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, May 31, 2021

Downfall by Robert Rotenberg

(19. - 1091.) Downfall by Robert Rotenberg - A young Somali immigrant, Jember Roshan, is casually knoc
ked from his bike by an SUV near the Humber River golf course in Toronto. Tumbling down the hillside he lands upon a homeless woman who has just been killed. Another homeless woman wearing a designer coat helps Roshan and then disappears.

Melissa Copeland was a talented corporate lawyer at a big firm in the towers of downtown Toronto. Obsession with work led to marital strife to mental breakdown to chaos. Ultimately she joins the homeless of Toronto to help them. At the same time she tests, often breaches, the restraining orders and bail conditions that deny her contact with her ex-husband, Karl, and his new spouse, Lydia, and her daughter, Britt. In her spiral down Melissa refuses mental health treatment.

Through stalwart representation her defence counsel, Nancy Parrish, has kept her out of jail. Now Melissa insists on a trial for her latest charges against Parrish’s advice for it is likely she will be found guilty and a jail sentence is inevitable. Melissa rejects the advice.

Complicating the situation Melissa, Nancy and Lydia were once the Three Amigas, close friends in law school and at the same big law firm.

In a head spinning moment Ari Greene appears as the Head of the Homicide Division of Toronto Police Services. Two books ago he had left the force after being charged with murder. In the last book he was a construction worker / defence investigator. Now he has not only returned as detective but ascended to leadership of an elite department.

Reflecting his progression within the force Greene’s protege, Daniel Kennicott, is now an experienced detective taking the lead on investigations.

The consequences of the homeless woman’s death become complicated as she is the second homeless person in days to be murdered by the golf course. The method of killing is the same and the killer leaves a signature clue with each body. Is there a serial killer after the homeless?

The prevailing public opinion is that the police conduct but perfunctory investigations of the deaths of the homeless. Greene and Kennicott see no routine murders. Every death gets their full attention. In the words of Harry Bosch “everybody counts or no one counts”.

The issue of a serial killer of the marginalized is a sensitive issue in current real life Toronto. There is resentment over a serial killer of gay men remaining undiscovered for years.

Should an alert go out to the homeless thousands to be wary? Can they do anything to protect themselves?

With a strong advocate for the homeless being a major character the city’s neglect of the homelessness is a steady theme. Rotenberg moves to the edges of preachiness. Not all homeless are the prominent felled by personal demons.

At the same time Melissa is a striking character. There was a secret to her life  that startled me and twisted the narrative and made the book far better.

The pace accelerates with a meeting at Police Headquarters that surprised, amazed and intrigued me. Prominent defence lawyer, Phil Cutter, delicately manages his client’s disclosure while subtly conveying other information to the detectives. To discuss it more would be too great a spoiler.

As I read the book I tried to see a motive for killing homeless people. Who would have reason to murder the most marginalized of the city? As with many of my favourite mysteries the question of “why” grew greater and greater as I read. I never figured out the motive before the killer was revealed but I had identified the murderer. The motive was credible.

Downfall is the second book that I have read in the past year, the other being An Equal Justice by Chad Zunker, where there is a strong homeless character and a non-stereotypical portrayal of homeless people.

Rotenberg shows how an excellent lawyer / police mystery can be dramatic with neither a gun being drawn by a detective nor a lawyer committing a gross violation of legal ethics.

While Greene remains the lead in Downfall I was glad that the lawyers of Rotenberg’s fictional Toronto had a greater role in this book than in Heart of the City and will discuss balancing the roles of the characters in another post. I think Rotenberg is at his best when he is writing about lawyers and police officers.


Rotenberg, Robert – (2011) - Old City Hall; (2011) - The Guilty Plea; (2012) - Stray Bullets(2012) - "R" is for Robert Rotenberg; (2013) - Stranglehold; (2017) - Heart of the City and Lawyers Hate to Lose and The Unknown Children of Ari Greene, Travis McGee and Harry Bosch

Thursday, May 27, 2021

2021 Winners of Crime Writers of Canada Awards

The highlight of the year for the Crime Writers of Canada is the announcement of winners of the Annual Awards. While vaccinations take us closer to normal life the 2021 Awards still needed to be awarded virtually. A link to this year’s visual presentation is at the end of this post.

Congratulations to the winners. 

I am about to embark on reading the shortlist for Best Crime Novel. After reading the books I will see if I make the same choice as the judges.

In addition to the Awards for authors the Derrick Murdoch Award was presented to Marian Misters. A link to my post on Marian a short time ago following the news release she had received the Award is also at the end of this post.

The winners are:

Best Crime Novel sponsored by Rakuten Kobo, with a $1000 prize

Will Ferguson, The Finder, Simon & Schuster Canada

Best Crime First Novel sponsored by Writers First, with a $500 prize

Guglielmo D’Izza, The Transaction, Guernica Editions

The Howard Engel Award for Best Crime Novel Set in Canada sponsored by The Engel Family with a $500 prize

Katrina Onstad, Stay Where I Can See You, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Best Crime Novella sponsored by Mystery Weekly with a $200 prize

Sam Wiebe, Never Going Back, Orca Book Publishers

Best Crime Short Story sponsored by Mystery Weekly with a $300 prize

Marcelle Dubé, Cold Wave, Sisters in Crime - Canada West

Best French Crime Book (Fiction and Nonfiction)

Roxanne Bouchard, La mariée de corail, Libre Expression

Best Juvenile or YA Crime Book (Fiction and Nonfiction) sponsored by Shaftesbury with a $500 prize

Frances Greenslade, Red Fox Road, Puffin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House

The Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book sponsored by Simpson & Wellenreiter LLP, Hamilton, with a $300 prize

Justin Ling, Missing From the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto's Queer Community, McClelland & Stewart

The Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript sponsored by ECW Press with a $500 prize

The Future by Raymond Bazowski




Monday, May 24, 2021

To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear

(16. - 1088.) To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear - It is May of 1940 and a new generation has stepped forward for war. Billy Beale’s son, young Billy, is with the British Expeditionary Force in France. Young Joe Coombes from the local pub is painting RAF bases with fire retardant paint. Priscilla’s oldest, Tom, is in the RAF. Her 16 year old, Tim, desperately wants to “prove himself” in the service of his country. Unlike contemporary wars the young from the English upper classes through those of working families sign up.

As the German armies press the British Expenditionary Force to the French coast Billy is deeply worried about our Billy. The Coombes, Phil and Sally, are equally concerned about a lack of contact from Joe.

When Joe is found dead on a railroad track Maisie feels compelled to find out what happened. The police, with all the issues of the war, can devote little time to the apparent accidental death of a teenager in the countryside.

As this new loss is absorbed Maisie’s mother-in-law, Rowan, expresses her long frustration over her son, James, risking and losing his life flying when Maisie was pregnant. Maisie tells her:

James died doing something he loved, and we all adored him for his passion. He chose to be an aviator, and chose to test a new fighter aircraft for the government - it was a fateful day and it changed all our lives. Yet it serves no one to go back and forth trying to apportion blame. Forgive yourself, Rowan. Forgive yourself and set yourself free of this blame, of regret.”

Regular trains are delayed by the troop trains bringing back troops evacuated from Dunkirk. Initially the English people were not told of the extent of the crisis. Only when the government realized it could not rescue the army with naval ships did the call go out for “pleasure craft” and “able-bodied men” and the civilian armada was created that crossed the English Channel to the beaches.

The anxiety level of the nation ratchets up as virtually everyone knows someone on the beaches or in the boats gone to pick them up.

The stress becomes almost unbearable when Priscilla and Maisie determine Tim and his 16 year old friend, Gordon, have taken Gordon’s family boat to Dunkirk. Reading of the  continuing fear of the families, for there is no communication possible, brought alive how agonizing it was during WW II for those on the home front worrying about their loved ones.

While they are now the older generation Priscilla and Maisie will do their bit for the war effort. They have signed up to be volunteer ambulance drivers in London. Readers with any knowledge of history cannot help but dread what they will experience in the Blitz. For now they are splitting time between London and the country trying to enjoy a fine summer.

Maisie has fallen in love. Originally she took over guardianship of the little girl, Anna, who lost her mother and grandmother and whose father had long ago returned to Malta. Anna had been sent to the countryside in the previous book, In This Grave Hour, with thousands of children for safety. Now Maisie desperately wants to adopt her. Bureaucracy, even or maybe especially in war, is making it difficult for Maisie to adopt as she is considered a single woman. Being widowed is a cruel disadvantage.

There is a most unusual subplot. I never knew the Bank of England essentially moved to the countryside during the war with most bank notes being made in Hampshire. And more banknotes than usual needed to be printed as existing notes were so constantly in circulation they wore out faster than in peacetime. It was interesting though a touch contrived to fit into the story.

All the books in the series are good but To Die But Once is not one of the best. The murder investigation gets lost at times in the personal dramas of the characters. There is not the flair and insight I am accustomed to from Maisie. She is a bit too much the bystander for me. 

Maisie, now 43, is gradually becoming part of the Establishment. She can easily afford an investigation with no paying client. While she avoids using her title her friends and associates are increasingly members of the upper classes. Being an upper class sleuth is an English fictional tradition but if Maisie is to be a mother will being a detective also count against her in the adoption process?


Winspear, Jacqueline – (2008) - Maisie Dobbs(Best fiction of 2008) (2008) - Birds of a Feather; (2009) - Pardonable Lies; (2011) - Messenger of Truth; (2012) - An Incomplete Revenge; (2012) - Among the Mad; (2013) - The Mapping of Love and Death; (2016) - A Lesson in Secrets; (2016) - Elegy for Eddie; (2018) Leaving Everything Most Loved; (2020) - A Dangerous Place - Part I on Maisie's life since the last book and Part II a review; (2020) - A Journey to Munich; (2021) - In This Grave Hour; Hardcover or paperback by choice

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Fortune by Ian Hamilton

(15. - 1087.) Fortune by Ian Hamilton - Uncle remains the most calculating Mountain Master in the Hong Kong triads. 

He will need all his skills in communication, negotiation, compromise and violent reaction when killings in Macau spill over to Hong Kong and are intertwined with the coming Communist China takeover of Hong Kong in 1997 two years away.

Ten years of co-existence between the triads is threatened by intrigues between some of the Mountain Men who conspire to take over smaller triad organizations.

Always valuing information Uncle reaches out to his contacts in the other triad organizations, the Hong Kong police and Communist China bureaucrats. No other triad leader has his breadth of connections. 

A direct attack on the Fanling triads challenges Uncle’s position, resolve and determination. It is a mistake by the other Mountain Man. Uncle is unwavering as he prepares an immediate forceful response.

He knows he cannot be passive when his triad is attacked. While Uncle avoids violence as unproductive and disruptive to business he will respond to force with force. Where he differs from most Mountain Masters is that his response will never be a reflexive escalation. Uncle has a talent for swiftly responding to a crisis with a well thought out plan that will use violence as part of a measured plan to inflict maximum pain.

He does not project blustering bravado. The wise realize he has a quiet menace to his personality that is best not provoked. He is not an intellectual unable to spill blood. He speaks frankly to bullies.

His men appreciate his honour of the best in triad traditions and that he will be ferocious if needed. They know he will defend them and support them. They appreciate that he is personally brave. They are devoted to him.

Uncle conceives an approach to minimize inter-triad conflict. Will other Mountain Masters recognize that Uncle is an organizational genius? I thought of Lucky Luciano in the 1930’s setting up the Commission to reduce violence between the Italian crime families of New York and provide a structure for dealing with disputes.

It is the third pivotal moment in Uncle’s career.

In Fate Uncle acted decisively, as a young man, to stave off a threat to the Fanling triads and was elected Mountain Master in recognition.

In Foresight Uncle took a calculated risk in being an early investor in Communist China as the Party opened up economic development.

Now he has a chance to change how triads deal with each other.

The book introduces readers to Sonny Kwok a regular character in the Ava Lee series. It was fascinating to read the back story of the powerful bodyguard of Uncle and later protector of Ava.

I was so caught up in Uncle dealing with his own triads, working to avoid triad wars, facing attacks and negotiating with his rivals, the Hong Kong police and Chinese Communist Party . It was a book I could barely turn the pages fast enough and read the book in just over a day. My previous two posts are reviews of the first two books in the series.


Sunday, May 16, 2021

Foresight by Ian Hamilton

Normally I do not repeat a post but I am doing so with Foresight which is the second book in what Ian Hamilton planned as a trilogy involving "Uncle" from the Ava Lee series. As my next post will be Fortune, the third in the series, I thought it work best in the blog if I could have reviews of the three books appear consecutively.


(27. - 1052.) Foresight by Ian Hamilton - After reading Fate, the first in the “Uncle” Chow Tung trilogy I was anxious to read the second. I found it in Saskatoon a week ago. I enjoyed it just as much as Fate.

Foresight moves 12 years into the future from Fate. It is 1981 and the Fanling triads, led by Uncle, are seeking new means to make money. The Hong Kong Jockey Club has undercut the lucrative off-track betting shops of the triads by opening their own shops. Decreasing income has meant a cut in income for the triads. With rumours of discontent Uncle knows he must come up with a way for the organization to restore income and stay strong.

The core of the gang is utterly loyal as they know Uncle is devoted to making decisions that are best for all of them. He has none of the opulent trappings of a gang overlord. He continues to live simply in a one bedroom apartment sparsely furnished. His lone indulgence continues to be betting on the horse races. Where most of the world is drifting away race tracks, Hong Kong residents flock to the races.

He is resolute in refusing to sell drugs. It is not so much a matter of morality as he does not want the complications, especially of police pressure, that go with trafficking. More important, it would end his special arrangement with Inspector Zhang Delun of the Hong Kong police. Useful discreet exchanges of information and favours would cease if the Fanling triads were selling drugs.

In a discussion of the Fanling Triad executive Fong mentions their Mainland manufacturer of knockoff Lacoste shirts, Ming, is looking for investment to expand his business. Uncle also learns of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s) as the Chinese Communist Party seeks to expand the economy.

Normally a man who takes abundant time to make a decision, Uncle immediately goes to see Ming just across the border in Shenzen which is one of the first SEZ’s.. 

Uncle instantly sees China is changing and there are unique opportunities for those who are investing early in the new China.

At Ming’s factory Uncle can see an expansion would bring enormous profits for the Fanling triads. With their own night market in Fanling and access to markets throughout Hong Kong they can move a lot of product.

It was disconcerting how casually the Chinese businessmen pirate brand names. They have no reluctance to rip off the Western companies who own the brands. 

Uncle is adept at dealing with those who make decisions and quickly reaches an accommodation with Peng, an administrator, who can make approvals of business applications succeed or fail.

Uncle is vague about their backgrounds. Triads have been hounded out of mainland China. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would move instantly and violently against Uncle and his executive working on the Mainland if they knew they were triads.

While business is lucrative, problems are inevitable. Uncle’s thoughtful approach and pragmatism serves him well. I appreciated that problems were not solved by constant violence. I consider it a better thriller when killing is used sparingly to resolve issues.

Yet even the most thoughtful of men cannot see all the political machinations within China.

Uncle’s principles are severely tested. Uncle is a man who prizes loyalty. Yet will he keep his word and remain loyal even if it means his death? 

Foresight is an excellent portrayal of the start of great economic change in China. Risks are great. Rewards are greater. It took me 2 days to read Fate. I needed but 3 days for Foresight. I look forward to Fortune, the concluding book in the trilogy.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Fate by Ian Hamilton

(23. - 1048.) Fate by Ian Hamilton - “Uncle” Chow Tung was a powerful presence in the Ava Lee series as he mentored the young accountant turned sleuth. He had great dignity and commanded respect. Yet there was a profound sadness about his personality. The opening pages of Fate explain why. In 1959, desperate to escape Mao’s Great Leap Forward, Chow and his intended wife, Lin Gui-San, join a small group intent on swimming 4 kilometres from the mainland to freedom in Hong Kong. Gui-San does not make it.

By 1959 Chow has reached the position of White Paper Fan (administrator) in the Fanling organization of triads in the New Territories of Hong Kong. Chow’s natural gravitas and thoughtful nature has gained him the honorific of “Uncle” even among men his own age.

Chow lives a simple life. His apartment is spartan. He wears a black suit with a crisp white shirt every day. He has congee early every morning at a neighbourhood restaurant.

Chow has a single indulgence. He faithfully attends the horse races at the Happy Valley Racetrack run by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Each week he pores over the racing form carefully analyzing and weighing the horses and then placing his bets. It is his escape from the demands of triad work. It is no surprise he is a successful bettor.

Chow’s restless clever mind seeks out new opportunities for the triad. Some of the triad’s leaders, reflecting the conservative nature of traditional organizations, question new ventures which inevitably have risk.

Chow sees an opportunity to move from just obtaining “protection” money from merchants to  opening a night market where they could rent out stalls and provide knockoff merchandise to vendors. 

While the leadership of the triads is considering the venture, their Mountain Master (leader), Gao, is killed in a hit-and-run by an unmarked white van. Chow is doubtful it was an accident yet it is not one of the ordinary methods of a triad assasination.

Determined to do what is best for the organization rather than simply follow the tradition of having the Deputy Mountain Master, Ma, appointed Mountain Master  he leads the way in requiring a vote of the 162 members on who will be Mountain Master.

Chow assists in the planning of the lavish funeral of Gao that will include 3 bands from the Fanling triads in the procession.

At the same time a credible rumour reaches Chow that a neighbouring organization of triads is behind the killing of Gao and are launching a takeover of the Fanling triad.

Chow considers the conflicting information on the intentions of other triad organizations. 

There is additional unexpected violence.

Chow seeks a resolution that is not violent but he is a man of principle who will stand his ground.

Chow is not impulsive. He is decisive and he will be ruthless in dealing with anyone who breaks the sacred oath “to protect our brothers above all, even at the cost of our own lives”.

Chow is a leader for whom men will go to war. They know they can trust him.

The story pounds to the ending. 

While there is a constant undertone of threat, violenc is used sparingly. I was reminded of the early Ava Lee books where the intelligence of “Uncle” Chow was pivotal to the plot.

As always, the pages of a Hamilton mystery race by. I read the book in two days. Fate is the opening book in a trilogy. I wish I could read them all together. I am going out looking for Foresight which is the second in the series and published earlier this year. Fate was on the shortlist for the 2020 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Canadian Crime Fiction novel. It is a worthy book to be considered for the Award.


Hamilton, Ian - (2012) - The Water Rat of Wanchai; (2013) - The Disciple of Las Vegas; (2014) - The Wild Beasts of Wuhan; (2014) - The Red Pole of Macau; (2016) - The Scottish Banker of Surabaya; (2018) - The Two Sisters of Borneo; (2019) - The King of Shanghai; (2020) - The Princeling of Nanjing; (2020) - Foresight

Saturday, May 8, 2021

In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear

(18. – 1043.) In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear - The title quotes the famous speech of King George VI as World War II begins in September of 1939. As England goes to war the shadowy Dr. Francesca Thomas of the Belgian embassy contacts Maisie to investigate the death of Frederick Addens in London a month earlier. He had been forced to kneel and then was executed by a single shot to the back of his head. Addens had been a Belgian refugee in World War I. Scotland Yard, busy with all the issues of going to war, has been content to resolve the case by classifying it as a killing during a theft. Maisie accepts the case on the terms she will be paid her regular rates for her work.

Six years have passed since Maisie left England with James for Canada. After a couple of years of grieving over his death she has resumed her business in its former location. Billy Beale and Sandra Pickering are also back at work with her. I gave a contented sigh that the team was reunited. The pair of intervening books had been interesting but I was grateful for Maisie’s return to being a psychologist and investigator in London. The series works best in England.

Maisie, Billy and Sandra start upon their case map, a roll of wallpaper. Maisie’s mentor, Maurice Blanche had used case maps:

“..... Putting down every thought, every consideration, on a large sheet of paper to better see threads of connection. But he always used thick wax crayons in many colours - he said colour stirs the mind, that work on even the most difficult of cases becomes akin to playing. And because a case map is an act of creation, we bring the full breadth of our curiosity to the task.”

The investigation expands when a second Belgian refugee, Albert Durant, is executed in the same manner.

Surely there is a connection. Maisie, Billy and Sandra delve deep into the refugee world of the First World War. I cannot recall the last mystery I read that explored how thousands of Belgians and French fled advancing German armies and found refuge in England. There were so many that Belgian refugee villages were established for the duration of the war.

And the violence does not end. A brutal clever killer is at work.

Maisie and Billy follow leads around London and into the country.

Maisie’s training as a psychologist aids her in dealing with a small girl sent to the countryside who will not speak and who appears to have been sent to the wrong location. Thousands of English children are being sent from the major cities to live in the countryside. Maisie’s heart aches over the stillbirth of the child she and James conceived. The lost girl tugs at her. When her father draws her to talk again all are left emotional. Yet her father and stepmother worry Maisie’s heart will be broken again.

At the same time everyone is joining up to serve their country. In the family of Maisie’s close friend Priscilla, her husband is joining the Ministry of Information, their oldest son has enlisted in the RAF, the second oldest wants to be a sailor, her French speaking nanny has signed up to be an interpreter and Priscilla is ready to be an ambulance driver.

Though 21 years have passed since the end of the Great War, Winspear continues to find credible ways to connect the mysteries of the series with that war.

Few series can move convincingly through history. Including Maisie’s childhood the books have covered the opening 39 years of the 20th Century.

In This Grave Hour is a satisfying return to excellence.


Winspear, Jacqueline – (2008) - Maisie Dobbs(Best fiction of 2008) (2008) - Birds of a Feather; (2009) - Pardonable Lies; (2011) - Messenger of Truth; (2012) - An Incomplete Revenge; (2012) - Among the Mad; (2013) - The Mapping of Love and Death; (2016) - A Lesson in Secrets; (2016) - Elegy for Eddie; (2018) Leaving Everything Most Loved; (2020) - A Dangerous Place - Part I on Maisie's life since the last book and Part II a review; (2020) - A Journey to Munich; Hardcover or paperback by choice

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Albatross by Terry Fallis

(14. - 1086.) Albatross by Terry Fallis - The perfect book for me. Sports, reading, writing,  fountain pens and a hero who does not quite fit in. 

Adam Coryell is 17. He lives in Toronto. He loves fountain pens. He worships words and wants to be a writer. He may be in love with Allison “Alli” Clarkson who equally adores fountain pens and wanting to be an author. Adam and Alli are starting their senior year of high school in 2013.

Adam is in two classes with a new teacher, Ms. (never “Miss” nor “Mrs.”) Davenport. She defies stereotypes. In her 50’s with short grey hair she is “very solidly built”. She too loves fountain pens. She teaches Physical Education (Boys) and Writing Craft. Adam is in both classes with Alli in the writing course.

On her first day Ms. Davenport measures the “extremities” of four of the boys. There is no sexual implication. She has become fascinated with a Swedish Professor Gunnarsson who has propounded the PIPP (Predicative Innate Pinnacle Proficiency) theory that every human has a body which will be suited to a sport and he has developed the measurements to show which sport. For those who exceed the 95th percentile he believes they will excel in the sport to the highest level without practice for practice will alter their natural skills. 

Gunnarsson’s theory had yet to be put into practice as he has never found anyone who scored over 89. Adam is a 99.2 in golf. While he considers himself lanky Ms. Davenport describes him as having “orangutanal arms”. Adam has never held a golf club.

At the Toronto Ladies Golf Club Ms. Davenport is Bobbie and a multi-year club champion. As she takes him to try golf I was completely caught up in the story and eager, even anxious, to find out if the theory worked. 

Ms. Davenport sets him up with a 9 iron and invites him to close his eyes and think about something other than golf and swing. She cannot believe his beautiful and efficient swing. His first swing hitting a golf ball leaves her mouth agape as he hits the ball high, straight and long. As long as he does not think he can hit the ball perfectly. Eliminating the mind from the swing lets his natural talent take over.

It is no surprise that no body measurements are perfect for putting. It is impossible to putt by neither thinking nor practising. Ms. Davenport has him adopt Jordan Spieth’s heads-up approach. Practising putting is boring but Adam is soon competent.

Watching the early development of a prodigy is exhilarating.

Going to the Masters as an amateur with Ms. Davenport as a caddy was a great written experience. I could see this amazing young man walking on the most beautiful golf course in the world all the while conversing with Ms. Davenport about any subject other than golf interrupted only by periodically coming up to his ball and hitting another long straight shot. Adam is a triumph of the uncluttered mind.

His life is simple, devoted to writing with his collection of fountain pens and playing golf.


While friendly he has no close friends. Golfers cannot understand him. His prodigious unpractised skills leave them uneasy to envious to resentful.

Writing is a solitary pursuit. While he enjoys discussions with Ms. Davenport his heart yearns to be with Alli. Without being stated I knew he longed to  complete the antiponal (each writing alternate chapters) novel they began in high school.

Adam is a nice guy. There are not many in contemporary fiction. Dramatic dysfunctional lives dominate crime fiction. To have a nice lead character is almost as rare as 90% plus Gunnarsson measurements. Yet there is subtle drama in the book which drew me through the pages. Fallis is a writer with a gift for irony and humour. 

Albatross explores innate gifts. We all have skills. If only there were Gunnarsson measurements for every human endeavour. Few would ever be perfectly suited but we could be guided by our measurements to use our talents. Yet Albatross makes clear that dreams are as important as following your talents. It is a great book.