A Vernon author’s debut novel combines memories of living in small-town Manitoba with a suspenseful murder mystery plot, and can now be found on local bookstore shelves.
Robert (Bob) Stampe spent years writing articles, short stories and poetry after retiring from a long career in the aviation industry, working as a RADAR technician for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) up until 1995.
When the idea for a novel set in a small northern Manitoba town caught hold of him several years ago, it wouldn’t let go.
The Port is a murder mystery set in Churchill, Man., in the summer of 2012.
The security chief at the grain terminal port has been murdered, and an ex-cop from Toronto, hired to replace him, is threatened and assaulted by unknown people who want him to leave. He decides to stay and see it through.
Deceit, drugs, action and avarice — with a little romance thrown in for balance — pace the story to an exciting conclusion.
In addition to his work for the RCAF, Stampe worked for Transport Canada (now Nav Canada) as an electronics technologist. Both careers took him to all corners of the country, including Canada’s far-reaching northern communities, and his stories and poetry reflect the many places he’s lived.
“Our young family would go for Sunday drives around Churchill and surrounding areas, as far as the roads would take us. The people, the community, and that distinctive northern terrain made an impact that stayed with us to this day,” Stampe said.
One day, about six years ago, Stampe’s mind wandered back to those days in Churchill, where he once completed a job for the local port authority that required him to climb to the peak of their huge grain elevators to change a radio antenna.
“That memory came to me during a period that I happened to be reading a lot of crime fiction about Mexican and South American drug cartels. I couldn’t help but think of how a drug cartel might take advantage of a busy port in a remote location like Churchill,” Stampe explained.
With that, the seed of an idea for his first novel was planted. And when he found his protagonist, a longtime cop looking for a major life change, the story began to take shape.
“It began sporadically, but I kept coming back to it. I’d wake up at five in the morning sometimes with an idea or a memory I wanted to incorporate. It took a long time, but the story is finally finished,” he said.
Renowned New Brunswick mystery writer, Chuck Bowie, had this to say about The Port: “Think nothing happens in small-town Canada? Add in a touch of big-city crime and let Robert Stampe blow one northern town wide open with his visual, layered and suspenseful style.”
The Port was recently published by FriesenPress and is available in all formats at several online bookstores, which can be found by visiting the author’s website, robertstampe.com.
A limited number of soft-cover copies can also be found at Indigo/Cole’s Bookstore in Vernon’s Village Green Mall.