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, March 9, 2013

Q & A with Stan Jones on Nathan Active and Napoleon “Bony” Bonaparte (Part II)

Stan took this lovely cover photo in his
living room
Earlier this week I had Part I of a post on an interview with Alaskan author, Stan Jones, after noticing the similarities between his sleuth, Nathan Active, and Napoleon “Bony” Bonaparte from Australia. This post covers the remaining questions and answers with Stan and abit of information on the 5th book in the series.

Continuing the Questions and Answers with Stan:

3.) Each series effectively uses vast empty lands and coasts. Upfield worked in the Australian interior including a job riding the longest fence in the world, a rabbit fence. The biography on your website says:

I landed Bush planes on the sea ice, drove snowmachines over the tundra, hunted moose and caribou, and once helped paddle a sealskin umiaq in pursuit of a bowhead whale on the Chukchi Sea off Point Hope.

What caused you to make geography such an important part of the series?

Having lived in the region in which Chukchi is located in all seasons, Stan said he experienced how the land is terrifying, beautiful and harsh. A land that can always kill you. It always makes an impression.

4.) Both your books and those of Upfield raise issues of indigenous culture being forced to change by a dominant white culture. Why did you choose to explore such issues?

When he resided along the northwest coast, Stan saw how difficult and how much stress was experienced by the Inupiat people in adapting to white culture.

He said Kotzebue was “wet” when he was there and he saw the devastation in the community caused by alcohol.

Stan further mentioned The Anchorage Daily News, the newspaper for which he worked won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for its story, People in Peril, about indigenous people in Alaska and their high rate of suicide.

5.) Upfield sought to improve the pubic image of indigenous Australians through the charismatic and very capable Bony. Upfield said in a letter:

I set out to write a readable book having much aboriginal law centred around the ancient boning of a human being. The more anthropologists of repute study the Australian abo. the further they are mystified by the origin of the race, and the more clearly do they come to think that the race was highly developed when the white and yellow races were human gorillas. I know that the general idea of the abos., based on the Bulletin drawings and jokes is that they are half-wits, and here I have tried to make people understand that the reverse is the truth.

Nathan is certainly a strong character. If Alaska is like my home province of Saskatchewan there remain lots of people with attitudes to indigenous peoples. Are you equally hoping to improve the image of indigenous Alaskans through Nathan’s success as a State Trooper?

Stan was born in Anchorage, spent a few years away from Alaska, and returned to the state when he was 12.

When he was growing up there were stereotypes of indigenous Alaskans as primitive uneducated people. He said there was a famous sign on an Anchorage bar saying “No natives or dogs”.

Many white people were contemptuous of indigenous people and they in turn resented white residents of the state.

With the passing of The Land Claims Act about 40 years ago millions of acres were turned over to indigenous people and communities have used the land to gain economic clout. Stan said attitudes change when there is money.

Stan also feels race is less of an identity issue in the state partially because there are more and more Alaskans of mixed blood living in Alaska.

Thank you for considering my questions.

I look forward to reading Village of the Ghost Bears, the 4th book in the series.

(Good news. Stan said he is working on another Nathan Active book. It will feature a character based on a prominent current Alaskan.)

Best wishes.

Bill Selnes


  1. Bill - Thanks for sharing these questions and answers. I can well imagine that the land Jones writes about would leave a deep impression. Little wonder it's got such a prominent place in the novels. And I credit Jones with frank discussions about the people of that area and their relationships. The interactions among indigenous people and whites are complex and finding ways to deal with the issues those interactions raised will not be easy. I'm glad Jones doesn't sweep that under the proverbial rug.

  2. Very interesting interview, Bill. I don't have any books by Stan Jones yet, but I look forward to getting one and trying it out. Thanks for introducing me to this author.

  3. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I believe a strength of mysteries set outside major cities is the country in which they are set if the author makes use of the opportunity.

    Stan explores the interaction of white and indigenous cultures as effectively as any author I have read.

  4. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. Stan will both entertain you and challenge you.

  5. Again, I enjoyed the interview. I plan to start up the second book in the series soon. Very insightful interview Bill. I didn't know you were a big fan of the series so this was a pleasant surprise (since I follow your blog) Thanks.


  6. Keishon: Thanks for the comment. I think Stan's books deserve a wider readership.