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, November 29, 2011

Mr. Clarinet by Nick Stone

Mr. Clarinet by Nick Stone – The book has been sitting on the TBR pile for a lengthy period of time. It is a challenging mystery.
            Max Mingus, private detective and former Miami Police Department officer, is being released after 7 years in jail for killing a trio of thugs who had brutalized and killed a young woman. He is also struggling to deal with the unexpected death of his wife, Sandra, while he was still in prison.
            The wealthy Carver family wants him to come to Haiti to search for Charlie Carver who was three years old when kidnapped two years earlier. Initially, Max repeatedly declines but after his release goes to Haiti to take on the case. He is not yet ready to be alone.
            It is late 1996 shortly after the U.S. and U.N. have intervened and have troops stationed in the country. Stone describes a Haiti of incredible desolation. The countryside has been devastated by deforestation. In Port-au-Prince the infrastructure of the city has collapsed. Much of the city is a slum. Amidst the utter poverty the Carver family lives comfortably insulated from the people.
            Mingus understands it is a risky investigation. Of the two previous American private detectives who had attempted to find Charlie one had been viciously killed and the other wished he was dead.
            Max begins his investigation with the aid of the beautiful Chantel, a trusted employee of the Carvers. Almost immediately he encounters the voodoo culture prevalent in the country. Most people believe in the power of practitioners of black magic. There are rumours of a mythic figure Tonton Clarinette who lures young children. It was shocking to read children may be sacrificed for certain rituals.
            The Carver family has dark secrets. Mingus is in an uneasy relationship with the family as he seeks the missing child. Independence in an employee is a foreign concept to the rich.
            Mingus is part detective, part vigilante, part avenger. He operates well in a country where the Rule of Law is a distant academic concept. At the same time I struggle to accept a hero who so readily, even casually, accepts violent action and cruel death.
            I am not sure whether I will read the next book in the series. Haiti is, without doubt, the most depressing country I have read about in mystery fiction. Yet the primary reason for my hesitation was the extreme graphic violence in certain scenes which caused me to put the book down for a few days. At the same time Stone is a gifted writer who creates interesting characters and a vivid plot. It is not a book for the sensitive book lover. (Nov. 22/11)


  1. Bill - Thanks for a thoughtful and detailed review - nicely done! I have to confess, though, that I will probably wait before trying this. I'm not overly squeamish, but graphic violence is something I need to take in measured doses. Still, that said, Mingus sounds like a really interesting character. I may give it a try at some point...

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I like your phrase "measured doses". As I grow older I find I like the doses further apart.