Review: AMUSE BOUCHE by Anthony Bidulka

AmuseBoucheBidulkaAnthon15633_fAfter three or four quite harrowing reads in a row I felt the need for something lighter. Not so light as to be completely without a possible murder (heaven forbid) but light enough to hopefully not need my near-empty tissue box. And so I turned to the first book in a series featuring Canadian private detective Russell Quant. The story is told from Quant’s point of view in a very readable, chatty style and  soon we learn that he left his job as a uniformed police officer a year ago to establish his business and that it’s proved to be slow going. Tracking down someone’s favourite cooking dish is hardly the makings of an investigative legend. But things look up when Russell is hired by one of the city’s power players, Harald Chavell, because the man he was to marry, Tom Osborn, disappeared on the day of the wedding. Initially Quant heads off to France with the belief that Tom has chosen to take the couple’s planned honeymoon itinerary on his own but when this avenue proves fruitless Quant returns home and begins an investigation in earnest.

Although in the end there was rather a lot to like about this book for me it started rather slowly. The trip to France dragged, primarily due to what seemed to me a blindingly obvious, and not very credible, plot device. However when Quant returns home and begins to treat the case like a normal investigation into a missing person, interviewing friends and family, sussing out Osborn’s colleagues and so on, I started to really enjoy what is essentially an old-fashioned whodunnit.

Russell Quant is a likeable character offering plenty of wry observations on his world and behaving very normally. Although he dabbles with a bit of breaking and entering he’s not one of those private investigators who puts himself in mortal peril every few pages. Like the two men at the centre of his investigation he is gay but this is just a fact of life rather than a Big Issue (capitalisation deliberate) for the novel. Bidulka does do a good job though of subtly incorporating this aspect of his characters’ lives into the story by showing the different ways they display or hide their sexuality depending on their work and social circles.

Once past the hurdle of the fairly clunky opening I thought the storytelling was solid, with Quant laying out an array of potential culprits in Tom’s disappearance including his business partner, Chavell himself and possibly even members of Tom’s family. There’s plenty of social life too for Quant who has a selection of interesting friends and a loveable dog. Other than the weather I didn’t notice anything that marked the book as peculiarly Canadian but the small city setting seemed spot on to me.

Overall this offered just what I was looking for: a story that managed to be light and enjoyable without talking down to me and a decent example of what this author has to offer. I’ll happily read the next one in the series.

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Thanks to Bill from Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan for introducing me to this fictional resident of his home town.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My rating 3/5
Publisher Insomniac Press [this edition 2011, original edition 2004]
ISBN 9781554830404
Length 4785 locations!
Format eBook (for kindle via my iPad)
Book Series #1 in the Russell Quant series
Source I bought it
Creative Commons Licence
This work by http://reactionstoreading.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

11 thoughts on “Review: AMUSE BOUCHE by Anthony Bidulka

  1. Bernadette – I am so glad you thought this was a good read. I like the Russell Quant character very much,and I’m particularly glad you mentioned his wry sense of humour. I think that’s one of his more endearing traits. I like his honesty with himself too. Oh, and the wonderpants. I agree too that this is not a dark, heavy read but at the same time, it’s got substance to it. I thought Bidulka created a solid balance in this one and I hope you’ll like others in the series.

  2. Bernadette: Glad you enjoyed meeting Russell. I find him good company. He is a character I am glad is from Saskatchewan. While I wish Russell was from Melfort he is actually from Saskatoon. As the series progresses you learn more and more about Saskatoon.

      • No worries if I remember from my trip to Australia. That is correct. Melfort and Saskatoon are about 200 km apart. I went to university in Saskatoon and often there. Anthony is very good at describing the city.

  3. I just read this book and enjoyed it, couldn’t wait to pick it up due to the lightness and wit it contains. A lot of fun is my take on this book and Russell Quant is an enjoyable guy. I also needed a light read and this filled the bill. Will read more in this series.

    • It’s hard to find a book that’s light and enjoyable but not silly or stupid isn’t it Kathy? I thought this fit the bill nicely and I too will be reading the rest of these.

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  5. Thanks for giving Russell Quant a try. I appreciate your thoughtful comments and hope that if you do try out the next books in the series you enjoy them. Although as in any life (and series?) Russell does confront some serious issues throughout the books, generally they are written with the hope people read them for simple enjoyment and entertainment, maybe a few laughs, and as an escape into a welcoming world. Happy reading!

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