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.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Finder by Will Ferguson

(26. - 1098.) The Finder by Will Ferguson - What an amazing opening! Atsushi Shimada is the sole policeman on the small island of Hateruma which is one of the Okinawa Islands hundreds of kilometres south of Japan’s main island. The residents are far more Okinawan than Japanese. They maintain their own religious traditions with spirits abounding and local secret noro priestesses.

An agitated foreigner comes upon the island. With no crimes to solve and no order needing maintainance, Officer Shimada decides to occupy part of his day by finding the foreigner to talk to him. The search takes him to Cape Takana, officially the most southerly point in Japan. 

With rising tension he enters the observatory and finds the foreigner dead, killed by a shotgun blast, and a journal of his life which ends:

When I look ahead, I see only darkness. I can find no way forward, no way back, and with the dying of the light I find myself -

It is the eloquent testament of Bill Moore who grew up on Shankhill Road in Belfast. Adept at finding things he becomes a clever thief stealing works of art and artifacts. Agent Gaddy Rhodes from Interpol has tracked him to Okinawa.

And then Ferguson twisted the plot. The foul mouthed obsessive Rhodes with the flyaway hair insists to a meeting of officials from Japan, the U.S. and the U.K. that the dead man is not Moore. No one wants to believe her so no one does.

“The Finder”, a small man, has escaped again to find, usually by theft, more objects and secretly and skillfully and profitably return them to the public world. Rhodes has retrieved several of the objects found by “The Finder”.

Returned to desk duty in America, how can Rhodes pursue “The Finder”?

The story turns to New Zealand where travel writer, Thomas Rafferty, is in Christchurch when the earthquake of 2011 devastates the city. He has a restless soul. After a lifetime of journeying Rafferty is a shambling man drifting across countries as he writes stories to the exact word count commissioned. Ferguson plays upon his experience as a travel writer writing satiric, sometimes biting, examples of clichéd travel writing. All countries in Rafferty’s almost endless writings were “lands of contrast”. It is much easier to re-write the same story time after time than try to distinguish the destinations.

And then amidst the destruction:

The dust that plumed upward had not entirely settled, and a figure moved through this purgatorial dimness. A small man, impeccably dressed. The sort of man who seemed to be wearing a bowler even when he wasn’t. He was carrying a large fold of paper under one arm, blueprints of some sort, with two heavyset construction workers accompanying him in hard hats and reflective vests.

A colourful pursuit in New Zealand becomes rather murky. While beautifully written this section was a challenge at times. Over 60 pages later the digression ends and Rhodes, derisively referred to as Our Lady of the Cubicles, re-appears The book returns to the chase.

The chase becomes more complicated as a love affair becomes involved:

One always falls in love over trivial matters. It’s

why love so rarely lasts.

Added in the chase is a quest for a trivial item

I never anticipated the resolution.

The Finder is a great chase with sleuth and villain and supporting characters all brilliant. Ferguson has created characters who are srikingly individual. Their personal backgrounds are generously developed and give context to the story. I only wish they had a little less noir in their lives. There could have been joy as well as darkness.

Ferguson vividly captures the physical settings, the residents and the nature of life in each of the countries visited by the characters. There is an apt description of the world:

“Bigger than you imagine. Smaller than you’d think.”

It was by far the best book in the shortlist for the 2021 Best Crime Fiction Novel in the Awards of Excellence of the Crime Writers of Canada. 


  1. I really like the sound of the settings for this one, Bill. And I can see how it would draw you in. I give Ferguson credit, too, for developing the characters against the backdrop of a complex plot. That takes skill.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Ferguson knows how to tell a story.

  2. Thanks for the review. Forget my question in the later comment, asking if you had read the five books. I am now enjoying the review.
    I am currently without mysteries to read (gasp!), and I feel like a dog without a bone.
    But finding your book reviews is taking away some of the sting of being bookless.

    1. Kathy D.: I hope you can find The Finder. It is a book worth reading.

  3. I don't know if you have read legal thrillers by Steve Cavanagh, a lawyer by education, from the north of Ireland.
    Thirteen was very good. And The Plea was riveting.
    In Thirteen, a serial killer is on the jury of a murder trial. It's well put together, clever, complex and funny.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I do not think I have read him. So many fine writers in the world.