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.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Bills 2019 Best of Non-Fiction and Most Interesting

In my last post I discussed my favourite fiction reads in 2019. This post deals with Non-Fiction and a category of my own, Most Interesting.

With regard to Non-Fiction - 

1.) Big Game - The NFL in Dangerous Times by Mark Leibovitch - The “dangerous times” relate to the head injury issues of football players. He provides a serious look at the consequences. The problem, as happened with tobacco, appears to be evolving to football players choosing to voluntarily taking the risks of brain injury.

More interesting to me were the observations and stories from the many interviews he conducted with team owners. These billionaires, every franchise if worth over a billion dollars, are interesting even eccentric. How good they are at business is less certain for the league’s ever expanding revenues make it difficult to lose money.

Jerry Jones, the very public owner of the Dallas Cowboys, relishes talking to reporters no matter the consequences for his team. This past fall he created turmoil over his negative comments when the Cowboys lost games. His ego is Texan big.

2.) 47 Days: A Journey Back Home by Amanda Perot - The author, who resides less than 50 km from Melfort, undertook a 47 day journey in 2018 of personal discovery after her marriage failed and she was doubting herself. She wanted to meet Saskatchewan women who had or were suffering adversity and see how they were addressing their issues. She financed the trip with the sale of decals and t-shirts.

She called her trip Saskatchewan Sisterhood - The Power of Women’s Voices. On the trip she held presentations to which women were invited to share their stories.

Her writing is passionate and profane. Amanda is a woman of strong emotions. 

I enjoyed the book greatly. I was able to see in my mind every place she traveled around Saskatchewan on her journey of 5,820 km.

3.) Florence Kinrade - Lizzie Borden of the North by Frank Jones - I enjoyed the book and disliked the title. It was too much an effort to capitalize on the notorious American murder case involving Lizzie Borden.

I do not read a lot of true crime. I have enough of that at the office. I did find interesting the story of Florence Kinrade who was suspected of killing her sister, Ethel. Florence asserts the killer was a tramp.

Her family, prominent members of the Hamilton establishment, closed ranks and there was a shoddy police investigation.

In a dramatic inquest, a well known Toronto lawyer, aggressively questions Florence about her implausible story and an unexpectedly adventurous life.

With regard to Most Interesting I have a trio of books:

1.) Cobra Clutch by A.J. Devlin - The debut novel of Devlin won the 2019 Arthur Ellis Award for Best New Crime Fiction Novel in Canada.

“Hammerhead” Jed Ounstead is a former pro wrestler and bouncer who gained his nickname by breaking 2” x 4” boards over his head after winning a match. His initial investigation concerns a kidnapped snake.

The world of minor professional wrestlers is unpredictable and unconventional and entertaining. I think Devlin is about to become a very well known author.

2.) Bird's Eye View by Elinor Florence - Saskatchewan farm girl Rose Joliffe is anxious to support the war effort by joining the military as WW II begins. She is frustrated for two years as there is no role for women. Eventually she enlists in the English Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

Upon learning of her experience in taking photos she is assigned to a unit developing photos. Her intelligence leads to a position analyzing air photos taken by reconnaissance pilots. I found fascinating how much information could be gleaned from skilled examination of these photos.

3.) Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan - I was entranced by the world of super-rich Singapore Chinese families. A million dollars is a pittance. A billion dollars a starter fortune.

The lovely Rachel Chu, a professor in New York City, has no understanding of the prominence and wealth of the family of her boyfriend, Nicky Young. Invited to a wedding in Singapore she is stunned by the attitudes and way of life of his family and friends. They cannot conceive of her disinterest in money.

The men are relatively uninteresting as they concentrate on business. It is the women, especially the mothers of adult children, who are in constant conflict and never ending scheming. They are compelling.

I found Crazy Rich Asians so interesting I promptly read the remaining two books in the trilogy.

A Happy New Year to all readers.


  1. FYI: Since you are a fan of legal mysteries, you should know about Steve Cavanagh's books. Thirteen was mentioned here, I believe. Now I'm reading The Plea, a legal mystery/thriller, featuring Eddie Flynn, an ex-con defense attorney. Cavanagh lives in Belfast, but sets this series in New York. And his books are unputdownable. And there is wit, too.
    Hope this year you get to his books.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I have heard of Cavanagh and think I might have read one of his books long ago.

  2. Bill, I have not quite read a book like "Big Game - The NFL in Dangerous Times", partly because I don't read a lot of nonfiction; something I hope to reverse this year onwards. Nonfiction books, if one has an interest, can be as absorbing as fiction. I also like the premise of Elinor Florence's "Bird's Eye View".

    1. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. While "Big Game" is about North American football the stories are vivid for anyone. "Bird's Eye View" is a fine book.

  3. You have an interesting selection of nonfiction books here, Bill. The question of risk to NFL players is an important one, and I'm glad it's being addressed. Your others all have interesting perspectives, too, and I like the way they focus on life within a particular smaller culture. I'm glad you found some great reads this year.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. How apt that you would note a similarity in my reading choices!

  4. For a moment there I thought Crazy Rich Asians was down as non-fiction! But I see that is not what you said. I really enjoyed this book, hilarious and fascinating and (fiction though it is) having nuggets of truth and revelation. Have you seen the film? I very much enjoyed that too - the social events are amazing.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I have not seen the movie. I must make the effort. Several people have recommended it to me.

  5. I just got a copy of the AJ Devlin book last week. I can't remember whether your blog tipped me off to it or the Sam Wiebe blurb caught my eye. Either way I'm looking forward to it.

    1. Col: Thanks for the comment. I think AJ is your type of writer. Hammerhead is a great character.