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, December 2, 2014

Email Exchange with Michael Redhill on A Door in the River (Part I)

Recently I wrote a review of A Door in the River by Michael Redhill. It was an unfavourable review of the third book in a series I have enjoyed. Links to my review and my post on other reviewers is contained later in this post. I decided to follow up by writing to Michael. Our exchange of emails follows.
I rarely write to a writer after posting a negative review as I do not want the author to feel I am trying to be provocative. I decided to write to you with regard to A Door in the River as I had greatly enjoyed the earlier books with Hazel Micallef.
I wanted to ask you a few questions to give you a chance to respond with regard to issues I had with the book:

1.) I set out in my review my conclusion that the second half of the book moved from being a mystery to a modern thriller. Do you agree that the second half of the book is sharply different from the first half and earlier books in the series? If so, why did you move in a new direction?

2.) I regret to say I did not find the setting of the second half credible. Was it intended to be a real or an allegorical place?

3.) Hazel’s actions as the book reached its conclusions were shocking to me and so different from the character I had come to know in the series. Do you consider you changed her character for the ending? If you did I would be interested in why.

I was also interested in what other reviewers said about A Door in the River and put up a further post with excerpts from a number of different reviews.

If you would like to reply and have your answers posted I will post them with this email.
I appreciated our past exchange of emails when you responded to my questions on becoming public that you were Inger Ash Wolfe.

Bill Selnes
Hi Bill,

Thanks for the courtesy of your letter. I'm very glad that there are people taking these books seriously, and I appreciate your reviewing them and generating discussion about them. I would agree with you that Door is not the strongest entry in the series, and that the setting was too far-fetched. The setting in the novel replaced another one that I eventually decided wasn't interesting enough. I may have gone for more or too interesting. I think the crime is horrifying, but I don't agree that the second half of the book changes genre.

I'm not sure what specifically you mean about the change in Hazel's character. Do you mean the fact that she lets her quarry go? I'd be interested to know how my female readers felt about that. Hazel is both a mother and a daughter and if you are referring to that climactic scene in the forest, I think a great deal is at play there. But maybe you can be more specific. 

I'm sorry you didn't love the book. The next one in the series will be out next fall I believe, and I think you'll like it more ...

I have sent a further email to Michael and he advised he intends to reply when he has time. I will put up that exchange when complete.


  1. Very interesting, Bill. Thanks for sharing this. I think most authors have reasons for the choices they make when they write, and those reasons can often help the reader understand a story better. I also think it was very good of Michael Redhill to respond to you and answer your questions.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I appreciate Michael answering my letter. I am sure there are authors who not respond to a reviewer who has written a negative review.

  2. Bill, thanks for this post. It was interesting to read about your correspondence with Michael Redhill on his third book in the Hazel Micallef series. Having read the previous two books gave you a perspective on the third one. I like the idea of engaging an author for his or her views on specific areas of a book that one read and didn't like. It's the next best thing to full-length interviews.

    1. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. I am going to try to exchange emails more often with authors.