About Me

My photo
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, January 20, 2012

Thoughts on Questions and Answers with David Rotenberg

            Making the hero a Canadian rather than an American when part of the story is set in the United States is so uncommon I do not think I have read another mystery with a comparable hero. Had he not already had a successful series I expect David would have been pushed hard to make Decker an American.
            Decker displays a trait common to Canadians. He is knowledgeable about America. Canadians normally do not find the converse true. To take a simple example where almost all Canadians can identify the American President, there is a much smaller percentage of Americans able to name Canada’s Prime Minister.
            I agree with David’s statement that Canadians are outsiders to the United States. I go further to state that we could hardly be a sovereign land if we were not outsiders to America.
            On Decker being a thriller hero substituting brain power for brawn and weapons I admire David’s decision. In his latest book, Junkyard Dogs, Craig Johnson has his hero, Sheriff Walt Longmire, actually physically challenged by the accumulation of his injuries. It was uncommon enough fictional recognition of the consequences of repeated injuries for me to take note.
It is hard for me to recall another thriller hero who “understands the diminishing returns of violence”. It is tiring to read of fictional heroes being battered about and then swiftly rising again to smite the bad guy. At times I think there is evolving a new rule for thrillers that it cannot be a thriller without a massive body count.
            At the core of what makes the book interesting is the presence of the synasthetes. It is intriguing to read of individuals with exceptional, almost unworldly talents. Daniel Tammet is an amazing individual with special gifts in mathematics and languages. Seeing numbers in colours, shapes and sizes is beyond my comprehension. Learning conversational Icelandic in a week is even more amazing. His website is optimnen.com.uk.
The reference to the inspiration for the movie, Rainman, was to Ken Peek. His photographic memory allowed him to recall the contents of at least 12,000 books! Since he started memorizing just before he was 2 years old he was averaging 217 books a year for the remaining 56 years of his life. How many bloggers can even remember all the books they read a year ago? Decker is more socially adept than most synasthetes.
For non-Canadian readers CSIS is the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. Certainly they could use a truth teller as much as America’s NSA.
On David’s simple answer that his hero has a family because he is a father and he has a son is logical. I am sure most thriller writers are parents yet their heroes infrequently have families.
As evident by recent posts I have long been interested in the issue of sleuths and families especially the increase in characters with families. David puts the reasoning in favour of families at its most direct. Everyone has a family.
            I enjoy sagas. Stieg Larsson’s trilogy was great partly because of the ongoing story lines through the three books. While not expressed to be a set Louise Penny’s most recent books in the Inspector Gamache series are close to being a saga with the ongoing plots.


  1. Bill - Thanks for this thoughtful post on your interview and the responses. You make some very, very well-taken points about thrillers, particularly the tendency in many of them to have a high "body count." I respect David Rotenberg for being innovative in several ways with his writing.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I think I will keep track of the number of bodies in the next few thrillers I read to see how the body count is reaching.

  3. One of the reasons I read certain thrillers, Bill, is precisely because I know the hero is not to be trifled with. i.e. Lee Child's Jack Reacher books. Reacher is always ready to do what is necessary which usually results in a dead body or two or three. But I don't mind that he is practically indestructable. It's part of his charm. :)

    It's not a realistic series, after all.

    But I also like books in which the hero uses brains over brawn.

    I think there's room for both.

    This book you're talking about sounds like a good one. I like when the hero has specieal talents.
    Especially brainy talents.

  4. Yvette: Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I need to remind myself periodically of a hero's character as intended by the author and not expect more than was planned.