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.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Parting With Books Finished

Maury Chaykin playing Nero Wolfe
In my last post I started discussing memories from books I had accumulated in the past that I will be giving up shortly. Most of the books I mentioned did not involve crime fiction. This post will primarily reflect  on older crime fiction.

The Lew Archer series by Ross McDonald was an early favourite. I enjoyed the books but could not see reading them again.

With great reluctance I parted with another pair of series.

Emma Lathen (Mary Jane Latsis and Martha Henissart) wrote a wonderful series featuring New York City banker, John Putnam Thatcher. It was one of the first series to make me realize that crime fiction was not dependent on private detectives and police being the sleuths. I appreciated the thoughtful Thatcher using his intelligence and understanding of banking and business to solve crime. He was impeccably dressed with perfect manners.

Harry Kemelman with his Rabbi David Small series provided interesting mysteries. More intriguing was his portrayal of Jewish faith and how was it lived in the northeastern United States during the latter part of the 20th Century. I learned more about Judaism from this series than any other source. I went through the days of the week and wondered if it would end after the days were exhausted. I was glad when Kemelman used days other than days of the week to continue the series.

I decided to keep my Nero Wolfe books. The rotund, profoundly intelligent, orchid loving Wolfe had a long run with stories written from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. I will always be amazed that Rex Stout would work out the plot for each book in his head then sit down at his typewriter and write the books without revisions or edits. I think I might have figured out  the killer once before the reveal in a meeting at the brownstone. Former blogger and great commenter, Margot Kinberg, knows I read enough of Wolfe and Archie Goodwin to try writing in their voices in comments on her blog.

I had forgotten I had read several of the James Bond books by Ian Fleming. They were alright but not books I would go back to read.

I had not thought about a thriller writer I enjoyed decades ago. I enjoyed several books by Trevanian. Having a hero, Dr. Jonathan Hemlock, who was ambiguous in his morality was not common in the 1970’s. I greatly enjoyed The Eiger Sanction. I found the movie interesting but Clint Eastwood was not my image of Hemlock. On the other hand, Jack Cassidy was a perfect villain portraying the evi Miles Mellough.

I did keep my Dad’s favourite book from later in his life. It is Three Against the Wilderness by Eric Collier. The book is the story of Collier and his family who settled in the interior of B.C. in the 1920’s. They resurected a local ecosystem by building by hand dams where beavers had constructed dams. When government officials saw the results they imported a pair of beavers who led the way in preserving and expanding the ecosystem. My Dad loved the outdoors. He trapped for over 60 years. When his eyesight failed I recorded the book on tape cassettes for him. He listened to my recording of the book several times. He could see in his mind everything Collier had done. 

Sharon and I are also keeping a box of books for children and young adults. Dr. Doolittle was an early favourite of mine and I hope of my granddaughters. When the grandchildren are a little older I hope they will like my Tom Swift Jr. adventures. And we have saved some Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries.

Of the two tubs and boxes of books I am not keeping Jonathan and Michael have advised they are not going to take any of the books. I will see which books Brandi from the office would like to read. The remainder will go to the library for its next book sale.

There are still hundreds of books around the house but I am keeping few of the books I read each year.


  1. I wouldn't want to part with my Nero Wolfe books, either, Bill. And I'm glad you highlighted Maury Chaykin as Wolfe, by the way; I think he did a fine job as the orchid-loving sleuth. I've got a few Emma Lathens, too, so your comments about that series resonated with me. That's the thing about going through books, isn't it? It gives a window on one's own past, and really encourages one to think about what really is important/valuable.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I am sure you also have a lifetime of memories around you in books.

  2. Agreed about keeping Nero and Archie around. I have all mine too.

    1. Thanks for the comment Jayne. I think I am going to start re-reading them.

  3. Definitely keep Wolfe and Goodwin. Some people reread those books continually.
    And that is a good idea about keeping those children's books. Dr. Doolittle is timeless, and who doesn't like Nancy Drew.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I think Nero Wolfe books are going to be read long into the future. I loved Dr. Doolittle. Eddie Murphy was never my image of the good doctor. I have not watched the movie. My sister and my wife loved Nancy Drew as girls.

  4. Most U.S. women mystery readers began their adventures into crime with Nancy Drew. I had a friend who actually owned some of the books, and I would go to her house when she wasn't home and sit in her room and read them. I wish I could interest a neighbor's daughter in them.

    This reminds me that the Nero Wolfe books I have are printed in tiny fonts and my eyesight now requires larger print. So I have to find the newer publications or get an ereader.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. With two granddaughters I am hoping that a few years ago there will be some girls in the family interested in Nancy Drew.

      I avoid books with small fonts. Reading them is too hard.