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.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Update on Canadian Book Challenge

Back in the middle of 2011 I signed up for the Canadian Book Challenge. It is the only Reading Challenge in which I am participating this year. It is hosted by John Mutford at the Book Mine Set blog. John, a resident of Yellowknife in the North West Territories, runs the challenge each year from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. He chose the middle of the year for the start of the challenge as July 1 is Canada Day. The challenge asks readers to read 13 books authored by Canadians over the 12 months.

The Challenge has gone pretty smoothly for me. I have read 9 books since July 1 and have 3 more ready to be read by the end of April.

The books I have read in the 5th Canadian Book Challenge are:

1.) An Ordinary Decent Criminal by Michael Van Rooy – It is the most unusual of the 9 as it features a criminal seeking to go straight after moving into a Winnipeg, Manitoba following release from prison. The transition does not go smoothly mainly because of the local residents;

2.) Deadly Appearances by Gail Bowen – My second book in the challenge was the first in Gail’s series featuring University of Regina English professor, Joanne Kilbourn. It is unique in featuring as victim, the province’s Premier, who is obviously patterned after an actual Premier;

3.) A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny – The Armand Gamache series has reached international status and I expect will become the best known mystery series from Canada this decade surpassing the mysteries of Kathy Reichs. In this book Louise returns to Three Pines in Quebec with a vivid exploration of the world of painters;

4.) The Mystery of the Moonlight Murder by Roderick Benns – I rarely read Young Adult fiction but could not resist a mystery featuring the only Saskatchewan born Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, solving a mystery while a young boy living on the family homestead near Borden;

5.) Snow Job by William Deverell – Arthur Beauchamp is struggling, essentially with boredom, while living in our nation’s capital, Ottawa, with his politician wife. He gets involved in the bizarre assassination of Central Asian politicians visiting Canada. I know of no other Canadian mystery writer whose book was also nominated for a national humour prize;

6.) Burnt Out by Nelson Brunanski – The small town Saskatchewan series holds a special place in my heart as it is set in a town 80 km away from Melfort. With each book I enjoy Nelson’s deft portrayal of life in rural Saskatchewan;

7.) The Placebo Effect by David Rotenberg – It is an unusual thriller in that it moves between the United States and Canada featuring a character who is an synaesthete with the talent of being able to tell if someone is telling the truth. It struck me as a somewhat frightening skill to possess. We all are probably better off not always knowing if we are being told the truth;

8.) The Lies have It by Jill Edmondson – Jill continues to improve in each mystery of the Sasha Jackson series. There are not a lot of hard boiled sleuths in Canadian crime fiction. Sasha is even more special as a female hard boiled detective. Her wit rivals the humour in the Arthur Beauchamp novels; and,

9.) I’ll See You in My Dreams by William Deverell – It takes an author of great skill to blend stories taking place 50 years apart involving the same characters. It is an impressive book with Beauchamp remembering his first murder trial in 1962. It makes me feel alittle old as I well remember 1962.

I have 3 mysteries I am looking forward to reading in the next two months.

The first will be Stray Bullets by Robert Rotenberg. It is his third legal mystery and will be published at the beginning of May. I have greatly enjoyed the first two in the series.

The next two are books by my favourite Saskatchewan authors, Gail Bowen and Anthony Bidulka. Each has a new mystery being published in April.

I have not decided what book will be my 13th book for the Challenge.


  1. That's an impressive list, Bill. And thank you for introducing me to Arthur Beauchamp.

    Have you heard of/read the book Midnight Cab by James Nicholl? I was recommended it, and enjoyed it - it is a bit different. It was a well-known Canadian radio series, also.

    Good luck with the rest of the challenge. (And by the way, I can just about remember 1962 as well, as I have the cue of 1962/63 being the worst winter in the UK for many, many years - and my sister was born in the middle of it.)

  2. Maxine: Thanks for the comment.

    I feel fortunate to have read such a group of excellent books for the challenge.

    I am not familiar with Nicholl. I am going to have to take a look around.

    I cannot say I have any special memories of '62. I was a boy enjoying life on the farm and reading all the books I could get from our small library.

  3. Have you tried some Vicki Delaney Bill?

  4. No, I have not Kerrie. Do you like her?

  5. This is an excellent list, one to mine for future reads.

    Have you read books by R.J. Harlick? I read The River Runs Orange and enjoyed the sense of place and descriptions of the river and surrounding terrain.

    Also, what about L.R. (Lorali Rose) Wright? Her books are set in Western British Columbia, featuring a slightly jaded police detective and his friends.

    Her first book in the series, Suspect, won the Edgar in the mid-1980s, beating our Ruth Rendell. It is excellent.

  6. kathy d.: Thanks for the comment.

    I have read Harlick's book, An Arctic Blue Death. I thought the book was well done. Set in the high Arctic the location is uniquely Canadian.

    I do not recall reading any of L.R. Wright's books. With your comment I am thinking I should read one of her books to complete the Challenge.

  7. I have read three of L.R. Wright's books and thought that Suspect was the best of the three.

  8. A question: Do you recommend the other books in the Gail Bowen series? I see that my library has some of them.

  9. kathy d.: I do recommend the other books. If you want reviews about almost all of them you can click on the right hand side of my blog on Saskatchewan Mysteries by Author and it will take you to the page where there are links to my reviews of Gail's books and some Q & A with her. I suggest you read them as much in order as possible. The mysteries stand alone but she has a progression in the lives of Joanne and her family that I love that I think is best experienced chronologically as much as possible. I hope you enjoy her books.

    While in Regina for work yesterday I have found a copy of Suspect at the Main Branch of the Library and have checked it out.

  10. I see on Margot Kinberg's blot that you did get a chance to read The Suspect and thought it was excellent.

    Glad to hear that. Sometimes our suggestions pan out for other readers, a good thing.

    If there is an understandable reason for murder, this book surely gives one.

  11. kathy d.: Thank you for the recommendation. I wish I had started the series years ago.

    I will have a post up at the end of the week reviewing the book and setting out my ambivalence concerning the killer.

  12. Good list, Bill. I think you will enjoy Vicki and RJ's books.

  13. Anthony: Thanks for the comment. I hope to come to Saskatoon for the book launch of Dos Equis later this month.