About Me

My photo
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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cultural Issues for Canadian Indigenous Sleuths

In my last post I discussed some of the issues involving non-white police officers and their cultures. In that post I went through some of the experiences of several non-Canadian police. Darren Mathews is a Texas Ranger in Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke. NapoleonBony Bonaparte travels around Australia conducting investigations into difficult cases. Nathan Active returns to his birthplace, Chukchi, on the northwest coast of Alaska as a state trooper.

In Canada there are several series with indigenous police officers.

Scott Young's sleuth, Matteesie Kitologitak, was the first Inuit to become an RCMP inspector in the late 1980’s.

In The Shaman’s Knife he returns to the Arctic where he was raised to pursue a murderer who also injured his mother.

Matteesie’s white wife in the South has seen her mother-in-law once and “apparently didn’t really warm to a toothless old Inuit woman with a tattooed face and only one eye”.

The investigation takes him to a village on the Arctic Ocean coastline of mainland Canada. As he investigates he uses the experience gained from living on the land as a youth to examine tracks in the snow. I was reminded of the tracking skills of Napoleon “Bony” Bonaparte.

Within the story there are shamanistic issues harkening back to the time when there were no white peoples in the North. Because of his Inuit background Mattessie consults the local shaman.

In Cold Mourning by Brenda Chapman readers are introduced to Kala Stonechild who has moved from northwest Ontario to become a member of the Ottawa Police Services. Her superior is Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau. 

Stonechild has had a difficult life including time in foster homes as a child. Her background brings an edge to her personality.

In the big city she misses the stars of the night sky on her home reserve.

I have read she is the first female fictional First Nations sleuth.

In Hungry Ghosts by Peggy Blair the shift is in reverse from city to country. Charlie Pike from Ottawa Police Services is sent to northern Ontario to work on the investigation into a woman who has been strangled on his home reserve of Manomin Bay.

Band members, upset with the unsolved murders of a number of women, have established a blockade denying access to local police.

The protesters, trusting Pike as a fellow member of the band, allow him onto the reserve to investigate the murder. 

While not the lead character in a crime fiction series, Alex Kequahtooway, is an important character in several books of the Joanne Kilbourn series by Gail Bowen.

One of the intriguing aspects is their relationship. The indigenous Regina police officer and the white university professor become lovers. Their inter-racial relationship has some tensions for some on each side of the racial divide. Though their relationship fails Gail presents them in a positive way as a couple.

With our province continuing to have issues over the relationships between white and indigenous Saskatchewanians I have appreciated the continuing respect for indigenous Canadians shown by Gail in her fiction.

With 15% of our provincial population being indigenous I am hopeful a new crime fiction writer will create an indigenous Saskatchewan sleuth.


  1. This is really interesting, Bill - thanks for a fascinating discussion. Indigenous sleuths and other major characters bring a really interesting dimension to the genre. And, as the genre diversifies, I hope we'll continue to see indigenous sleuths - including indigenous Saskatchewan sleuths.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Crime fiction has broadened my horizons in reading and understanding peoples from inside Canada to around the world.

  2. I had no idea any of these series existed. I admit that, living in NS, my focus is Atlantic Canadian reading - and that's mostly what I hear about. Knowing what the rest of Canada - especially west of Superior - is reading is very interesting for me. Thanks for these recommendations - they're on my TBR list now.

    1. Debbie: Thanks for the comment. I hope you will make some literary trips west of the Great Lakes. There is lots of good crime fiction reading be found out West.