatchewan connection which I appreciated. A trio of rural Saskatchewan women, on tour in Central Asia, get stranded in Bhashyistan after the declaration of war and must go into hiding with opponents of the Mad Igor’s regime.

Deverell has a fine time with the follies of the political processes and politicians of Canada. That satire strongly reminded me of the duet of books by Terry Fallis – The Best Laid Plans and The High Road - on the machinations of Federal politics. It is a rare legal mystery that is nominated for Canada’s Stephen Leacock Humour Award.

With wit and insight Deverell keeps the plot moving forward.

Arthur barely gets into a courtroom in the novel but he is a skillful counselor fulfilling another traditional legal role. The problems on which he provides counsel are as challenging as any criminal defence he has undertaken.

It is an entertaining book. Once again it is not a conventional legal mystery with the absence of a trial but I will list it under Legal Mysteries because Arthur uses his legal skills throughout the book. I am looking forward to getting the next in the series I’ll See You in My Dreams which has been published this fall.

This book is the 5th book I have read in the 5th Annual Canadian Book Challenge hosted at the Book Mine Set blog. I have reached the Lake Claire level. My goal is to read 13 books to reach the highest level of the Challenge. (Oct. 10/11)


  1. Bill - What a fascinating-sounding book! The premise isn't one I would have thought of, but it sounds as though it pans out really effectively. And I enjoy a book with effective satire. What also appeals to me about this is that it also offers a perspective on a few parts of Canada. I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I read little satire. It was used effectively in this book.