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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, September 19, 2017

The Unknown children of Ari Greene, Travis McGee and Harry Bosch

Robert Rotenberg
In Robert Rotenberg’s book, Heart of the City, there is a surprise opening for long time readers of the series. Toronto detective, Ari Greene, is returning to Canada after spending time in England after he was cleared of killing his lover, Jennifer Raglan, in the previous book, Stranglehold. With him is 20 year old, Alison Gilroy, his daughter.

Ari had never known he was a father until after Alison’s mother had died. Following instructions her solicitor contacted Greene to advise he has a daughter. Shocked but elated he travels to England. The solicitor arranges for him to meet Alison and she learns that her birth father was Greene not the unnamed New Zealander she had understood was her father. After some time together she expresses interest in going to live in Toronto and they return to Canada.

Her presence adds several dimensions to the book.

There is another generation of the Greene family. Ari’s father, Yitzhak, is delighted to have a granddaughter:

…. [He] is the opposite of Ari. Outgoing and fun, he hugged and kissed her all the time. Within days she was calling him Grandpa Y, and soon he was fixing up a room for her in the basement of Ari’s house to give her some privacy.

There is a new dynamic for Ari having an adult daughter. They are establishing a parental relationship while living together.

She becomes a part of the story through her anonymous blog, Kensington Confidential.

Alison’s unexpected entrance into the series reminded me of two other famous fictional sleuths who learned they were fathers long years after the child’s birth.

I remember being caught totally off guard over 30 years ago when I read The Lonely Silver Rain by John D. MacDonald. In the final book of the Travis McGee series he learns that he is the father of a teenage daughter, Jean, whose mother, Puss Killian, had been McGee’s lover in Pale Grey for Guilt.

Jean has an unnerving unseen presence for the normally unflappable McGee through the book as he keeps finding cat shaped pipe cleaners outside the door to his houseboat, the Busted Flush. Only at the end does he actually meet her.

It was very clear that McGee was excited by the new relationship and it is a regret that MacDonald died before he could have developed that relationship in more books. I expect Jean would have wanted to become part of McGee’s “salvage operations” but McGee, more conscious of danger for her than himself, would have unsuccessfully sought to keep her out of the operations.

A generation later Harry Bosch, in the double digit series by Michael Connelly, learns he has a 4 year old daughter, Maddie, with former FBI agent, Rachel Wish. The abrasive hard nosed detective is softened by being a father. He enters her life somewhat tentatively.

In the book series she comes to live with him after her mother is killed while Harry and Rachel are seeking to rescue Maddie from kidnappers.

In last year’s addition to the series, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, Maddie has finished high school and Harry is dealing with the emotions of her going away to university.

In the television series a different storyline is developing. Rachel and Maddie come to spend time with Harry in Los Angeles after a killing puts their safety in Las Vegas in issue.

Each of Greene, McGee and Bosch are hard men made a little softer by learning they are fathers.

I found it interesting that all 3 unknown children were girls. I do not have a theory why each of the authors chose the unknown child to be a daughter. I invite comments on the authorial choice of girls.
Rotenberg, Robert – (2011) - Old City Hall; (2011) - The Guilty Plea; (2012) - Stray Bullets(2012) - "R" is for Robert Rotenberg; (2013) - Stranglehold; (2017) - Heart of the City and Lawyers Hate to Lose


  1. Those are three fine examples, Bill, of sleuths who find out they have children, and make room for those children in their lives. To me, it adds to their characters that they welcome those children, and want to be a part of their lives. And you're right; in all three cases, the children add to the series.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Even the hard boiled can benefit from having family in their fictional lives.

  2. I'll bite the bullet & suggest the surprise children are all daughters, rather than sons, because in some arenas (eg macho readers & publishers minds) it's considered more realistic or even more acceptable for 'tough guys' to emote over females than males. It could also be a plot device to give the tough guys a new focus for their protective skills.

    1. Spade and Dagger - Thanks for the comment. Your suggestion is credible. Authors love to play off the contrary for characters. That a "tough guy" can be tender through a loving relationship with a daughter is a reason to have an unknown daughter rather than unknown son.

  3. Well, very often girls have special relationships with their fathers. Thinking of my father and the fact that I've lived almost half of my life without him still stuns me every time.

    Fathers in fiction can get protective and misty-eyed about their daughters going off to college, leaving home and growing up. That isn't usually how fathers with sons leaving home are depicted in fiction. Doesn't mean it's not so in life, but not so much in fiction.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I can sense the pain of your Dad's absence from your life.

      Having not had a daughter I cannot share the experience that has been so important to you.

      On leaving home my sons can verify I was more than misty-eyed when they went away and still find saying good-bye emotional.

  4. Also, men are the writers of these books. Are they speaking from experience or from their observations about fathers and daughters?

    And how do women writers express the relationships of fathers and sons and daughters? Is there a difference? I bet there is.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I will have to see in future reading if there is a difference between female and male authors writing about the relationships of fathers and daughters. Maybe our good friend, Margot Kinberg, at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist could provide some examples.

  5. Michael Connelly has a daughter. He knows of what he speaks as he tells of Bosch's relationship with his daughter, and his feelings as she grows up and leaves home to go to college.

    I'm sure you had a lot of emotions when your sons went off to college and to live their lives. But I'm sure you're very proud of them.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I am sure having a daughter helped Connelly in describing Bosch's relationship with Maddie.

      I did have lots of emotions when my sons went away, first on exchanges and then to university, and I am very proud of them.

  6. FYI: Attica Locke has a new book out set in Texas, "Bluebird, Bluebird." It's not in an existing series, so far.

    A friend who lives in Houston just finished it and raved about it.

    I have it and am only 15 pages in, and know it will be a good book. I'm riveted and wondering how I'll get anything done until I turn the last page.

    I feel like I'm in the little cafe mentioned at the start of the book, and already know its owner.

    When one finds good writing, no reason to wait. Just dive in!

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. Later this fall I intend to read the first book written by Ms. Locke. I had not realized she had a new book published. Thank you for letting me know.

  7. I think this book of Attica Locke's is better than her prior books and it starts a new series. The sense of place is superb, as are the characters.
    I feel like I'm in Geneva Sweet's Sweets cafe, breathing in the aroma of her fried pies, watching the customers.
    I may have to buy a copy to lend to friends.
    So if I were you, I'd read this one first and then go back to the prior series.
    But, gosh, I got nothing done Friday, except read -- and I know I'll get post-good-book slump after it's finished.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the recommendation. "Post-good-book slump" is an excellent phrase I can relate to and may use in the future (with attribution).

  8. "Post-good-book slump" is actually a phrase coined by Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, set in Adelaide, Australia.

    It is such an apt phrase that I use it often.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I shall have to give attribution to Bernadette and appreciation to you for bringing the phrase to my attention.