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R.J. Harlick: Crime Novels Across the Country

Book Cover Silver Totem of Shame

R.J. Harlick's Meg Harris was included on our Canadian Sleuth Lit Wish List in December, an amateur sleuth "who drinks a little too much and is afraid of the dark." She appears most recently in Harlick's latest novel, Silver Totem of Shame, in which Meg encounters the crime scene of a murdered Haida carver while on a visit to Vancouver and begins a journey up the coast to the islands of the Haida Gwaii in search of the murdered boy's family and his killer. 

While she's not cooking up new plot twists, Harlick fulfils her duties as President of Crime Writers of Canada. In this guest post, she offers a coast-to-coast perspective on the Canadian crime writing scene. 

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These are exciting times for Canadian crime writing. With books by Canadian writers appearing more and more frequently on both national and international bestseller lists or as finalists and winners of national and international book awards, I feel we have finally arrived. It is hard to believe that 30 years ago, when Crime Writers of Canada was established, there were only a handful of authors writing distinctly Canadian mysteries. Today there are well over 250. I like to think we Canadians are the next wave to take the mystery reading world by storm.

With so many fabulous recent releases, it is difficult to choose just a few, so I thought perhaps a journey across Canada might be the best way to highlight the mystery scene and give you an opportunity to explore our great country through reading these books.

Long Gone Man

Discover the dark underside of beautiful British Columbia in Long Gone Man, the first in Phyllis Smallman’s Singer Brown series set in the Gulf Islands. Or you can travel up the coast to Haida Gwaii, the mystical islands of the Haida, the setting of my newest Meg Harris mystery, Silver Totem of Shame. E.R. Brown’s Almost Criminal offers an intriguing insight into one of B.C.’s biggest exports. Beneath the Bleak New Moon, the third installment in the Casey Holland mysteries by Debra Purdy Kong will take you on a wild ride through the streets of Vancouver.

The Whisper of Legends

If you like the Rockies, try Open Secret, Deryn Collier’s latest book in the coroner Bern Fortin series set in the Kootenays or Vicki Delany’s Under Cold Stone, the seventh in the Constable Molly Smith series which has the young cop travelling to one of Canada’s idyllic mountain towns, Banff.  

If your penchant is to explore the north you can go on a canoeing adventure down the Nahanni River in The Whisper of Legends, Barbara Fradkin’s ninth book in her award winning Inspector Green series.

Book Cover The Gifted

Stephen Legault’s latest Cole Blackwater mystery, The Glacier Gallows, will have you racing through the Porcupine Hills of Alberta and down to Waterton-Glacier International Park. You can delve into Edmonton’s short but rich past in Condemned to Repeat, the fifth in the Randy Craig academic mystery series by Janice MacDonald. Or you can pay Regina a visit, in Gail Bowen’s The Gifted, the 14th in her award-winning Joanne Kilbourn series.

Book Cover Up in Smoke

Small-town Ontario isn’t quite so quiet in Gloria Ferris’ Corpse Flower, the first in the Cornwall and Redfern mystery series. Nor is tobacco country in Up In Smoke, the third Dr. Zol Szabo medical mystery by Ross Pennie. And Ottawa isn’t so staid either. Brenda Chapman explores its nasty underside in Cold Mourning, the first in the Stonechild and Rouleau series.  

It’s been a long time since Toronto was called "Toronto the Good" and Robert Rotenberg explores every inch of its badness during municipal elections in Stranglehold,the fourth Detective Ari Greene book. Jack Batten’s Take Five, the long awaited third in the Crang series, doesn’t paint Toronto in any better light.

Book Cover Miss Montreal

Montreal has been a popular city for murder with a couple of Toronto writers revisiting their childhood roots in recent crime novels. Howard Shrier’s PI Jonah Geller takes on a new job in Montreal in Miss Montreal, the fourth in the award winning series, while John McFetridge’s Black Rock is set against the 1970’s backdrop of the FLQ crisis. Montrealer Peter Kirby explores his city’s corruption in Vigilante Season, the second in the Inspector Luc Vanier series.

Moving on to the Eastern Townships, Chief Inspector Gamache finds himself once again enmeshed in murderous intrigue in the snows of Three Pines in How the Light Gets In, the ninth book in Louise Penny’s award winning series.

Book Cover Something Fishy

The title says it all in Something Fishy, Hilary MacLeod’s fourth Shores mystery set on not-always-bucolic Prince Edward Island. In Halifax, Father Burke and lawyer Monty Collins join forces in Blood on a Saint, Anne Emery’s seventh book in her award winning Burke-Collins series.

We Canadians are also avid travellers and many crime writers set their books beyond our borders in such far-flung places as Hong Kong, Polynesia, the Guernsey Islands and Mexico in addition to U.S.A. and the U.K. But I will save these for another time.

On a final note, discover other Canadian mystery authors in the recently announced shortlists for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Awards. Recognizing the best in Canadian Crime writing, these awards have been given out annually since 1983. This year’s winners will be announced on June 5 at the Arthur Ellis Gala in Toronto. You can find the shortlists at www.crimewriterscanada.com.

R.J. Harlick is the current president of Crime Writers of Canada and the author of the Meg Harris mystery series set in the Canadian wilderness. Silver Totem of Shame is the latest and 6th book in the series.

May 15, 2014

Books mentioned in this post

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Silver Totem of Shame

A Meg Harris Mystery

by R.J. Harlick
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged: women sleuths, cozy, native american & aboriginal

On Haida Gwaii, Meg unravels a story of betrayal that reaches back more than a century.

While visiting Vancouver, Meg Harris encounters the crime scene of a murdered Haida carver. She and her husband Eric are forced to confront Eric’s painful past when the young victim’s identity is discovered. The repercussions send them up the coast to the is …

rated!
rated!

Silver Totem of Shame

A Meg Harris Mystery

by R.J. Harlick
edition: eBook
tagged: women sleuths, cozy, native american & aboriginal

On Haida Gwaii, Meg unravels a story of betrayal that reaches back more than a century.

While visiting Vancouver, Meg Harris encounters the crime scene of a murdered Haida carver. She and her husband Eric are forced to confront Eric’s painful past when the young victim’s identity is discovered. The repercussions send them up the coast to the is …

rated!
rated!

Almost Criminal

A Crime in Cascadia Mystery

by E.R. Brown
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged: hard-boiled, crime

2014 Edgar Award - Mystery Writers of America — Shortlisted, Best Paperback Original

Medicinal marijuana can be murder.

Charming, wealthy Randle Kennedy has a secret: he’s British Columbia’s most prolific producer of boutique marijuana. He’s developed strains of B.C. Bud to please the most sophisticated palates and produce any desired effect, …

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The Whisper of Legends

An Inspector Green Mystery

by Barbara Fradkin
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged: police procedural, crime

An empty canoe washes up on the shore of the Nahanni River — has the river claimed four more lives?
When his teenage daughter goes missing on a summer wilderness canoe trip to the Nahanni River, Inspector Michael Green is forced into unfamiliar territory. Unable to mobilize the local RCMP, he enlists the help of his long-time friend, Staff Serg …

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The Glacier Gallows

by Stephen Legault
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged: hard-boiled

Tragedy strikes during an expedition through Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. At the base of a windswept ridge that forms the border between Canada and the United States, Cole Blackwater finds the body of his business partner and former rival Brian Marriott, a bullet hole in his head. Cole’s long history of violence and his antagonistic …

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Condemned to Repeat

A Randy Craig Mystery

by Janice MacDonald
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged: women sleuths
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Corpse Flower

A Cornwall and Redfern Mystery

by Gloria Ferris
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged: women sleuths, police procedural, cozy

2010 Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel — Winner

Bliss’s life becomes anything but blissful when she encounters the world of rural pot cultivation.

From country club to trailer park …

Swindled out of a fair divorce settlement, former socialite Bliss Moonbeam Cornwall works a number of part-time jobs to pay the rent on …

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Up in Smoke

A Dr. Zol Szabo Medical Mystery

by Ross Pennie
edition: eBook
also available: Audiobook Hardcover Paperback
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Epidemic investigator Dr. Zol Szabo and his team are called to a high school in the heart of Ontario's tobacco country, where unexplained deaths from liver failure are creating panic. The team begins to suspect a link with contaminated, cut-price cigarettes manufactured on nearby Grand Basin Indian Reserve led by the Badger, the multimillionaire ki …

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Cold Mourning

A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery

by Brenda Chapman
edition: eBook
also available: Audiobook Paperback
tagged: women sleuths, police procedural, native american & aboriginal

Nominated for the 2015 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel

When murder stalks a family over Christmas, Kala Stonechild trusts her intuition to get results.

It’s a week before Christmas when wealthy businessman Tom Underwood disappears into thin air — with more than enough people wanting him dead.

Officer Kala Stonechild, who has left her Northern O …

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Take Five

A Crang Mystery

by Jack Batten
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged: hard-boiled, private investigators

It’s been twenty years since Crang, the Toronto criminal lawyer with the single name and the smart mouth, last sleuthed his way through deep trouble and tricky cases. Now, as witty and nervy as he was in such best sellers as Straight No Chaser and Riviera Blues, Crang has returned, and as usual, he’s got problems.

A client has skipped out on him …

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Black Rock

An Eddie Dougherty Mystery

by John McFetridge
edition: eBook
also available: Paperback Audiobook
tagged:

An artfully told police procedural set in an explosive era in recent historyMontreal 1970. The “Vampire Killer” has murdered three women and a fourth is missing. Bombs explode in the stock exchange, McGill University, and houses in Westmount. Riots break out at the St. Jean Baptiste parade and at Sir George Williams University. James Cross and …

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How the Light Gets In

A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

by Louise Penny
edition: Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged: traditional british

How the Light Gets In is the ninth Chief Inspector Gamache Novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny.
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." —Leonard Cohen
Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it's a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. …

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Something Fishy

A Shores Mystery

by Hilary MacLeod
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged:

Herrings are falling from the sky over The Shores – an unusual phenomenon anywhere, but especially so in this case. A newcomer, Anton Paradis, has set up a restaurant that specializes in dangerous dining, cooking up food that can kill to tantalize the palates of wealthy clients. It's a recipe for death. Someone's bound to get hurt.

Someone does. …

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