Saturday, March 19, 2022

To Those Who Killed Me by J.T. Siemens

(8. - 1123.) To Those Who Killed Me by J.T. Siemens - 


You murdered me before I even wrote

this. I should hate you both. I 

wish I could hate you, but I’m not

Evil like you both are.

My only question is ˆWHY?

Why did you push me to this?

Once you figure it out - 


Because I won’t have to

Sloane Donovan finds an envelope with this note next to her friend, Geri Harp, who had been drinking wine and taking drugs. A desperate attempt at resuscitation is unsuccessful. Sloane takes the note rather than giving it to the police. A chill went through me reading the note. 

Sloane and Geri had met 7 years earlier when Sloane was a member of the Vancouver Police Department and Geri was running the New Ways Women’s Shelter.

While a teenager Sloane was an obsessive runner then “a good little Zoloft-zombie”. Now 30 she remains a compulsive runner who downs bottles of wine to ease her ever jangled mind. 

She is a personal trainer at the Hillside Country Club in West Vancouver where Geri was involved with her tennis coach, Andy “Dogger” Peretti. Tennis is the activity of choice for many members.

Sloane has to know why Geri died. The note is lodged in her mind.

She hires a downscale private investigator at a further discounted rate to do research for her.

Sloane has style when she wants to create an impression. When the “slender redhead” wants to pose as a reporter:

I wore a black, knee-length skirt and matching blouse with a charcoal and blue pin-striped jacket and heels.

She left the police several years earlier after a searing event that will haunt her to the end of her days and readers long into the future.

Siemens is a talented writer who can say a lot with a few words. Geri’s daughter, Darci, wants Sloane to train her:

“...So I was thinking I’d like you to teach me to run fast enough to escape my problems. That works, right?”

“With mixed results,” I said.

Few among us in real life face rather than deflect problems.

I wish he had more such insights later in the book.

The pace builds as Sloane contacts those closely and distantly connected with Geri’s life. Not all are glad.

The investigation keeps taking her into the dark corners of the Downtown Eastside and West Van. It is a dark world Geri took herself into with her work at the shelter downtown. Wealthy West Van is little safer.

Drugs - prescription, street, hard, soft, combinations - are used and abused and refused throughout the book.

It is a harsh book. Readers need be ready for the darkness. As common with modern noir the level of violence built through the book with considerable detail. More on that issue in my next column.

The book is at its best exploring the tumultuous Sloane. Constantly on the edge of dysfunction, nightmares of her family past lurking in her “pinballing” mind, she is never at rest but she is resolute and resourceful. 

In a note on the copy of the book he sent me, Siemens said:

Hope you enjoy Sloane’s wild ride!

Wild it was and glad I was to have experienced it. The pages raced by in the exhilarating feeling of a great read. No drug or alcohol needed.


  1. It does sound fast-paced, Bill. And that note is chilling indeed! I can see, though, why you mentioned how dark the story is. It's the sort of book I think I would need to really be ready to read, if that makes sense. Still, the writing style looks compelling, and I can see being drawn into the story. I'll be interested in your next post about the violence in it. Usually I'm not one for a lot of violence, but sometimes it fits the story.

    1. Margot: It is fast-paced. Violence fits the story. Sloane is memorable.