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Mystery Minute: Perfect Families, Giant Eels, and More

The Transaction, by Guglielmo D'Izzia

"Under the brutal brightness of D’Izzia’s Sicilian sun, we’re forced to confront the most uncomfortable and grotesque taboos. What’s more, we, like De Angelis, are forced to confront our complicity in their continued existence."—Hollay Ghadery

A property harbouring a gruesome secret goes up for sale. Two men—perhaps, the wrong men—are shot in plain daylight. Nothing is what it seems. And matters do not turn out as anticipated. De Angelis, an inscrutable northerner, is travelling to a small town perched somewhere in Sicily's hinterland to negotiate a real estate transaction, only to find himself embroiled in a criminal conspiracy. While en route, the train he's on mysteriously breaks down, forcing him to spend the night in a squalid whistle stop. What follows is a web of unsettling events, involving child prostitution and brazen killings, that lead to the abrupt demise of his business deal. But De Angelis is undeterred and intent on discovering what went wrong with his transaction. As he embarks on a reckless sleuthing, an unexpected turn of events sends him into a tailspin. At the heart of it is an alluring blue-eyed girl, Marinella. The chance encounter with the eleven-year-old traps him in a psychological and mo …

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Launchpad: Closing Time, by Brenda Chapman

Book Cover Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Closing Time, by Brenda Chapman, which Barbara Fradkin calls "Complex and filled with menace... [this] tale of sex, lies, and betrayal will keep you up at night."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence:

Closing Time is the seventh and last in the Stonechild and Rouleau police procedural series in which Officer Kala Stonechild reluctantly assists with the murder investigation of a high school student while on holiday with her foster niece Dawn in the wilderness no …

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Launchpad: A Match Made for Murder, by Iona Whishaw

Launchpad

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today's we're launching A Match Made in Murder, by Iona Whishaw, the latest instalment in the Lane Winslow Mystery series, which Toronto's Sleuth of Baker Street Bookstore (they know mysteries!) calls "Full of history, mystery, and a glorious BC setting . . . a wonderful series."

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Book Cover A Match Made for Murder

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Hoping for a peaceful honeymoon in Tucson, Lane and Inspector Darling get no time for sun and cocktails, and instead find themselves embroiled in an unrestful schedule o …

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Iona Whishaw: Out of Place

Book Cover A Sorrowful Sanctuary

A Sorrowful Sanctuary, the fifth book in Iona Whishaw's Lane Winslow Mystery Series, is finally here! Whishaw is currently touring the country with dates in Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Hamilton from October 10 to 14. In the meantime, enjoy her recommended reading list of books in which characters—like her own Lane Winslow—find their stories in being out of place. 

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I’m fascinated by the misplaced, and I’m drawn to the stories of people who must act in places that are unfamiliar, especially when these people are affected, knowingly or unknowingly, by the influence of the past. As I selected the following books, I realized that they reflect the displacement I felt growing up in four distinct cultures and moving from place to place. My own books mirror the life of someone who has moved several times, someone who has not quite succeeded in putting down roots—mainly from a lack of practice. The trauma of war bifurcates the lives of many into branches of what existed before and what remains after; so too can the past feel like an alternate plane of existence, leaving survivors feeling fragmented as they are grafted into the circumstances of their new lives. Many of my characters have come from various sorts of wars, both personal and geopoli …

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The Recommend: Summer 2018

Research shows that most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Ian Hamilton (The Imam of Tawi-Wawi), Sam Wiebe (Cut You Down), Dave Butler (Full Curl), Mark Lisac (Where the Bodies Lie), and Dietrich Kalteis (Ride the Lightning).

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Ian Hamilton recommends Paul William Roberts' The Demonic Comedy

I'm a huge fan of the travel/memoir genre. To my mind, writers like Bruce Chatwin, Eric Newby, Pico Iyer, and Norman Lewis who can weave history, personal stories, geography, politics, culture, and social mores into wonderfully complex stories are to be treasured. All of those writers have British roots, and so does another of their ilk: Paul William Roberts. But since Roberts has lived almost his entire adult life in Canada, and identifies himself as Canadian, I have no trouble claiming him as one, and I have no trouble choosing his book The Demonic Comedy as one of the best Canadian books I've ever read.

Roberts—who has a doctorate in ancient Middle Eastern history—writes about Iraq pre …

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Shelf Talkers: The Mystery Edition

There’s probably been research done on this, but I think it’s a well-established enough truth as to not require footnoting: winter is the perfect time of year for mysteries. Whether it’s the punishing cold, the latent isolation, the stark quality of the light through the skeletal trees, the barren, dark ground... it’s easy to imagine the world littered with crime scene tape and evidence tags, mysteries lurking in the shadows, in the seemingly endless twilight.

As a result, it’s likely no accident that many of the best mysteries in recent memory are Scandinavian in origin.

And, it has to be said, Canadian.

While readers likely need no reminder, the recent success of CTV’s Cardinal (based on Giles Blunt’s Forty Words for Sorrow) alerted many viewers to the high quality of homegrown crime fiction.

Which is—as you might suspect—a subject dear to the hearts of Canada’s independent booksellers, who have eagerly weighed in with their own recommendations for the waning days of winter.

Bundle up—you’re in for a chilling night.

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The Bookseller: Colin Holt, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)

The Pick: Sing a Worried Song, by William Deverell

In Sing a Worried Song, the sixth novel in the Beauchamp series, Deverell revisits a murder case 30 years in his detective's …

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Top Shelf: Ep. 7: The Year in Awards

Literary awards are not everything, and they are almost always contentious, but all the same, they add a swirl of energy to the year in books. Here's a handy round up of the Canadian finalists for some of the major awards in 2013.

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The Giller Prize: Lynn Coady won for Hellgoing. Finalists included Dennis Bock for Going Home Again, Craig Davidson for Cataract City, Lisa Moore for Caught, and Dan Vyleta for The Crooked Maid.

north end love songs

The Governor General's Awards: In fiction, Eleanor Catton won for The Luminaries, while finalists included Kenneth Bonert's The Lion Seeker, Joseph Boyden's The Orenda, Colin McAdam's A Beautiful Truth, and Shyam Selvadurai's The Hungry Ghosts. The poetry winner was Katherena Vermett's North End Love Songs; finalists were Austin Clarke's Where the Sun Shines Best, Adam Dickinson's The Polymers, Don Domanski's Bite Down Little Whisper, and Russell Thornton's Birds, Metal, Stones & Rain.

The Governor General's non-fiction winner was Sandra Djwa's Journey With No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page, among a field including Carolyn Abraham's Th …

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Eukrates’ Guide to Wining and Dining in Athens, by Karen Dudley

Corey Mintz may have a few pearls of wisdom when it comes to entertaining guests in 2013, but would he know what to do in Ancient Athens? Thankfully, none of us need go ignorant now that Karen Dudley is sharing Eukrates' Five Quick Tips for Hosts, complete with recommended—and edible—sex toys for bored women-folk.

Karen's genre-defying Food for the Gods, an historical fantasy novel set in ancient Athens, has been nominated for an Aurora Award (for science fiction and fantasy), a Bony Blithe Award (for humorous mystery), a Mary Scorer Award (for best book by a Manitoba publisher), and a High Plains Book Award for best culinary book. The sequel, Kraken Bake, is forthcoming in 2014.

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Ensure your dinner party is a success by following these Five Quick Tips for Hosts:

1. Hire the best foreign chef you can afford for your symposion. In some circles it has become common practice to demand that a cook and his slaves eat before they arrive so you do not have to bear the expense of feeding them. Although some find this behaviour acceptable, it is, in fact, niggardly and vulgar. By offering to feed the cook and his retinue, you will, in addition to appearing magnanimous, secure his gratitude and through this obtain a vastly superior meal for your special dinner party. …

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An Excerpt from Condemned to Repeat, by Janice MacDonald

Edmonton mystery author Janice MacDonald is back with Condemned to Repeat, the latest instalment in the Randy Craig Mystery series. For anyone other than Randy Craig, a contract to do archival research and web development for Alberta’s famed Rutherford House should have been a quiet gig. But when she discovers an unsolved mystery linked to Rutherford House in the Alberta Archives and the bodies begin to pile up, Randy can’t help but wonder if her modern-day troubles are linked to the intrigues of the past...

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Stephen Dafoe was not really what I had expected from what Marni had told me about him. First off, since he had been such a child prodigy and local icon, I sort of expected more ego to be emanating from the man. Instead, when I went out to the curb to see if I could help him with his equipment, he introduced himself with a bright smile and a firm handshake.

“I’d love some help. You know, most magicians have assistants just to help schlep equipment. Fishnets and a Vanna White presentation arm are incidental.”

We propped the front door open with one of the bins and began hauling the rest in, straight to the kitchen hall. We were going to have to close one of the public doors for this event, which had already been agreed to when they were negotiatin …

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Mysterious Non-Mysteries by John Goldbach

John Goldbach's new book, The Devil and the Detective, chronicles lead detective Robert James's efforts to solve cases despite a deep lust for drinking, smoking, and philosophizing. Coach House Books, Goldbach's publisher, asks us to imagine "The Big Sleep via Fernando Pessoa, with a side of Buster Keaton" when it comes to contemplating The Devil and the Detective.

Here, Goldbach ruminates about some excellent books not typically thought of as mysteries but that are enigmatic enough that he's basically created a sub-genre for them: mysterious non-mysteries.

 

Barney’s Version, by Mordecai Richler: I read this novel shortly after it came out in 1997. It's a beautiful book about love and loss and irrevocable heartbreak, but there’s also the question: Did Barney kill his best friend Boogie? I saw Richler speak about the novel once at U of T and he referred to the murder plot in Barney’s Version as a sort of MacGuffin—and it is, in a sense—but it really does add to this wonderful novel.

 

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Crime/Mystery Roundtable With the Finalists for the 2013 Arthur Ellis Awards: Round II

Yesterday the 2013 Arthur Ellis finalists for Best Novel chimed in on the gruesome details of their plots, their sources of inspiration (Shopper’s Drug Mart, said Giles Blunt, and why not?), and what it’s like to have a job description so rooted in the macabre. Who knew that masters of suspense could also be so much fun? (Actually, it makes all the sense in the world, when you think of how gleefully readers approach their mysteries!)

Today, we turn to Best First Novel finalists, who were required to answer the exact same questions. They are Peggy Blair for The Beggar’s Opera (Penguin Canada), Deryn Collier for Confined Space (Simon & Schuster), Peter Kirby for The Dead of Winter (Linda Leith Publishing), Chris Laing for A Private Man (Seraphim), and Simone St. James for The Haunting of Maddy Clare (NAL).

Kiley Turner: What's the best season for murder?

Deryn Collier: I would have to say fall, because you have to think not only of the murder, but of disposing of the body. In winter, the ground is frozen. I just finished reading Peter Kirby’s Dead of Winter and this was problem for his characters. In summer, it’s just too hot. Who wants to kill, let alone dig a grave, when there’s a humidex factor to deal with? And you can’t just leave a body lying aroun …

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Crime/Mystery Roundtable With the Finalists for the 2013 Arthur Ellis Awards

Who among us hasn’t secretly wanted to write a killer mystery? Not a one, we would venture, not a one. So for a vicarious sense of what it’s like to write sleuths and red herrings for a living, we asked this year’s Arthur Ellis Award Best Novel and Best First Novel finalists a few questions. Nine of the ten finalists responded. This morning, we’ll post the Best Novel finalists’ responses. Then tomorrow, the Best First Novel contenders will have their say! The participating finalists for Best Novel are (and NB: the Arthur Ellis Awards will be announced May 30!) Linwood Barclay for Trust Your Eyes (Doubleday Canada), Giles Blunt for Until the Night (Random House Canada), Stephen Miller for The Messenger (Delacorte Press), and Carsten Stroud for Niceville (Knopf).

Kiley Turner: What's the best season for murder?

Carsten Stroud: From my experiences working with an NYPD Homicide squad in the South Bronx for two years, the middle of August, on any night when the temperature hovers around 90. Any hotter, and it's too damn hot, any colder, and people can handle it well enough not to take an axe to a room-mate who snores.

Linwood Barclay: Christmas. Everything is more fun at Christmas.

Giles Blunt: Tuesday.

Stephen Miller: Well, any season but where I live it helps i …

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