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.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Bill's Most Interesting of 2014

My last post set out the Best Fiction I read during 2014. Each year I have another category of books read which I call Most Interesting. The books on this list have intrigued me in some way. While they are not the Best they caught and held my attention.

My Most Interesting Reads of 2014 were:

1.) Cool Water by Dianne Warren – I found the book interesting as it is a wonderful work of fiction about rural Saskatchewan where I have lived my life. Few works of fiction are set in rural Saskatchewan.

Its descriptions of weather and geography were accurate and important for they shape the lives of Saskatchewan people more than big city residents.

It held my interest because it is an excellent book. It delved into the lives of farm people and residents of the small town of Juliet. It did not dwell excessively on the negative or positive aspects of their lives.

What made it Most Interesting was that I could see myself and my family and neighbours in the characters created by Warren. I could see the fictional characters as real people.

2.) The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – My interest was piqued as the story is focused on a young ballplayer, Henry Skrimshander, from rural South Dakota who gains fame at a small university in Wisconsin.

I love baseball. It is my favourite among the many sports I enjoy and I continue to play the game abit during the summer.

Harbach uses Henry’s ball playing experiences to explore the human psyche. Henry, who has always striven for perfection upon the field, suddenly struggles to make routine throws from shortstop. What happens to the perfectionist who finds he cannot be perfect? Obsession is a never ending theme for literature.There are perils for everyone in thinking while they are doing.

What turned it into a Most Interesting book was the exploration of relationships within the book. Just looking at Henry he has complex interactions with his gay roommate, his catcher and muse, the president of the university and the president’s daughter.

3.) The Devil’s Making by Seán Haldane – The 2014 Arthur Ellis Award winner for Best Mystery novel was Most Interesting to me because of the fascinating relations exchanges between cultures at the heart of the story.

Chad Hobbes, a young English barrister, arrives in Victoria, British Columbia in the late 1860’s. He comes from a rigid class structure to a town which has a mixture of traditional English society, American immigrants, newcomers who are already establishing a Canadian identity and West Coast Indians trying to live their traditional lifestyle.

When a white American is slain and the main suspect is an Indian Chief, Hobbes finds himself trying to understand a mix of cultures. In particular, Hobbes and the reader learn how the white and Indian peoples of the time dealt with each other at time of transition for all the peoples on Vancouver Island.

It is sad that the book has gained little recognition within Canada despite its Award.

3.) I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes – I was immediately interested in the book when a retired spy, Pilgrim, who has written a textbook on investigation is called to a murder in New York City where there are almost no clues. Pilgrim suddenly realizes the killer has used the information in his textbook to conceal the identity of the murder victim.

It became more most interesting was that the bad guy, Saracen, that Pilgrim is called upon to hunt down is far more developed than the average thriller evil one. His life and motivations are explored in detail.

It is a sweep along thriller involving a compelling chase. The book reached Most Interesting status as it had flaws that drew me to write a second post about my reservations with the book.

Overall I still highly recommend the book. Unlike The Devil’s Making, it has achieved great commercial success.

It was a good year for interesting books.

There are a lot of good lists from bloggers of best books from 2014 reading that can be further explored on Kerrie’s fine blog, Mysteries in Paradise.

(It is a coincidence or a statistical anomaly that 5 of the 8 books I chose for my Best Fiction and Most Interesting lists were written by authors whose last names started with "H".)


  1. Bill, I'd like to read "Cool Water" as it is about (rural) Saskatchewan. I can see why it resonated with you. I don't think I read any books in 2014 that appealed to me in the same way. I'm also curious about "I Am Pilgrim" by Terry Hayes and will try and read it this year.

    1. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. There is no cool water in Saskatchewan today. It is currently -28C and not likely to get much warmer.

  2. The Devil's Making sounds intriguing...will have to see if I can track down a copy here. I find it annoying that winning a genre fiction prize like the Arthur Ellis (or own Ned Kelly award) does little to bring the books to a wider audience. But then I guess the same is true of all genres...I know there is a local award for best sci-fi novel and I've no idea what won it this year.

    1. Bernadette: Thanks for the comment. I think The Devil's Making will appeal to you. We are not very good in Canada about national broad based publicity on the Arthur Ellis Awards.

  3. Bill - All of these do sound fascinating! I'd love to read Cool Water and The Devil's Making sounds great too. In both cases, I think what draws me to the books is their portrayal of a particular area and culture and the networks of lives in that place. I'll have to add them to my list.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. You have summed up a post that I have been drafting which includes those books.

  4. I agree with Margot. I am most interested in the Seán Haldane and Dianne Warren books. I will keep an eye open for both.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. I hope you can find them. I fear they will not be easily available in America.

  5. NIce list. I have read I am Pilgrim but not the others. Baseball does NOT attract me, but people do say one can enjoy the Fielding book anyway....

  6. Moira: Thanks for the comment. You can enjoy The Art of Fielding without being attracted to baseball but there is quite abit of the book to which you will not be attracted. I might also say you could enjoy Moby Dick without being attracted to whaling. I would actually be very interested in reading a review from a blogger who is not attracted to baseball.