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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.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Fictional Porcupine Plain

Lou Sabatino, in Whipped by William Deverell, is on the run in a Canadian way.

After writing an expose on the Montreal mafia and corruption in the construction industry there is an assassination attempt that he survives in a classic Canadian escape from death. In mid-February, Sabatino, back home after some celebratory drinks, is “wheeling the big green recycle bin to the curb”:

Fortunately for the slightly tiddly ace reporter he slipped on the icy walkway, and the bin went down and so did Lou, just as a black sedan cruised by just before a burst of automatic fire went over his head and took out the snowman behind him.

In the spring, wearying of life in the witness protection plan and wanting to find his wife he takes the bus to his the home of his mother-in-law and father-in-law in northern Quebec. When she is not there he decides to go to Calgary in western Canada where her sister is resident. It is a journey of about 3,000 km. With little money he travels west hitchhiking and riding the bus.

On June 21 he runs out of money in southwest Saskatchewan at the small town of Porcupine Plain. I was startled at the name for there is a real life town of Porcupine Plain about 110 km east of Melfort.

It is ironic that the fictional town is set up in treeless hills of the southwest while the real life town is in the midst of bush and farmland in the northeast.

I was not sure if Deverell was creating a subtle joke with the placement of the fictional Porcupine Plain. Real life porcupines live in forests. Southwest Saskatchewan barely has any trees.

In the fictional Porcupine Plain Sabatino finds an unlikely inroad into the community. Finishing an all day breakfast with the last of his money at the Quill CafĂ© he overhears another customer, Oscar, lamenting issues with his laptop computer. Sabatino, proficient in building and repairing computers, offers to take a look and repairs Oscar’s wonky computer.

Other customers ask him to deal with their electronic devices. A small business is born.

Oscar offers Sabatino a bedroom in his home while Sabatino establishes himself in town.

The real life Porcupine Plain is an equally friendly community. Our law firm has a branch office there which my partner attends weekly.

The community mascot of the real life Porcupine Plain is a statue of a porcupine called Quilly Willy. A photo of the distinctive mascot is at the top of this post.

In the fictional town Sabatino earns a modest income from his computer repair expertise. He supplements his business income by creating and selling those ubiquitous lists with photos that infest the internet. Examples of his work include “TWELVE JESUS QUOTES YOUR MINISTER WILL NEVER READ” and “YOU’LL BE WIPING TEARS OF LAUGHTER AT THESE KITCHEN VIDEOS” and “EIGHT SECRETS TO A LASTING ORGASM”.

While I am not aware of any real life people devising such lists it is credible he could make a living dealing with problem computers. Much of rural Saskatchewan is a long drive from any place a computer might be repaired.

I do not know if Deverell has a connection with the real life town. He did live in Saskatchewan and go to law school here before moving to British Columbia.

As to being able to hide out in rural Saskatchewan we are a long ways from the major cities of Canada but a newcomer does stand out and the tentacles of social media stretch around the world.

I acknowledge it was nice to see Deverell write positively of life in small town Saskatchewan.


  1. These are really interesting insights, Bill - thanks. I can really imagine the sort of small town where Sabatino helps one person, and then word gets around... And I wonder, too, whether Deverell knew about the real Porcupine Plain. Perhaps that was his way of having a little fun...

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Word does spread quickly in small towns.