Cut You Down by Sam Wiebe – The security and investigation firm of Wakeland & Chen is doing well in Vancouver. Jeff Chen has gained significant security contracts. Dave Wakeland, with little interest in security, is restless. Private investigations are his strength and his passion. When local university instructor, Dana Essex, steps into his office looking to hire an investigator to find a former student he is ready and willing to take on the case.
Tabitha Sorenson was a resentful, ready to rebel daughter, of a B.C. suburban family.
Dave describes meeting her mother in the middle of the day at home:
Tabitha’s mother looked to be around fifty, a soft featured woman in full makeup and heels. Her professionally cheerful smile would have been the envy of any realty office. The smile diminished when I mentioned her daughter.
Tabitha was determined not to be conventional. Early in university she adopted the political views of the radical left. Later she was drawn into the position of student events coordinator on the student council. While a modestly sized university the council had control of some millions of dollars. With little oversight a financial scandal was inevitable. While authorities doubt Sorenson personally took money she has disappeared. Essex has regretted that she did not pursue a romantic relationship with Sorenson. If Wakeland can find her then Essex will see if Sorenson is interested.
Wakeland is hooked and sets out to find Sorenson with the aid of his half sister Kay, formerly River.
They soon determine that while Sorenson never took any of the missing millions she likely borrowed millions of the student council funds and used them to generate hundreds of thousands dollars. Sorenson is far more clever than anyone around her had realized.
There are few, if any, legitimate businesses in which millions of dollars can be invested for a few months and bring such a substantial return. In B.C. there is a vast illegal trade in marijuana that is always looking for funds. Can it be that a teenager from the burbs has successfully manipulated both student council members and drug dealers?
A Wakeland investigation is not a subtle affair. In the grand tradition of tough guy P.I.’s such as Travis McGee and Spenser he pokes around and sees what happens.
The Hayes brothers are up and comers in the B.C. illicit drug world. They have been establishing their reputations and building their gang.
In downtown Vancouver Anthony Qiu, officially a restaurant owner, is fronting various shady enterprises for a local crime lord
Drug dealers and members of organized crime do not like being poked.
Dave is provocative in his approach and confrontations are inevitable.
Dave is certainly bright enough and witty enough for other investigative techniques. He explains his disinterest in the Nobel Award for Literature:
“Why would you trust a book award given out by the guy who invented dynamite,” I said, “when none of the books involve people dynamiting things?”
I do not see it a spoiler to say Dave and Kay find Tabitha. To say what happened next would be a spoiler. It was a startling, even brilliant plot shift, that I never saw coming. It is a rare day I gasp aloud when reading a book.
Dave’s personal and professional relationship with his ex-lover, Sonia, who is a Vancouver police officer is complex and compelling.
Sam’s skill as a writer has improved from book to book:
Well, hearts break. They break and break. Hers was no
Cut You Down is superb noir crime fiction and I think it will be a contender for awards in 2019. I know I will be considering it for my personal Best of Bill Awards at the end of the year.