Hell and Gone I wrote to the author, Sam Wiebe, and he promptly replied. Our exchange is below. Sam, thanks for your candid response.
I enjoyed Hell and Gone. A link to my review is below.
Dave Wakefield continues to grow as a character.
After Cut Him Down we exchanged emails. I expressed my concerns over the level of violence in Wakefield’s life and hoped he would use more brains than brawn in the future.
Your response set out your reasons for depicting violence vividly and Wakefield’s participation in vicious confrontations.
Speaking generally, I want the violence in the Wakeland novels to be visceral and uncomfortable. I don't want to trivialize violence. What happens has consequences for both the perpetrator and recipient.
To sum up, I think violence is an intrinsic part of the detective novel, and I take great pains to make the violence in the books realistic, and to show its consequences.
In Hell and Gone you succeeded. There is violence in the book described with an intensity that is searing in its impact. The injuries and deaths are very real.
Unlike previous books I noted Wakefield is less a participant in the violence. He uses his mind more than his fists.
At the same time the consquences of violence have built up inside Wakefield’s mind. I appreciated him showing vulnerability to the violence he has experienced. It is a rare sleuth willing to embark on personal counseling to deal with the dark images of past violence.
I read the Q & A provided by your publisher after completing the book and my review and the first part of this letter. I was caught by the last question and answer:
Where did the title come from, and what does it
mean to you?
Hell and Gone fits into what Wakeland goes through
in the novel. It also fits the journey of the book.
In 2017-18 I hit a low point. I served on a jury for a murder trial which dragged on for several months. Soon after that, my father died. To help my mother keep her house, I had to take a third job. Professionally, I’ve had to fight harder than ever. New agent. New publisher. I think the journey has made me a better writer. Definitely a more appreciative one.
After reading your answer I wondered if the vulnerability I saw in Wakefield also reflects a personal vulnerability from the emotional events you dealt with in your life.
In times of my own vulnerability I have found opportunities for maturing I reflected upon my life.
I am glad Dave and Sonia have committed to their relationship. It is my hope that they may have a child. Too few tough guys in crime fiction are parents. I think Dave is ready to be a father. Might that be a possibility?
I hope your personal trials have eased.
If you are able to reply and are willing I will post your response to this letter.
All the best for 2022.
Bill, thank you so much for the thoughtful review. It means a lot to when someone engages this deeply with the book.
Dave Wakeland (and I notice you wrote "Wakefield" a couple of times--copyediting is never totally done, is it?) is definitely a work in progress as a person--an educable brute--and the series reflects this. In Invisible Dead he's in his late twenties, and in Hell and Gone he's mid thirties. Empathy is a big part of growth, and frankly something I think is in short supply right now. He's fumbling towards it.
As to my personal trials:
I hesitated to include so much personal detail in that Q and A answer, but I thought it was fair for readers who'd been waiting for a third book since 2018.
A lot changed in my life--the loss of my father really hurt, and the wilderness year of acquiring a new agent and publisher was tough. Canadian publishing is not good with homegrown mystery series, and the most successful (like Louise Penny's Gamache series) found foreign success before domestic. But Harbour/D&M has been great, and the audiobook comes out from Blackstone with the US release in March 2022.
Vancouver has changed in that time, too. Covid brought out some ugly truths to the forefront, namely a very overt anti Asian racism.
All of which is to say that these changes are reflected in Hell and Gone, and will be reflected in future novels as well. I'm committed to the series, and I'm so grateful people have responded to this one with enthusiasm.
Regarding fatherhood, it would be hard to fit a child into an East Van one bedroom apartment--but I'm not ruling it out...
Drat the proof reading fail. I will do better next time Sam.
Wiebe, Sam - (2015) - Last of the Independents and The Unhanged Arthur Award; (2016) - Invisible Dead and Sam Wiebe on His Sleuths; (2018) - Cut You Down and Sam Wiebe on Dave Wakeland; (2021) - Hell and Gone