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.

Monday, July 16, 2012

6th Canadian Book Challenge and the Best of the 5th Challenge

The 5th Canadian Book Challenge ended on June 30, 2012 and the 6th Challenge began on Canada Day, July 1, 2012. As with each year’s challenge participants are to read 13 Canadian books over the course of the year. The number of 13 comes from our 10 provinces and 3 territories. John Mutford at his excellent blog, The Book MineSet, will again host the Challenge. Next to this paragraph is the logo for this coming year. You cannot get more Canadian iconic than a Mountie in red serge.

In the 5th Challenge I read 15 Canadian books. The total was more than I had read in some years of Canadian books. For the coming year I will set a goal of reading 16 Canadian books.

John provided some stats on the 5th Challenge:

Let's see what the stats say:
- We've read and reviewed a total of 1030 books! That is way up from the previous year, but still not a record (that was set back in the 2nd edition at 1137). The grand total for all 5 years combined is 4134.
- Of the people 58 who participated, 32 finished (reached 13 or more books). Again, not a record in terms of numbers but the 55% success rate is.
- Shonna broke a record by reading and reviewing an even 100. Impressive!

I have been considering the 15 books last year and chosen 3 of them as my top books. It was difficult as I found all of the books I read for the challenge above average.

The books read were:

1.) An Ordinary Decent Criminal by Michael Van Rooy;

2.) Deadly Appearances by Gail Bowen;

3.) A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny;

4.) The Mystery of the Moonlight Murder by Roderick Benns;

5.) Snow Job by William Deverell;

6.) Burnt Out by Nelson Brunanski;

7.) The Placebo Effect by David Rotenberg;

8.) The Lies have It by Jill Edmondson; and,

9.) I’ll See You in My Dreams by William Deverell.

10.) Bush Dweller (Essays in Memory of Father James Gray O.S.B. edited by Don Ward)

11.) The Suspect by L.R. Wright

12.) Stray Bullets by Robert Rotenberg

13.) Dos Equis by Anthony Bidulka

14.) Kaleidoscope by Gail Bowen

15.) The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe

My top 3 and the reasons are:

1.) Kaleidoscope – The 13th Joanne Kilbourn book was an intriguing contemporary mystery delving into real life issues in Regina. Better yet it saw Joanne retiring as a university professor and starting the adjustment to life as a retired person. I further acknowledge I am biased because her husband, Zack, is a 50 plus Saskatchewan litigation lawyer;

2.) Bush Dweller – Not many books profoundly move me. Bush Dweller had that effect. The impact a solitary Benedictine monk, Father James, at St. Peter’s Abbey had on so many people across a broad spectrum was amazing. I wish I had taken the time to know him better when he was alive. The book has led me to reflect on my life. When I sit on my deck this summer and listen to the birds I think of Father James; and,

3.) The Suspect – I had not read any books of L.R. Wright until The Suspect. I doubt I would have read her this year if not for the Challenge. It has been my loss that I had not sought her out in years past. Wright wrote one of the most penetrating examinations of the psyche of a murderer that I have read. I was driven during the reading of the book to question whether I wanted George Wilcox proven to be the killer.

Kerrie Smith from Mysteries in Paradise completed the Challenge as well as numerous other challenges. She is a great reader.

Please take a virtual trip to Canada and the many excellent mystery choices available from Canadian authors.


  1. Bill - You certainly read some excellent books for this challenge! I give you credit for embarking on the challenge again, and I'll be very interested in your reviews as you go along.

  2. Congratulations, Bill, and thank you for introducing me to Gail Bowen and L R Wright, from your top three.

  3. wow, that's a lot of books. I feel ashamed I haven't read more.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I believe the Challenge encourages me to read Canadian books.

  5. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. I am glad you enjoyed the books.

  6. Clarissa: Thanks for the comment. I do not think anyone should be ashamed. We read what can in our days.

  7. I read several books by Canadian authors in the last year, and I"ll add in one book about Ellesmere Island by a British author, if I'm adding up books set in Canada.

    After reading the latest books by Gail Bowen and William Deverell, I could spend the rest of the summer drinking iced tea in this horrendous heat and reading their books. What fun!

    And I am so glad that I discovered L.R. Wright and The Suspect and could pass on the recommendation to so many readers who liked it. And no, I didn't want George arrested. His motive and justification were compelling to me. If I were on that jury, I'd have voted for justifiable homicide.

    However, given this heat I'd like to return to Nordic noir and any books set in the COLD WEATHER in Canada. The Tenderness of Wolves would be fine, 1860s in the Canadian winter, but I read it.

    Any ideas on good mysteries with snow and ice in the background?

    I see a few books by R.J. Harlick at the library. Maybe that will do the trick, at least they are set in the wilderness.

  8. I have joined the Canadian Book Challenge 6 and am excited about finding books to read. I already have a few. I just started reading The Suspect. Will be checking your blog for more suggestions.

  9. I picked up the Suspect based on your recommendation. Now I'll just need to find the time to read it!

  10. kathy d.: Thanks for the comment. Sorry for a late response. With ice and snow around at least half the year I do not often think about mysteries with ice and snow. I would suggest Flight of Aquavit by Anthony Bidulka (has a uniquely Saskatchewan winter effort at murder),Snow Job by William Deverell is set in the winter in Ottawa, Darkness at the Stroke of Noon by Dennis Murphy is set in the far North with the brutal cold that is almost unbearable and Dead Cold by Louise Penny has a murder on the surface of a frozen lake.

  11. TracyK: Thanks for commenting. I look forward to a review by yourself.

  12. John: Thanks for the comment and taking up The Suspect. I believe you will enjoy the book.

  13. Thanks, Bill. Will read perhaps Deverell's book Snow Job and note the others.

    A friend who is a real Canadaphile just told me she has three books for me set in the icy North, including one by Stan Jones.

    So many good books, so little time.

    I'm adding a few books from your list to my TBR mountain. I'm fascinated by Inger Ash Wolfe, so I'll read that and ponder the author's real identity.

  14. kathy d.: Thanks for commenting. I will be interesting if the real identity will be made public this summer when the 3rd book in the series is published.

  15. I just read an article from yesterday's Globe and Mall by Michael Redhill who confessed that he is the force behind Inger Ash Wolfe. Here is the link:


  16. kathy d.: Thanks for the information. I was not aware of the article. Another mystery solved!