Still Life (2005) by Louise Penny is the first novel the acclaimed author published. (Photo submitted)

Book Talk: Canadian crime creations

A great detective story, crafted by a master of the genre, is not simply about murder

Peter Critchley

For The Morning Star

A great detective story, crafted by a master of the genre, is not simply about murder. It also serves as a moral compass, perhaps more than any other genre, and the mystery authors of this country often lead the way.

Still Life (2005) by Louise Penny is the first novel the acclaimed author published. It is a superbly crafted, insightful work that introduces Chief Insp. Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec, one of the most engaging sleuths to be found in any mystery novel.

Gamache and his investigative team are called in when retired schoolteacher Janet Neal is killed by someone using a bow and arrow in the woods near her home in Three Pines, a tiny hamlet in Quebec just north of the American border. The death hits the small community hard, since Heal touched the lives of all the villagers, particularly her neighbour and friend Clara Morrow.

The locals believe it is a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, since hunting season just opened. But Gamache, a seasoned senior homicide investigator, soon determines it is more likely someone murdered Heal and he and his team set out to track down the killer.

Old City Hall (2009) by Robert Rotenberg is a legal thriller roller-coaster with a remarkably brisk plot, well-developed characters with depth, terrific dialog and a conclusion that will leave you breathless. The tale begins when popular Canadian radio talk show host Kevin Brace is accused of murdering his common-law spouse Katherine Torn. Everyone in Toronto believes the case is a slam dunk, especially since Brace confessed to a newspaper deliveryman that he killed her.

Those are the last words Brace says about the case. He refuses to discuss it with anyone, including his lawyer, Nancy Parish, and only uses written notes to communicate with her. The investigating detective, police officers and Crown attorney on the case are not that concerned — Brace’s confession and the evidence speak volumes and should be enough for a conviction.

But all bets are off when the investigation soon digs up a million-dollar radio contract, a private life that belies Brace’s meticulously constructed public persona and information on Katherine’s own checkered past.

Acts of Murder (1997) by L.R. Wright is a riveting novel that showcases the author’s consummate prose and painstaking attention to detail. This is the ninth title in the acclaimed Karl Alberg series set in the sleepy Sunshine Coast town Sechelt.

As Alberg prepares to marry his long-time friend Cassandra Mitchell, a devious killer stalks the village. The killer, known as the avenging angel seeking to ride the community of those who sin and betray, has already killed three residents. And Alberg, with the help of a striking new Sgt. Edwina Henderson, races against the wire to stop the killer before anyone else is murdered.

These three titles are available through your Okanagan Regional Library, www.orl.bc.ca.

Just Posted

Date set for Silver Creek man’s bail ruling

Curtis Sagmoen will learn on Feb. 28 if he will be released from custody

UPDATE: Serwa second fastest in ski cross seeding

Kelowna ski cross racer has solid run in the seeding round of the women’s ski cross event

Liberals lukewarm on budget

Liberal North Okanagan-Shuswap MLAs unimpressed with NDP budget

Viper players finalists for league honours

Ty Taylor and Josh Prokop of Vernon Vipers nominated for league hardware

Overnight chill falls short of Feb. 21 records

Icy temperatures across the Okanagan-Shuswap don’t beat lows set in 1910, 1894

Thief helps himself to cash register

Vernon business asking for public’s help to identify suspect

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Team USA beats Canada 3-2 on the shootout to take home Olympic gold

Americans win their first gold medal since 1998

Two Haida men detained for crossing U.S.-Canada border

Edenshaw and Frisby travelled from Alaska to Prince Rupert for the All Native Basketball Tournament

Alberta takes out full-page ads in B.C. over strained relationship

It’s the latest move between the two provinces over progress on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

B.C. teacher suspended over allegedly using N-word in worksheets

Trafalgar Elementary teacher under investigation by Vancouver School Board

Toddler swept away in Ontario floods

Toddler missing as flooding forces thousands from their homes in Ontario

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

Mixed messages on B.C.’s efforts to cool hot housing market

Economist says undersupply of homes in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna will keep prices high

Most Read