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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Wild Justice by Arthur Haberman

Wild Justice by Arthur Haberman - A clever title taken from a quote of Francis Bacon:

“Revenge is a kind of wild

Detective Sergeant, Daniel Miller, of the Toronto Police Service Homicide honours his father on the anniversary of his death but it is only a gesture of respect for his father’s faith:

“.... God and I don’t get along very well. As you, I have a very Jewish position on Him. I don’t believe he exists and I argue with him regularly.”

The divorced Miller has an easy relationship with his 14 year old son, Avi.

Miller’s family is modern Orthodox Jewish rather than ultra-Orthodox. Despite his comments about God he keeps a kosher kitchen though he is less concerned about Jewish dietary rules when he eats out.

A 42 year old veteran officer Miller has a new partner in Detective Constable Nadiri Rahimi. She is in her early 30’s and a new detective.

A genuine surprise was the revelation that Miller plays the violin in an amateur chamber orchestra once a week. One week they are practising Vivaldi’s Sinfonia in C Major. His son refers to him as a Mozarthead.

In what might be a surprise were the book set in America the new detective team work two weeks before they investigate a murder.

A doctor recommends to a deeply troubled unnamed 37 year old man that he needs to develop a new program to change his life. He decides to seek out the men who committed “unspeakable acts” upon him 25 years earlier.

James Frawley, a 40ish Catholic school teacher, has been beaten to death in his apartment by a chair. He also has broken fingers. He appears to be a “secular monk” who wears rough uncomfortable hair underwear and self-mortification. He is a member of the Opus Dei.

There are short excerpts involving the unnamed man set on vengeance.

Another murder comes their way. Halima Nizamani is 20 when she was strangled and thrown off the bluffs in Scarborough. Her Pakistani father was unmoved by her death. He had cast her from the strongly Islamic family saying she is no longer his child for adopting Western ways.

It was unusual and intriguing how there is a start to a thoughtful examination of the lives of the average and the devout in three faiths - Judaism, Catholicism and Islam. Few works of crime fiction delve into the actual practice of faith in the 21st Century.

There is a good book in the concept. I think it would have been better had the story of the unidentified vigilante killer been dropped and the plot focused on the differences between the faith of the faithful, including doubters, and the rigidly devout.

I admired there were family suppers where those present enjoyed themselves and had discussions that ranged from the routine to the serious.

I appreciated that Miller, unlike obsessive fictional detectives, such as Harry Bosch does take time off and is encouraged to have days away from work.

At least at the start it is almost a textbook on investigation - precise procedures are followed.

It was interesting to have cases that did not involve the central mysteries. Those cases made the book more like the life a real life detective.

The narrative does drive toward a conclusion.

There are no apparent flaws in anyone but the murderers. There is an earnestness to all but the bad guys that is uncommon in crime fiction. While I dislike books devoted to dysfunctional characters there are few paragons in the world.

Unfortunately, the dialogue does not always feel natural. Still Haberman does have a vivid statement on the why of a murderer:

“I had nothing for all this time. I wanted something. I thought if I could
act, then I could ….. I don’t have the words …. lose the past.”

The resolution was abrupt and not convincing to me.

I think there could be a series for Miller like the Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series but Wild Justice is not there. It is a good first novel. I think I would read another in the series to see how Haberman progresses as a writer.


  1. Thanks, as always, for your candor on this one, Bill. Faith is such an important part of a lot of people's lives that I can see how it would be interesting to explore its effects here. And I have to say that it is refreshing to have the detective have a solid relationship with his son, and a healthy attitude towards his work. I can see how you'd want to follow up and see how Haberman develops.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. There were enough good aspects to the book for me to think the next book could be a better book.

  2. Bill, many modern novels, including crime fiction, seem to be focusing on non-plot elements (if I can put it that way) such as culture and traditional ethos. I'm not sure I'd like to read a lot about "the practice of faith(s)" in a crime thriller. If it is in context, then I'd like it to be kept to a minimum and read on about the crime and its investigation. Thank you for the review and the introduction to Arthur Haberman.

    1. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. I do appreciate character development as much as solving the puzzle. Here I was ready for more on the practice of faith. I think it could have made the book much more intriguing.

  3. Very interesting, and what I feel is a very helpful review - pointing out pluses and problems. The subject matter of major religions would definitely be an attraction for me.

    1. MoIra: Thanks for the comment. Haberman did some exploring of practising major religions. He has the knowledge to expand upon faith in the midst of a mystery novel.