About Me

My photo
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, December 22, 2021

Hell and Gone by Sam Wiebe

(36. - 1108.) Hell and Gone by Sam Wiebe - A jolt of adrenaline rushed through me as I followed Dave Wakeland listening to fireworks and then realizing they were gunshots and then watching from his office window as four masked figures emerge from an office building across the street with a hockey bag and then shoot down commuters at a bus stop. Most of the deceased are Chinese.

As with Wakeland I was confused and in shock. It’s 5:15 on a quiet Vancouver morning.  Wanton, even casual killing, is not Canadian. How was this possible?

Wakeland rouses himself to help the survivors and then checks the other building where there are four more bodies in a money counting room. Shaken, confused, on the edge of shock, he reflexively tells the police he did not see anything.

Wakeland does not want to investigate the killings. He wants to be left alone. He is struggling with nightmarish images when he closes his eyes. No one believes he saw nothing and that he is not investigating. He is a tough guy whose speciality is finding people.

The lead police investigator, Superintendent Borden, is convinced Wakefield is withholding information.

His girlfriend, Officer Sonia Drego, is sure he no longer trusts her.

Deputy Chief Constable MacLeish expresses his disbelief personally and tells him to butt out. 

Terry Rhodes, leader of the Exiles Motorcyle Club, summons him for a meeting. Rhodes is intimidating:

But I’d also seen what lay behind it. A predatory business sense that sized a person up, decided value and acted without hesitation. All threats neutralized, all desires gratified, all opportunities seized by the throat. I’d once likened meeting with Rhodes to human chess, played on a minefield.

Rhodes, concerned over blowback for something not done by his members, directs Wakefield to find the killers.

His partner, Jeff Chen, has some connections with Roy Long, a Chinese leader with many other connections and the owner of the building in which the shooting occurred.

And then one of the killers tracks him down.

Wakefield gives up on non-involvement and dives into the case.

Wakefield and Chen have some advantages. Wakefield has street connections with people willing to confide in him rather than the police. Chen has extensive Chinese connections who will only share information within their community.

The “why” for the killings is elusive. The police, the motorcycle gangs and the Chinese leaders are disconcerted. They are accustomed to knowing “why”.

The pace builds as Wakefield, Chen and their staff gain information.

Wakefield is determined to find out “why”.

He has strong personal integrity. He expresses his personal creed:

“I’m a very simple guy. I do one thing well - better than anyone. I don’t compromise, and I don’t let myself owe.”

I would say he does another “thing” well. He has empathy. He relates to people including people he dislikes. He cares. 

There was one more twist in the plot than I thought necessary. It is but a minor flaw.

Hell and Gone is an excellent book. Between Wiebe and A.J. Devlin the mean streets of Vancouver have a pair of outstanding sleuths in Wakefield and Jed “Hammerhead” Ounstead. I expect Hell and Gone to be in contention for awards in 2022.


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


  1. I'm very glad you enjoyed this one, Bill. I've liked what I've read of Wiebe's work, myself, and it's good to hear this one lives up to his standard. It's funny; I don't usually go for 'thriller' elements in a plot unless they're done very, very well. But Wiebe makes them work. You make an interesting point about the number of plot twists in a story, too. I'll have to think about how many works and how many is 'too much.' Thanks for the 'food for thought.'

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I believe Wiebe is bound for a long successful writing career. On one too many twists or more I consider it "Deaverish" in honour of Jeffery Deaver who never seems to be able to stop the twists.