About Me

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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 24, 2019

The Lucky Elephant Restaurant by Gary Ryan

The Lucky Elephant Restaurant by Gary Ryan (2006) - Lane is a Calgary detective. His partner on the force is Harper. His partner at home is Arthur.

Arthur’s sister, Martha, has breast cancer which is probably terminal. She is recently separated from her domineering husband. Their son, Matthew, is 15 with some co-ordination issues, likely from cerebral palsy. With Martha hospitalized Lane and Arthur take Matt into their home. Having no children of their own they are excited and nervous about having a son.

At work Lane and Harper are assigned a missing persons investigation, Kaylie, 4 years old, has been taken from Bobbie, her mother. Her father, Charles, is also missing.

Bobbie is a well known radio host in Calgary whose tag line, “It’s Bobbie. Speak to me.” is known by everyone.

Her younger brother, Jay, is living out of his car while attending university.

The book enters into complex social issues and stereotypes.

The assignment becomes a murder investigation when Kaylie and Charles are found dead in his vehicle near Calgary. The public assessment is a murder / suicide.

Yet forensics raise troubling issues about how the two of them died.

Reports trickle in that the grieving Bobbie in private is far different from her public personna. 

Pressure builds from the community, especially her listeners and fellow church members, to leave Bobbie alone. 

Bobbie asserts the police are victimizing a grieving mother.

Lane, a figure skater as a youth, becomes a hockey referee to help out Matt’s hockey team. A referee in figure skates draws attention.

Jay is befriended by Tony, a member of the Calgary Vietnamese community, after standing up for Tony. Uncle Tran, the owner of the The Lucky Elephant Restaurant, takes an interest in Jay and helps him out financially.

With Martha’s precarious health should Matt stay with his gay uncles or return to live with a distant father.

Martha’s strong Christian faith is a challenge for Lane.

Easy assumptions are challenged.

Ryan uses real Calgary locations. I can see exactly where Lane and Harper are going as they drive about the city and have coffee at their regular coffee shop.

I wished there had been more back story on the characters.

It has been some time since I read crime fiction where the mystery is not who but can the police prove who did it.

I thought of Anthony Bidulka’s sleuth, Russell Quant, as I read about Detective Lane. They are alike in being gay detectives, police and private respectively, in Western Canada. Each is out. Both enjoy life. They differ in that Lane has the partner Russell wants in his life through the series.

The Lucky Elephant Restaurant is a good book. I plan to read more in the series.


  1. I like the title of the book, Bill. That got my attention right away. And I do like the fact that the sleuths seem to be not overly damaged ('though we all have our sadness and sorrow). And it's good to hear the setting is done well. Not surprised that you intend to read more in this series.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. No one is overly damaged. They have experienced challenges but are functional and making the best of life.