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, January 12, 2016

Bill's Best of 2015 - Most Interesting and Non-Fiction

In my first post of 2016 I set out my favourite fiction reads of 2015. I intended to make my next post my list of Bill’s Best Most Interesting and Non-Fiction of 2015. However, we are in Nuevo Vallarta at a lovely resort and I was distracted by the beach. I refuse to take my computer to the beach though I see electronic devices filtering their way to those lounging in the sun. There are still far more books than electronics on the beach which I consider a positive. Now to the picks.


Most Interesting is my personal category for books I enjoyed and had something unusual about them but were not the best in fiction or non-fiction:

1.) The Ingenious Mr. Pyke by Henry Hemming – The easy winner is this work of non-fiction that I ruefully admit I thought was a work of fiction for over 100 pages. I could not believe all the twists and turns Geoffrey Pyke took in his life were not fictional.

He infiltrated Germany at the start of WW I as a journalist and made a dramatic escape from an internment camp. He made and lost a fortune as a commodities trader in copper. He established an elementary school that actually studied the students.

Yet what was most amazing was his WW II concept of a giant aircraft carrier made of frozen wood pulp and water – a substance called pykrete. The wildly imaginative concept was actually possible.

2.) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley – Flavia de Luce is my favourite new character. The precocious 11 year old scientist and sleuth is both her age and well beyond her age.

While many 11 year olds think about poisons few have made a study of them and actually concocted them in a personal family lab.

When a stranger expires before Flavia in the family garden she is not satisfied to just have the police investigate the murder. She applies her scientific curiosity to the problem.

3.) Last of the Independents by Sam Wiebe – It has been awhile since I found a new hardboiled detective, Michael Drayton, I have enjoyed. At the same time how many private investigators live with their grandmother.

I found it a nice touch that he is aided by the Hastings Street Irregulars. (His office is on Hastings Street in Vancouver.)

His main investigation in the book is with regard to the sexual violation of corpses at a funeral home. I confidently state I have not read of another such investigation. It is reflection of Wiebe’s talent that he makes the investigation interesting but does not sensationalize the topic.


My choices are:

1.) Tough Crimes edited by C.D. Evans and Lorene Shyba – This book was irresistible to me as it featured stories from well-known Canadian criminal lawyers, prosecutors and defence counsel, about a memorable trial in which they appeared as counsel. Each lawyer was asked to pick a trial that was “perplexing or disquieting, had weird or surprising turns, or presented personal and ethical issues”.

What is special is that the lawyers set out how they felt and reacted during these trials. Readers gain understanding of what is like as a lawyer to go through the stresses of a major trial.

The lawyers in this book are my contemporaries at the bar in Canada and I know two of the contributors.

Beyond reading the book because of the excellent stories I recommend the book to all crime fiction writers who will include a lawyer in their work because they can learn how real life lawyers do their work.

2.) 41 by George W. Bush – The 43rd President of the U.S. writes an affectionate, not fawning, biography of his father, the 41st President of America.

George Bush is an unusual combination of Northeastern patrician and Texan oil man. His family was distinguished, members of American aristocracy, and George had an easy future on Wall Street. Instead, he became successful in the oil business and then turned to politics becoming president in 1988.

He is a good man who has great integrity. He has been married to Barbara for over 70 years which I also believes reflects his character.

It is a good biography.


  1. I hope you're having a wonderful time, Bill. I remember when you first reviewed The Ingenious Mr. Pyke, that I thought I'd really want to read that. Now that you're reminded me of it, I still very much do. It sounds like such an intriguing story. And I'd like to read Tough Crimes, too. I'm sure that I would learn a lot.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I hope you get to read both books. I would be most interested in your thoughts upon them.

  2. I do have Last of the Independents by Sam Wiebe but haven't read it yet. I hope I get to it this year.

  3. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. I think Sam Wiebe will soon be well known as a mystery author.

  4. Another interesting list. I am making notes...

  5. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I think you will have to look hard in these books for memorable scenes of clothes in books.