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, June 26, 2012

The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe

30. – 662.) The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe – The second Hazel Micallef mystery opens with Hazel flat on her back in bed in the home of her ex-husband, Andrew, and his new wife, Glynnis. Any reader thinking it reflects some kinky relationship will be disappointed. She is recovering from back surgery and her home was unsuitable for recuperation. Her mother, the feisty Emily, has moved with her to provide not so tender nursing care.

Hazel is a poor patient. She dearly wants out of Andrew’s home. She is bored of looking at the walls. She is starting to like too much the little white Percocet pills. Time is passing too slowly in a house filled with clocks.

Officer James Wingate drops by occasionally to update her on the Port Dundas OPS detachment and seek some guidance on files. Hazel remains in charge of the detachment while on sick leave.

It is the start of summer in cottage country and the local paper, The Westmuir Record, is running its traditional work of summer fiction in several installments. It is a creepy story of a pair of fishermen hooking a body in the lake.

Her return to the office is accelerated when a pair of tourists hook and then lose a body in a local lake. When the police return they find the body but it is a headless mannequin. It has been weighted down to lie on the bottom of the lake.

Hazel and other officers are puzzled by anyone going to that much effort with a mannequin. It is equally a mystery why the story in the paper and the incident mirror each other.

As Wingate looks into the mannequin he finds it has been subtly altered. When the police figure out what has happened they are led into a bizarre spooky scheme.

As they solve one puzzle another one is set before them. Hazel is very frustrated as the police are manipulated. I was reminded of Lincoln Rhyme mysteries of Jeffery Deaver where Lincoln is often trying to unravel mysteries of manipulation.

During the investigation Hazel must travel the two hours to Toronto to get information. Toronto City Police are barely civil to the visitors from the country.

At home Hazel is not looking forward to her 62nd birthday. Between growing older, getting divorced, having major health problems and a troubled grown up daughter she has many personal issues. Mainly she is lonely. The book does have a birthday present for Hazel I will long remember.

Hazel does not direct the investigation but is fully involved. At one point there is a fight. It has been a long while in the crime fiction world since I can remember reading about a woman in her 60’s mixing it up physically.

Wolfe has some finely written passages. Wingate responds to Hazel’s question on how he, her temporary replacement, is being treated:

            “They resent me with a smile.”

I thought the book was long in the middle. As the conclusion nears the pace becomes far more compelling.

Hazel remains an intriguing and inviting character. I acknowledge a bias towards liking a sleuth within a couple of years of my own age.

I appreciated that the book is far different from The Calling where she dealt with one of the most unusual serial killers in crime fiction.

The 3rd book in the series, A Door in the River, is due to be published this summer. I will be interested to see if Hazel remains a member of the OPS. She is of an age that police forces do not favour for serving officers. In The Taken she is referred to as a dinosaur.

Next week I will be writing about the effect upon me of reading a book by Wolfe who has remained a pseudonym while knowing the identity of Alix Bosco, a former pseudonym while reading Slaughter Falls. (June 16/12)


  1. Bill - Thanks for this fine review. I really will be interested in what you have to say about the fact that this author chooses to keep a pseudonym and remain unknown otherwise. It's an interesting question...

    I respect an author who does innovative things with plots and tries different approaches and it seems that's what Wolfe has done here. I'll be interested to see what comes next for Hazel, too.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It was a good surprise when I realized the book was not another serial killer mystery.

  3. Nice review, Bill. I read the first in the series but though I really liked the idea of the character of Hazel (her age, status, gender etc) she did not quite work for me. The "in peril" sections at the end were too obvious (I was just waiting for it...) and something about the police team's dynamics just did not seem convincingly conveyed. But the main reason I hated the book and probably will not read more by the author were the awful "in the fridge" ritualistic, gory, unnecessarily dwelling lovingly on, nasty murders.....just see no point to that and I hate reading it.

  4. Thanks for taking part in the 5th annual Canadian Book Challenge! I don't read a lot of crime fiction, so I've been actively following your reviews looking for recommendations!

  5. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. The second book is not as graphic. There are still some vivid descriptions of harm.

  6. John: Thanks for the kind words. I admire your work in continuing the annual Canadian Book Challenge.