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.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Slaughter Falls by Alix Bosco

Slaughter Falls by Alix Bosco – Anna Markunas is living a life in New Zealand teetering on the edge of chaos. She has recovered sufficiently from depression to work part-time at Peaches Restaurant but must avoid stress. Her lover, Rory, is enduring the collapse of his firm because of the fraudulent actions of his former partner. Her son, Jamie, is a recovering drug addict now working as a chef at the same restaurant where she is employed. It is hard to say whether mother or son is the most fragile emotionally. Only her daughter, about to give birth to her first child, seems relatively stable.

During a long weekend sojourn to Brisbane to watch rugby Anna’s emotional state is further challenged.

First, there is a horrific episode involving a drunken New Zealand fan and a canal and bull sharks. The water holds many dangers.

Second, a dignified senior citizern, Manu Williams, from their group crashes to his death in a fall from the balcony of his hotel room.

During the visit Rory is offered the chance to come to Brisbane to replace Guy Baxter who is taking a year sabbatical from his law practice. Rory is tempted by the prospect of getting away from the firm disaster in New Zealand and starting afresh. Anna wonders if there is a place for her in Rory’s professional life, she is a skilled paralegal, and more important in is personal life if he moves to Australia.

Wanting to see Manu properly taken care of in death Anna looks for his relatives. None can be found. It is soon apparent that Manu was not the Maori man she thought him. Even determining his real identity becomes so complex that Anna is deeply suspicious of his past.

Within her own family the baby born to Anna’s daughter leads, for specific reasons, Jamie to explore an old family photo. The result of the search is astonishing.

Ultimately blocked in her quest for Manu’s actual name Anna calls upon the forensic accountant, Lyall, who is probing the finances of Rory’s firm. Following the money she asks him to delve into the source of the substantial funds of Manu.

Anna, in her prickly personality and use of financial information, reminds me of V.I. Warshawski and, to a lesser degree, Kinsey Milhone.

Despite rising turmoil as she probes Anna cannot give up finding out about Manu.

The mystery moves back and forth between Australia and New Zealand. The differences between the climates are heavily accentuated. New Zealand is a wet, cold, often dreary green land. Northern Australia is a brown arid land baking in the overwhelming heat. I had not heard of blue sky blues until I read the book.

Slaughter Falls was the first mystery I have read with the dual setting of Australia and New Zealand. It works well in this plot. The story effectively uses the people geography, culture and history of each land to tell the story.

I found myself dividing the mystery into four sections. The setting up of the characters and mystery was interesting. The second part dragged for me as the mystery plot line almost disappeared amidst the family stories. The third part was a gripping build up of tension. The fourth part, the conclusion, was abit Hollywood for me though convincingly told.

Anna is a strong character. At 43 she has been battered by life but she manages her woes. She is neither super woman nor a crumbled wreck. I want to read more of Anna. I hope the controversy over her author being revealed as a man after this book was published does not end the series. I was surprised at the impact upon me of knowing the book was written by a man. I will explore that issue in a coming post.

It is not easy finding New Zealand mysteries in Western Canada. I will keep looking for them. (June 5/12)


  1. Bill - Thanks for such a thoughtful and well-reasoned post. Not only have you given a candid and interesting review, but you've also touched on a fascinating topic: does the author's gender matter for the reader? In the same vein, does it change the reader's perception if s/he has previously thought an author was a member of one sex but finds out that the author is actually a member of the other? I will be eager to get your thoughts on that question in your upcoming post.

  2. I've not read any by this author, but I can see I am going to have to, after this review.
    To me, the gender of the author is irrelevant. I have a review going up tomorrow of Mildred Pierce by James M Cain, which is such an accurate, and wonderful, portrait of a woman on all kind of levels. Amazing that it was written by a man? No. Just someone with talent.

  3. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Slaughter Falls is a good book.

  4. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. I am looking forward to reading your review. You always have strong perspectives.