I’m prepared to accept that reading 13 books is not quite as rigorous a challenge as climbing the highest mountain in Canada, and I’m sure it was a lot more fun but the stages of the Canadian Book Challenge #4 were all names after mountains so I’m happy to claim the scalp. For the challenge I needed to read 13 Canadian books (written by Canadians or set in Canada) between 1 July 2010 and 1 July 2011 so I’ve squeaked in with a month to spare. And here they are one more time:
Book 2 - The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney (rated 3.5) An evocative historical fiction tale featuring the hunt for a murderer in remote Canada in 1867. This one ties for the best sense of place of the bunch.
Book 3 – The Devil’s in the Details by Mary Jane Maffini (rated 3.5) A victim’s right’s activist is named the beneficiary of the will of someone she can’t remember meeting which turns out to put her life in danger.
Book 4 – Dead Politician Society by Robin Spano (rated 3) A Toronto politician is killed and a young female policewoman goes under cover in a local political science course to see if the murderer can be found.
Book 5 – The Taken by Inger Ashe Wolfe (rated 3.5) The discovery that a body in a lake is really a mannequin should bring relief to 62 year-old policewoman Hazel Micallef but it starts a strange game of cat & mouse with a killer.
Book 6 – The Dead of Midnight by Catherine Hunter (rated 3.5) A crime fiction book club losing members due to their grizzly deaths. Eeek, a little close to home
Book 7 - Negative Image by Vicky Delany (rated 3.5) A fashion photographer is murdered in the fictional town of Trafalgar (BC) and local policeman John Winters is under suspicion for the crime.
Book 8 – A Colder Kind of Death by Gail Bowen (rated 3.5) Joanne Kilbourn becomes a murder suspect when the man who is in prison for murdering her husband is killed.
Book 9 – Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt (rated 3.5) A young girl’s body is found 5 months after she was assumed to have run away and Detective John Cardinal must investigate this crime and others linked to it. This was the other book that tied for best sense of place as it had very strong imagery. It would have rated 4 but for the rather lengthy focus on the torture perpetrated on some of the victims.
Book 10 - The Edge by Dick Francis (rated 4) The only ring-in but the book features an across-Canada rail trip on which an English Jockey Club investigator goes undercover to try to stop a criminal deed. It’s Dick Francis at his storytelling best.
Book 11 – The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (rated 2.5) A dystopian future not unlike many others depicted for us I found this one a bit predictable and very, very slow. It didn’t help that the audio book contained the book’s hymns being sung by a dweeb with a guitar which was very grating on the ears.
Book 12 – The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny (rated 3.5) In a fictional Quebec village the body of a man is found in the local bistro which is odd enough but even more peculiar is that no one in the small village admits to knowing who he is.
Book 13 – An Ordinary Decent Criminal by Michael Van Rooy (rated 3.5) A funny and engaging tale in which an ex violent criminal moves to Winnipeg where some people are determined not to make it easy for him to ‘go straight’.
I can’t really draw any insightful conclusions about the state of Canadian crime fiction (all but one of these books was in my preferred genre) other than that I think it’s in fine shape if a near random selection of books can produce 11 out of 13 books rated A good, solid entertaining read with a spark of something special or better on my personal rating scale. The only theme (if you can call it that) I noticed is that more than a few of the books dealt with tough subjects through the use of humour that seemed similar in some ways to the Australian way of looking at things. Of course this could be because I naturally selected books like that when scouring descriptions and reviews for challenge books.
I will be reading more by many of these authors which is, I guess, at least one aim of the challenge and have another Canadian book nearing the top of my TBR pile which will count towards the Global Reading Challenge.