Catching up with my dozen-title backlog of "I (mostly) paid for it, I ought to read it (and comment on whether or not it was worth doing either)" with some Canadian-written and Canadian-set police procedural mysteries which team a big-city cop moved to a small-town with the local rookie.
My most recent short story read was Canadian author Marcelle Dubé
's Night Shift
, which is a current Smashwords freebie
It's a fairly representative tie-in to the 1st novel in her Mendenhall Mystery series set in a very small town somewhat outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba (closer to Brandon, wherever that is), The Shoeless Kid
, which I bought when Carina Press was having 20% off selected mystery category titles, plus the extra $5 off $10 purchase coupon over the holidays.
Despite it being from Carina, an imprint of Harlequin, TSK
is a completely non-romantic police procedural, centred around new Police Chief Kate Williams, who has to deal with being the big-city interloper on the small-town local police force who was expecting one of their own to get promoted, all the while trying to find out if a crazy homeless guy's insistence that he saw a child being abducted is really the truth or something that came out of the depths of his detached mind.
Newbie Chief Williams turns out to have an unfortunate history with child abduction and major guilt over a previous case, which leads her to spend more time on the homeless guy's story than most of the other cops think she should, save the young rookie who's trying to learn the ropes of investigation himself.
It all turns out in a slightly unexpected but not-too-contrived way (maybe a little over the top with the suspected culprit doing some rather dumb stuff for dramatic tension stretching-out value), but while the actual whodunnit case may be a bit weak, the character bits with Kate trying but not quite succeeding to win her new force over but nevertheless managing to get a bit of a foothold into their wary trust are good.
Mild recommend, perhaps. Story a bit flawed, but a promising start to a nice-enough-looking but unexceptional series if you like the character-dynamic premise. And if you happen to like stuff set in Manitoba and lots of mentions of Tim Horton's coffee, then bonus!
I'm okay with what I paid for it on sale (roughly $2.50-ish) and would be willing to pay roughly the same again if the author happens to hold a coupon discount on the 2nd in series which she has apparently self-published on Smashwords at some point. But not much more.
Much better was Vicky Delany
's BC-set In the Shadow of the Glacier
, 1st in her Constable Molly Smith series which was one of my 99 cent purchases from Poisoned Pen Press' introductory start-of-series "Build Your Library" sale, which is still ongoing as I type this.
Not only did this have a wrap-up that seemed better plotted-out and more polished, but it was also More Relevant To My Interests in certain ways, being set in small-town BC and involving local "hippies vs developers" + "opinionated non-resident Americans getting into the mix" politics which I admit are kind of familiar* around the Lower Mainland.
Anyway, Constable Molly (née Moonlight as the child of said hippies who provide some of the vs) Smith happens to be on-scene during the murder of one of said developers, who was trying to get a proposed Vietnam War draft-dodger memorial park put in limbo on the excuse that it would scare away business from offended war-hawk American tourists for his luxury resort.
In a kind of role reversal contrast to the Dubé books, she gets to be the female rookie to the male newly-arrived-ex-big-city-detective John Winters, and they've an irritating foil in the form of a FOX-network style US reporter who's come up to cover the murder and sensationalize the memorial park to stir outrage among his US viewers and raise his ratings. And there's a subplot with Molly being torn between her job and her hippie mother's disappointment that her daughter has become "The Man" and the demands of the case and the needs of her friend who's being stalked.
The whodunnit plays out fairly unexpectedly but overall wraps up well enough and the lingering personal issues are not conveniently resolved.
Moderate-to-medium recommend, especially if you've a taste for "Sunshine Coast" Canadiana. While this wasn't one of the better or more appealing (despite all the CanCon) PPP mysteries I've read, I did like it enough that I'd look up the rest of the series at the library and buy a few more volumes offered on discount sale to Support A Canadian Author.
And it is written well enough that the story hangs together decently, the characters are pleasantly fleshed out, and the conflict and resolution seem realistic. And there are some very funny moments when interrogating some of the potential suspects, especially the dentist and the deceased's wife. Not to mention, sending the FOX-network-style US reporter packing back to his weasel lair or den or whatever they wallow in.
Well, now it looks like I've just got a 9-book read/comment deficit (of course by tomorrow this probably goes to 11 like a Spinal Tap reference).
* To be honest, the main things I know about Manitoba are that it's prone to flooding and their provincial capital, popularly known as "Winterpeg" due to seriously sub-zero seasonal temperatures, recently reclaimed the coveted "Car Theft Capital of Canada" crown† from local contender Surrey, which is a suburban satellite municipality not that far from where I am right now.
† Not that I begrudge them that title, even though I don't drive.