By Lynn Willoughby
Principles to Live By ~ David Adams Richards
I have read several other works of fiction by this Canadian author. I find them intellectually stimulating, beautifully written, with parts that make me laugh out loud and parts that send me running to Google. They often make me ashamed of Canada’s past. This one is no different.
John Delano is an RCMP detective who has been an attache at the UN, a Liason Official to the US, and was part of the RCMP presence in Rwanda trying to get Canadians out of that country as the Hutu genocide ramped up. He is brilliant, he is traumatized and frustrated. He is especially exceptional at piecing together evidence and thinking with the mind of a killer. He is intolerant of corrupt and self-serving Civil Servants, he will not stand for stupid. He is alone. “He shouldered the responsibility of his fall from grace, his political alienation, his loneliness. He never fathomed he would be in a situation so grim, so outlandishly horrifying, that he wouldn’t be able to help anyone at all; and that in a curious and hallucinogenic twist, he would be held suspect by influential intellectuals for wanting to.” This gives you a sense of the style of writing. It also gives you a sense of career bureaucrats, whether in the RCMP, the UN or the local Civil Service.
The storyline is always moving. We have John chasing a forgotten case of a missing boy in foster care from a decade ago, John’s never ending search for his own son who disappeared, but what mostly sticks with me is his traumatic and frustrating experiences in Rwanda.
The author is not shy about pointing fingers at the UN, Canada, Belgium and the world for the horrors that transpired in Rwanda while we watched the news.
Not is the author shy about lashing out at current issues: the Northern Gateway pipeline, abused children in Canada and those who are supposed to protect them. “The Occupy Movement this year was like putting on the latest wardrobe – shouting the latest slogans…destruction and meanness and fire always end about nothing at all.”
This book is grim and graphic. There are evils and badness everywhere and Richards’ descriptions are “staggeringly beautiful”. He demands that we look. It is one of the very best books I have read in a long time and I have recommended it to everyone who has asked if I have read anything good lately.
- Lines on the Water
- Nights Below Station Street
…………and many others
Canadians serving with the UN Peace Mission in Rwanda from 1993-96 often found themselves in the midst of some of the worst violence imaginable. The estimated number of people who died in this genocide ranges from between 500,000 to 1 million.