By Lynn Willoughby
Serpents Rising by David A. Poulsen
This author lives just west of Clareshom and clearly enjoyed using Calgary as the locale for the plot to unravel. It is a mystery and you will enjoy his references to not only familiar places and diners in and around Calgary, but also his large collection of music by Canadian artists. He orders “double doubles”, the weather is always in Celsius and there is loads of other Canadiana.
Freelance journalist, Adam Cullen, hires private detective Mike Cobb to find the arsonist who killed Cullen’s wife. The police, the fire department, insurance and forensic investigators have all given up and the case has gone cold. Cobb has had no luck either.
When Cobb heeds help searching for a crack addicted teenage runaway, he ask for Cullen’s help. Cullen has just done a series of news stories on the seamy side of life in downtown Calgary. The two work well together and I enjoyed their conversations and their mutual respect, their shared love of music, their food experiences. For both of them the glamour of a stakeout soon wore thin when the weather was minus 25 degrees Celsius!
The two stories run parallel and we are taken to the empty buildings populated by the homeless, given an inside look at drug businesses run by biker gangs, the pedophile and his story, the gang leader, the lady who volunteers at the homeless shelter, what it is like to be in high school today, or to be a principal in one, not to leave out the cook in the diner. All have things to hide and all are connected.
The characters of Jay and Zoe – two homeless teenagers with a history of drug abuse, were very believable. Poulsen knows his stuff when it comes to kids.
It’s a good mystery, well written with a few glitches in the plot that made me mutter at the editor. However, I will read another Cullen and Cobb mystery when it is published.
- The Welcomin’
- Sam’s Cage
…………..plus many books for kids
Sweetland by Michael Crummy
I do enjoy Canadian books and this was no exception. I found it funny at times, heartbreaking at times, downright sad at times. It is …”a deeply suspenseful story about one man’s struggles against the forces of nature and the ruins of memory.”
A remote island off the coast of Newfoundland has been inhabited for twelve generations. The families know each other very well. Fishing has been the traditional livelihood through all these years, but now more and more people are leaving for jobs “away” – whether factories in Ontario or the oil sands at Fort McMurray.
Now, the government is offering a resettlement package with generous compensation for all the citizens. The sticking point is that EVERYONE on the island has to vacate. There are holdouts especially Moses Sweetland who vows he will never leave.
Moses did work in a factory for a short time when he was a young man, but that time had devastating physical and mental consequences. Now he fears the same thing will happen to his young great-nephew, who not only marches to a different drum, but has real mental challenges.
Moses’ family, friends and neighbours never let up on the pressure to get him to take the package and leave the island. There are tragic results.
This tale of modern survival in an inhospitable landscape and economy is interesting and the consequences of relocation really struck a note with me. It is not just a newspaper story, the people were all very real. The backstory was truly a salute to the resiliency of generations past. After two or three hundred years of dependency on fishing, Newfoundland was now unsustainable. “Canada” has been printed on the passport, but “Newfoundland” is the primary identity.
After Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949, the government devised a resettlement program, erasing hundreds of communities from the map, coercing tens of thousands of Newfoundlanders to move to designated “growth centres”. “Resettled people” were told to “burn their boats” and abandon their centuries old way of life.