As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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The Plaid Raccoon Press (Canada), 24 March 2017. ISBN: 978-1-927884-09-6(PB)
Crime fiction set in the USA is a common feature of British bookshops;
a Canadian setting is rather less so, so exploring the law enforcement system
north of the border is at the very least an interesting exercise.
Burn Country turned out to be a lot more than that. It not only
follows a murder investigation through from start to finish; it also sets up
some intriguing characters and relationships, and looks at the tensions between
a local police force and the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
It opens as an investigation
into a series of arson attacks, but it's soon evident that the latest fire is
not the work of the same perpetrator. This time there's a body, and the victim
was dead before the fire.
The RCMP get involved when it
emerges that the body belongs to a well-known artist who was also a
controversial member of the government, leading to a suspicion that terrorism
might have been involved. Detective Inspector Ellie March, recently promoted
and with a lot to prove, finds herself fielding both the federal police's
demands and the protests of her own squad. Surprisingly, Assistant Commissioner
Danny Merrick, the RCMP officer in charge, turns out to be stressed, but
polite, easygoing and, not to put too fine a point on it, quite fanciable –
quite unlike the demanding and overbearing federal detectives the squad have
encountered in the past.
So – is the murder a
terrorist attack, or should they be looking for the more usual motives of sex
and money? Ellie and her team, including up-and-coming detective Kevin Walker,
stolid but efficient Constable Carty and class clown John Bishop, co-operate
with the RCMP but refuse to let themselves be side-tracked; they investigate in
a meticulous, painstaking way which eventually solves not only the murder
itself but also several other crimes along the way including the arson attacks.
The characters, police and
civilians alike, are all sharply drawn individuals, and the contrast between
smart, almost opulent Ottawa and poverty-stricken rural Ontario is made almost
painfully clear. All the leading characters have a life outside work, and the
backstories the author creates suggest that a series will follow. In fact, Burn
Country is already the second novel featuring Ellie March and her gallant
crew. I for one would be glad to see a third and fourth.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Michael J. McCannlives and writes in Oxford Station, Ontario, Canada. He was born and
raised in Peterborough, Ontario. He attended Trent University, where he
received a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English, before moving to Kingston,
Ontario, where he earned a Master of Arts in English at Queen's University in
1981. Mike worked as an editor for Carswell Legal Publications (Western) in Calgary,
Alberta, where he was Production Editor of Criminal Reports (Third Series).
After a stint in freelance writing, when he published several short stories in
literary magazines, Mike worked for Canada Customs for fifteen years as a
training specialist and a manager at their national headquarters in Ottawa. Mike
is the author of Blood Passage, a
Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel, and The
Ghost Man, a supernatural thriller.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.