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, April 26, 2014

Reviewing the 2014 Arthur Ellis Shortlists against My Lists

In my last post I put up the shortlists for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Awards for Canadian crime fiction. The Awards are sponsored by the Crime Writers of Canada. At the start of the post I noted that I had not read any of the short listed books for the second year in a row.

As I looked at the lists I thought about the Canadian crime fiction I had read in 2013. There were several excellent books. I went back into my reading for the year and looked up the books nominated for Awards to see which books I had read that did not make the shortlists. The books I had read involved nominations in the categories of Best Novel and Best Juvenile/Young Adult.

Going alphabetically by author I read the following books in the Best Novel category:

1.) When the Saints Go Marching In by Anthony Bidulka;
2.) The Gifted by Gail Bowen;
3.) A Cold White Sun by Vicki Delany;
4.) Frisky Business by Jill Edmondson;
5.) The Third Riel Conspiracy by Stephen Legault;
6.) How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny;
7.) The Placebo Effect by David Rotenberg; and,
8.) Stranglehold by Robert Rotenberg.

With regard to my reading The Gifted was my favourite work of fiction for 2013 and Stranglehold was third best. I acknowledge bias for Gail Bowen who I know and whose work I admire. I equally admit a kinship with Robert Rotenberg, a fellow practising Canadian lawyer. At the same time I try hard to be objective in my reviews and I find it hard to believe neither of these fine books made the short list.

Ordinarily an even greater surprise would be that Louise Penny’s book, How the Light Gets In, short listed for the Edgars Best Novel category did not make the short list in Canada. It is not a shock to me as I thought How the Light Gets In was a good but not great book.

Authors on the long list, whom I have read, but not the books nominated this year are:

1.) A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay;
2.) The Scottish Banker by Ian Hamilton;
3.) Into the Dark by Rick Mofina; and,
4.) Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson.

Of those nominated for Best Novel I have read two previous books by Howard Shrier but not this year’s book, Miss Montreal. The last book of Shrier’s I had read was High Chicago. While I liked the book I found the violence quotient excessive.

It is a year in which the Best Novel category is dominated by less prominent authors.

In the Juvenile/Young Adult category I had read Showdown at Border Town by Caroline Woodward.

I do regret Caroline did not make the shortlist. I thought her book very well written. When I look at the shortlist the names I recognize are adults. Caroline is a teenager and I wish she had gained the recognition of at least the shortlist.

I have decided I am going to have to read books from the shortlist to see if my dismay over omissions is justified or whether I am just being cranky.


  1. Bill - I think you have good reason for wanting those books on the shortlists. I appreciate your perspectives on what was and wasn't on those lists, I admit I didn't read Stranglehold, but I was surprised about The Gifted too. I would be interested in knowing how the judges go about selecting short list entries, and I'll be interested in what you think of the books you read that are on the shortlist.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I do not know the criteria for the short lists.