How on Earth Did I Get so Jaded*

HurriedChildhoodDuring the 1980’s, Tufts University Professor David Elkind wrote a groundbreaking book The Hurried Child. In it, he made the powerful argument that many of today’s children are put under an untenable amount of pressure to grow up too quickly. One example of this pressure (and we’ve all seen this I think) is media hype that presents children as ‘little adults’ and sometimes even sexualises them. Another is the tendency (although this certainly isn’t the case all the time) for parents, especially single parents, to treat their children more as confidants than as children. All of this, Elkind argues, can do real damage to children, and serves to rob them of those crucial years of childhood development. The book’s been through several editions and is still widely read, which suggests among other things that these problems haven’t gone away.

It’s not always easy to clearly define the boundary between responsibility that helps a child develop important skills, and responsibility and pressure that isn’t appropriate for children. I think we’d all agree that it’s beneficial for young people to learn to, say, be responsible for their schoolwork or their spending money. But, Elkind argues, pre-teens aren’t ready for adult pressure such as sexual attention, and they’re not served well by the enormous pressure that’s sometimes put on them to ‘be the best,’ such as you sometimes see at sport events. There are plenty of children too who are expected to help provide family income and this, Elkind argues, also hurries children.

This issue crosses socioeconomic lines too. Whether or not you agree with each of Elkind’s arguments (and I do recommend the book), it really does seem that many children in all social classes are pressured to grow up quickly. It’s true in real life, and we see that plot thread in crime fiction too.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes relies on a group of such children: the Baker Street Irregulars. Led by a boy named Wiggins, they’re a group of street children who help him with his investigations. They know London very, very well, and can often observe and get information without calling attention to themselves, so they’re quite useful to Holmes. Conan Doyle doesn’t portray them as living very unhappy lives, but it’s interesting to see how even in this more ‘clean scrubbed’ picture of pressured childhood, the boys respond very positively to Holmes’ leadership and interest in them.

Kate Grenville’s The Secret River tells the story of London bargeman William Thornhill. In 1806, when he’s caught stealing a load of wood, he, his wife Sal and their children are transported to Australia. There, they do their best to make lives for themselves. Thornhill comes to love the land he’s moved to, and therein lies the problem. Other people of course have been living on that land for millennia, and there are real cultural and other conflicts between the new arrivals and the people who’ve always been there. Thornhill would like to resolve matters peacefully, but that view is by no means uninanimous, so some terrible crimes are committed. The first part of this novel tells of Thornhill’s early life in London. Born to a very poor family, he soon learns that the family will not survive if the children don’t do as much as they can, as early as they can, to earn money. In that society, it’s taken in a matter-of-fact way, and allowing children to actually be children is a luxury that the poor simply cannot afford.

In Caroline Graham’s A Ghost in the Machine, DCI Tom Barnaby and his assistant Gavin Troy look into the murder of financial advisor Dennis Brinkman. At first Brinkman’s death was thought to be a terrible accident, as his body was found under one of the ancient machines he collected. But his friend Benny Frayle is sure that he was killed, and won’t rest until his death is investigated. At first Barnaby and Troy aren’t convinced that this is a murder, but then there’s another death. Self-styled medium Ava Garrett dies of poison after a séance in which she saiid things about Brinkman’s murder that only the killer would be likely to know. Now Barnaby and Troy are faced with two murder cases. In one of the sub-plots of this story, we meet Ava Garrett’s pre-teen daughter Karen, who has had to grow up far too fast. They live in a not-too-well-kept council house along with Ava’s lodger Roy Priest, who’s also seen too much for his nineteen years. Ava is not a physically abusive parent, but she is self-absorbed and irresponsible. So it’s left to Karen and, when he can help out, Roy, to do the ‘adult work’ of managing the household. That’s not the reason for the murders, but it’s a clear example of a hurried child.

We also see one in Elizabeth George’s A Traitor to Memory. Gideon Davies has always had a rare musical ability and has become a world class violinist. One terrifying day though, he finds that he can’t play note. So he begins to work with a psychotherapist to get to the bottom of his musical block. In the meantime, his mother Eugenie is killed one night in what looks like a hit-and-run accident. But as Inspector Lynley and Sergeant Havers soon learn, this was no accident. As the novel goes on, we see how that death is related to Gideon’s inability to play, and how both are related to a long-ago family tragedy. Part of the novel shows what the Davies family has been like, and how Gideon was pressured from a very early age to grow up because of his musical ability. And that pressure has a lot to do with the kind of person Gideon is now.

Timothy Hallinan’s Philip ‘Poke’ Rafferty series, which takes place mostly in Bangkok, features American ex-pat Rafferty, a travel writer who is also fairly good at finding people who don’t want to be found. He’s married to Rose, a former bar girl, now the owner of an aparment cleaning company, who herself had to grow up too fast. He’s also in the process of adopting Miaow, a former street child who’s seen more during her childhood than anyone should have to see in a lifetime. Being forced to grow up too fast has had a profound effect on Rose and on Miaow and through them, on Rafferty. Although he does his best to provide a good life for both, there’s a hardness to them, especially Miaow, that comes from not having had the chance to be a child.

In Paddy Richardson’s Swimming in the Dark, we are introduced to fifteen-year-old Serena Freeman. She is academically gifted, and her dreams go far beyond the limits of her home in Alexandria, on New Zealand’s South Island. Her teacher, Ilsa Klein, has high hopes for her as well, and considers her a very promising student. Then everything begins to fall apart. Serena stops coming to class regularly, and when she is there, she doesn’t participate. It’s clear that something is wrong, and Ilsa wants to help, so she alerts the social welfare authorities. That turns out to be a mistake, as Serena’s mother is deeply resentful of that ‘interference.’ Then Serena disappears. Her sister Lynnette ‘Lynnie’ travels from Wellington, where she lives, back to Alexandria to help in the search. To her it’s shocking that three weeks have gone by and nothing has been done to find Serena. As the story moves along, we see that Serena has had to grow up too fast, and so have her siblings. In part it’s because of the family’s dysfunction; in part it’s because of the family’s socioeconomic situation. There are other factors too. And they play a role in the events that happen in the novel.

There are a lot of other crime novels in which we meet children who are forced to grow up before they’re ready. It’s very hard on them, and certainly doesn’t aid in helping them to become fulfilled, productive adults. There’s an eloquent commentary on it in Denise Mina’s Garnethill, which takes place in Glasgow. In this scene, protagonist Maureen ‘Mauri’ O’Donnell is visiting her friend Leslie. Here’s what Leslie has to say about a neighbour’s child:
 

‘‘That’s wee Magsie,’ said Leslie. ‘She’s three and a half. Aren’t ye, wee teuchie?’
Wee Magsie kept her skirt over her face and giggled shyly, rocking from side to side.
‘Yes,’ said the biggest girl, who could only have been seven. ‘I’m her big sister and I’ve to look after her today.’…
‘See that?’ said Leslie. ‘They’re wee mammies before they stop being kids.’’

 

Which novels with hurried children have stayed with you?
 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Soul Asylum’s Runaway Train.

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Filed under Arthur Conan Doyle, Caroline Graham, Denise Mina, Elizabeth George, Kate Grenville, Paddy Richardson, Timothy Hallinan

Can’t Know the Fears That Your Elders Grew By*

Parents' SecretsLots of people think they know their parents very well. After all, people who grew up with their parents have been around them for a long time. And in some ways, children really do have a better sense of their parents than we sometimes think.

But children rarely know everything about their parents. And sometimes they learn the most surprising – even shocking – things about people they always thought they knew intimately. Crime fiction uses this plot point quite frequently, so I’ll just mention a few examples.

In Camilla Läckberg’s The Hidden Child, biographer and crime writer Erica Falck is sorting through her parents’ things after their deaths. Along with the clothing and other things she’d expected, she is shocked to discover a Nazi medal. Certainly no-one in her family had ever hinted that there was Nazi sympathy among the members. Falck wants to find out more about this possible connection, so she visits local historian Erik Frankel, who may be able to shed light on those years. Two days after her visit, Frankel is killed. Falck’s husband, police officer Patrik Hedström, investigates officially; in her own way Falck investigates too. In the end, they find out the connection between the town’s history and Frankel’s murder.

Steve Hamilton’s Ice Run begins with the death of Simon Grant, an elderly man who seems to have died of exposure not far from the Ojibway Hotel in Sault Ste. Marie (Soo), Michigan. Former police officer Alex McKnight is at the hotel with his new love interest, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Constable Natalie Reynaud when the death happens. Oddly enough, they had a strange encounter with Grant before he died, and Grant left them an odd message: a homburg hat filled with ice and snow and a note that says I know who you are. All of this makes McKnight very curious, so when he gets news of Grant’s death, he starts to ask questions. It turns out that Simon Grant had a history with the Reynaud family, and that that history still plays an important role in people’s lives. In the end we find that there are things about Natalie’s family that have been kept secret for a long time…

In Jane Casey’s How to Fall, eighteen-year-old Jess Tennant travels with her mother Molly from London to the small town of Port Sentinel, where Molly grew up. The plan is to spend the summer there as both Molly and Jess deal with Molly’s bitter divorce from Jess’ father. Also in the offing is a reunion with Molly’s twin sister Tilly and her family. A year ago, Tilly’s daughter (and Jess’ cousin) Freya died in a terrible fall from a cliff, and everyone is still adjusting to life without her. Jess never met her cousin, so she’s curious about her. And the more she learns, the more she suspects that Freya might not have died by accident. Determined to find out the truth, Jess uncovers more than it’s safe for her to know. She also learns some very surprising things about her mother’s past – things she hadn’t suspected.

That’s also the case with Katherine ‘Kat’ Stanford, whom we meet in Hannah Dennison’s Murder at Honeychurch Hall. Kat’s a TV presenter who’s had more than her share of media invasion of her privacy. So she decides she’s had enough of the TV life, and plans to go into the antiques business with her mother Iris. Iris seems open to the idea as a way to move on after the death of her beloved husband Frank. Then one day Kat gets a surprising call from her mother. Iris has purchased the carriage house on the property of Honeychurch Hall in Little Dipperton, Devon, hundreds of miles from London. Kat’s shocked at this news and concerned about her mother, so she goes immediately to Devon. When she arrives, she finds that the carriage house is in sad need of repair and that Iris has broken her hand in a car accident. So she decides to stay on for a bit to help her mother. That’s how she gets drawn into the mystery of a strange series of events. There’s sabotage, a disappearance, theft, and finally the murder of Verga Pugsley, housekeeper at Honeychurch Hall. It turns out that all of these events are related. And all of them have to do with the Honeychurch family history. As Kat uncovers the truth, she also finds out important things about her mother – things she’d never imagined.

There’s also Scott Turow’s Innocent, which concerns the death of Barbara Bernstein. Her husband, Kindle County chief appellate judge Rožat ‘Rusty’ Sabich, wakes up one morning to find her dead of what looks like natural causes. But before long, questions begin to arise about the case. For one thing, Sabich waited 24 hours after her death before contacting the authorities or his son Nat. For another, the toxicology report on her body shows a large dose of an anti-depressant. And then there’s the fact that Kindle County Prosecutor Tommy Molto suspects that Sabich might have been guilty of another murder twenty years earlier. This and other evidence suggests that Sabich might have killed his wife, so he is arrested and charged with murder. He asks Alejandro ‘Sandy’ Stern to defend him and the case moves to trial.The story is told in part from the perspective of Nat Sabich, who is an attorney himself. As the novel goes on, we see that Nat knows his father well. On the other hand, there are things about his father’s life that he never knew…

Wendy James’ The Lost Girls introduces us to Jane and Rob Tait and their daughter Jess. One day Jess attends a talk given by journalist Erin Fury, who’s working on a story about families who’ve survived the murder of one of their members. Jess knows that hers is one of those families; in 1978, her mother’s cousin Angela Buchanan was killed and her body discovered with a silk scarf round her neck. At first the police investigated the family, but then, another young girl Kelly McIvor was killed, and her body also found with a scarf round the neck. Since then everyone has assumed that the deaths were the work of a killer the press dubbed ‘The Sydney Strangler.’ No-one was ever arrested for the crimes, and although Jess knows the story, she doesn’t really know the details. Through her, Erin Fury gets contact information for Jane and Rob and prepares to talk to the family. As she meets with the Taits and with Jane’s brother Mick, we learn about what really happened to Angela and Kelly. And Jess finds things out about her parents that she didn’t know.

And that’s the thing about parents. Everyone has a history, including parents. It’s sometimes really surprising what we find out about them. These are only a few examples (I know, I know, fans of Agatha Christie’s Five Little Pigs). Over to you.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Teach Your Children.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Camilla Läckberg, Hannah Dennison, Jane Casey, Scott Turow, Steve Hamilton, Wendy James

In The Spotlight: Cornell Woolrich’s Night Has a Thousand Eyes

SpotlightHello, All,

Welcome to another edition of In The Spotlight. Cornell Woolrich isn’t perhaps as well-known as some of his contemporaries such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Yet his work was quite influential and was the basis of several noir films of the era. It’s about time this feature included a Woolrich novel, so let’s look at one today and turn the spotlight on Night Has a Thousand Eyes.

The novel begins late one night when New York Homicide Bureau Detective Tom Shawn is taking a walk by the river. He sees a young woman about to jump off a bridge and rushes to save her. He gets to her just in time and convinces her to go with him away from the bridge. He sees immediately that she’s both well-off and good looking, and there seems no reason for her to want to commit suicide. But she clearly wanted to, which makes Shawn curious. They go to an all-night restaurant where he persuades her to tell her story.

She is Jean Reid, only child of wealthy and successful Harlan Reid, and aside from losing her mother at the age of two, she’s had a good life. That is, until recently, when her story takes a bizarre and darker turn. It all starts when her father takes a business trip to San Francisco. The housemaid warns her of terrible danger if he returns on the date he planned. At first Jean doesn’t take the warning seriously, but enough of her wonders if it’s true that she almost sends him a telegram asking him to change his plans.

When the plane Reid had intended to take crashes with no survivors, Jean is of course convinced that he has died. Then she finds out that he got a telegram and changed his plans. Although she didn’t contact him, someone must have done so. When he gets back home, she tells her father about what happened. Now both Reids want to know what’s behind this incident. They talk to the housemaid and at last convince her to introduce them to the man who knew about the crash before it happened. He is Jeremiah Tompkins, a man who is, as he sees it, cursed with being able to predict the future accurately.

Against his better judgement (and the maid’s warning), Reid begins to visit Tompkins regularly when he is faced with important decisions. As each of Tompkins’ predictions comes true, Reid believes in him more and more. Then comes the bombshell. Tompkins predicts Reid’s death on a certain night at midnight. Now everything changes, as Reid firmly believes that there is no way to escape his certain fate. If the prediction is correct, he’s got three more days, and Jean can no longer tolerate the stress; hence her decision to end it all.

Although he’s not fanciful, Shawn is drawn in by this story. He persuades Jean to come with him to the police department and involve his boss, who may have a better idea of what to do. When Shawn’s boss McManus hears the story, he immediately suspects that Tompkins may be trying to manipulate Reid, who is, after all, a wealthy man. So he gets a team of detectives together to look into the telegram, the other predictions, and the details of what is predicted about Reid’s death. Bit by bit, the team finds out about Tompkins’ and Reid’s backgrounds, and learns what may be behind everything.

In the meantime, Shawn does his best to protect both Reid and his daughter in order to prevent the tragedy that’s been foretold. As the time gets closer and closer, we see how each of them responds to the increasing sense of fear. We also see how McManus and his team try to uncover the truth before it’s too late.

This is a psychological study as much as it is anything else. So we see how Harlan Reid changes, even physically, as the time gets closer to his predicted death. We also see how the pressure affects his daughter. The fear of death and its inevitable approach have a strong impact. In that way, this is arguably a novel of psychological suspense, and the tension is built as the various characters react to the increasing psychological pressure.

Since there is a focus on psychology rather than on other things, the violence in the novel doesn’t ‘take the stage.’ It’s mentioned, but readers who prefer to avoid gore and a high ‘body count’ will be pleased that this novel has neither. It’s arguably a case of imagination being more powerful than actual reality.

The novel is also part police procedural. So we follow the police as they try to find out who is manipulating Reid before he’s killed. Is Tompkins also being manipulated? Is he an innocent pawn or is he a shrewd scam artist? Part of the trail leads to an itinerant circus, so the police investigate that as well. And that leads them straight into another murder investigation which may or may not be connected. As the police look into that death as well as the apparent threat to Reid’s life, we see the pragmatic reality of trying to prevent a murder.

There is an element of fatalism in the novel as well. Right from the beginning, Reid doesn’t want to believe that Tompkins’ predictions will be accurate; neither does his daughter. In fact more than once it’s clear that he’s hoping his decisions will turn out disastrously, just to prove that you can’t predict the future. The tone of the novel (it is a noir novel after all) is one of the inescapability of one’s fate; it’s a bit like watching two cars hurtling towards each other, knowing what will happen and being unable to prevent it.

That said though, readers who like prosaic solutions to their mysteries need fear not. There are questions left unanswered, but the case isn’t really solved by psychic power. It’s possibly more accurate to say that in this novel, we see the strength of psychology. The belief that someone can predict the future, especially when there is evidence that it may be true, can take a very strong hold.

Woolrich’s writing style is quite descriptive:
 

‘It was a short cut, a sort of branch trail, that left the main highway at about the Hughes farm and rejoined it again at mid-village. The main highway took a slight bend getting in, and this little trail ran straight. It was the string to the highway’s bow. It was tree-walled and bramble-blind and not very good, but it was the shortest line between two points.’
 

Readers who prefer straightfoward storytelling will notice this.

Night Has a Thousand Eyes is the story of what happens when a terrifying possibility takes hold. The story is told from multiple perspectives, and the ending, like the endings of most noir novels, is not a cheerful one. It has a strong thread of psychological tension and features a cast of characters who may or may not be trapped in their own inevitability. But what’s your view? Have you read Night Has a Thousand Eyes? If you have, what elements do you see in it?
 
 
 

Coming Up On In The Spotlight
 

Monday 27 October/Tuesday 28 October – The Dying Light – Alison Jospeh

Monday 3 November/Tuesday 4 November – The Suspect – Michael Robotham

Monday 10 November/Tuesday 11 November – A Duty to the Dead – Charles Todd

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Filed under Cornell Woolrich, Night Has a Thousand Eyes

An Open Letter to Frontier Airlines

NoFrontier

Dear Frontier Airlines:

I recently had my first experience on Frontier flights. It will also most emphatically be my last. Let me explain why.

First, when I visited your online site to check into my flight, I discovered that there is a US$30.00 charge for every carry-on, per flight. That was never mentioned when I originally purchased my ticket, and that alone seems deceptive. The bigger problem though is being charged for a small carry-on. I’ve flown on many airlines, to many different destinations. I’ve been on very long international flights, and short commuter flights. I have never been charged for one carry-on on any other flight.

This is the offending 'excess baggage.' For purposes of comparison, I'm just over 1.5m (5 ft) tall.

This is the offending ‘excess baggage.’ For purposes of comparison, I’m just over 1.5m (5 ft) tall.

What is more, the carry-on I had with me was regulation pilot-size, more than small enough to meet the requirements for carry-ons on your flights. Your baggage receipt labelled my small carry-on as ‘excess baggage.’ I do not regard one small pilot-size suitcase, plus my handbag, to be ‘excess.’

As though that fee weren’t enough reason to choose never to fly Frontier again, I had another unpleasant surprise when I boarded the flight. I discovered that Frontier charges for everything consumed on board, including water, coffee, tea and juice. The risk of dehydration during flights is not a trivial one; it is avaricious, penny-pinching and worse, heedless of passenger safety to charge for these beverages. That is especially true for passengers who must take medications with liquid. Again, I have been on a wide variety of flights, both very short and very long. Never, on any flight, have I been expected to pay for water or coffee. And again, this was not indicated when I purchased my ticket.

It might be one thing if this was just my own experience, but as it turns out, I am not alone in having serious problems with Frontier. A friend and his wife also recently took a Frontier flight. They discovered when the flight landed that the handle of their brand-new suitcase had been completely broken, so that the suitcase could not be moved. The Frontier representative with whom they dealt informed them that there would be no compensation for that damage, although it had happened while the suitcase was in the care of Frontier’s employees. The legalities of responsibility aside, it shows a serious lack of customer service that Frontier, through its representative, did so little to make this situation right. Something could, and should, have been worked out to satisfy these paying passengers.

Today’s airline customers have a number of choices. So, aside from safety, customer service and comfort should be top priorities for every airline. That is particularly the case for passengers such as my friend and myself, who travel regularly, and who willingly comply with all safety regulations and other airline policies. It is clear that Frontier regards neither customer service nor comfort as a priority.

Since I have choices, I will exercise them. Under no circumstances will I ever board a Frontier flight again. Further, I will strongly encourage my employer’s travel planner, who is responsible for most employees’ flight arrangements, to cease suggesting Frontier. This is a potential loss of hundreds of passengers, since I work for a large employer. I am also using all of the social media tools at my disposal, as well as word of mouth, to share my experiences. I hope that by doing this, I can spare as many people as possible the same difficulties I have encountered on Frontier.

Sincerely,

Margot Kinberg

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Gonna Climb a Mountain*

MountainsThe ‘photo shows one of the real natural treasures of Colorado – the US Rocky Mountains. Little wonder Colorado’s called the Rocky Mountain State, and Denver’s baseball team is the Colorado Rockies. The mountains are breathtaking, even from a distance. But of course, mountains can be awfully dangerous too, even if one’s accustomed to living in them. So it shouldn’t be surprising that there’s plenty of mountainous crime fiction out there. Space only allows for a few examples; I’m sure you’ll be able to fill in the gaps I leave.

Patricia Moyes’ Dead Men Don’t Ski introduces readers to Scotland Yard inspector Henry Tibbett and his wife Emma. In this novel, they take a trip to Santa Chiara, in the Italian Alps, where they stay at the Bella Vista Hotel. This hotel caters mostly to skiers, and it’s only accessible via a long ski lift. That ski lift becomes a crime scene when of the hotel’s guests Fritz Hauser is shot and his body found on one of the downward facing cars. Capitano Spezzi and his team take on the investigation, and when Spezzi finds out that Tibbett is with Scotland Yard, he gradually takes takes Tibbett into his confidence. Together they begin to investigate, and as they do, they learn that several people at the hotel have been hiding things. It turns out that there are several people who had a motive to murder the victim. Then there’s another murder. Now the two sleuths have to find out how those two deaths are connected.

In Craig Johnson’s The Cold Dish, Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming investigates the murder of Cody Pritchard. The victim’s body was found on public land, and there’s not much evidence at first to connect him with the murderer. Then, there’s another murder. Jacob Esper is shot by what appears to be the same gun. Now Longmire suspects he knows what may be behind these deaths. The two victims were part of a group of four young men who gang-raped then-sixteen-year-old Melissa Little Bird. All four got off with what many people thought was far too light a sentence. That fact, plus some of the evidence, suggests that the killer might be a member of the Cheyenne Nation out for revenge. If so, most people won’t be in a hurry to go after that person, and the killer could be planning to target the other two young men involved in the earlier crime. So Longmire decides to track them down and try to prevent more murders. That proves to be far more difficult than he thinks, and he and his friend Henry Standing Bear end up following the trail of one of them into the mountains. When a sudden storm comes up, they end up in as much danger from nature as from the killer.

Nevada Barr’s Track of the Cat is set mostly in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. US National Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon has been assigned to work at that park, and she’s settled into her job. One day Pigeon discovers the body of fellow Ranger Sheila Drury. She immediately reports the death and the police machinery is put into motion. It looks at first as though Drury was killed by a mountain lion, but Pigeon’s hoping that’s not so. If the news gets out that a mountain lion was responsible for killing a human, it’s likely that all of the other mountain lions in the area will soon become targets for the locals. And that might put the lion population in real danger, since many of the area’s residents are none too fond of them. Besides, Pigeon has noticed a few things that aren’t consistent with murder by a big cat. So she begins to ask questions about Drury’s death, and comes up against something going on at the park that’s bigger than she had imagined.

Sam Hilliard’s Mike Brody is a former Special Forces operative who now operates an extreme adventure company S&B Outfitters. Before their divorce, he and his ex-wife Jessica Barrett had arranged a holiday at Montana’s Pine Woods Dude Ranch. Despite the awkwardness, they decide to go ahead with that plan, hoping that it’ll be good for their son Andy. While they’re there, fourteen-year-old Sean Jackson disappears from the ranch, where he was staying with his family. It turns out that Sean witnessed the murder of David St. John, and he’s afraid that the killer might have seen him and might come after him. So he’s run off without thinking things through – straight into some very unforgiving country. Detective Lisbeth McCarthy has found out that Brody is in the area and asks for his help in tracking Sean before the killer, or the elements, find him.

And then there’s Anne Holt’s 1222. A group of passengers is en route by train from Oslo to Bergen when there’s a crash that kills the conductor. The passengers are rescued and taken to a hotel until arrangements can be made for them. Among those stranded by the crash is former police detective Hanne Wilhelmson, who simply wants to be left alone to live her life. But when there’s a murder at the hotel, she’s drawn into it very much against her will. Then there’s another death. And another. Now she’ll have to use her detection skills to catch the killer if there are to be no more murders.

There’s also Vicki Delany’s Under Cold Stone, which features Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. In that novel, Lucy ‘Lucky’ Smith and her partner Paul Keller (Trafalgar, British Columbia’s Chief Constable) decide to have a private getaway. Their plan is to take a trip to Banff, Alberta and enjoy the natural beauty – and each other’s company. Everything changes though when Keller’s estranged son Matt disappears. It’s not going to be easy to find him either, as he’s a very experienced camper who’s accustomed to outdoor life. What’s more, he could well be guilty of a murder that’s recently been committed, so he has to be found as quickly as possible. Lucky’s daughter, Constable Moonlight ‘Molly’ Smith, doesn’t have jurisdiction in the Banff area, but she goes there to be of whatever support she can to her mother. While she’s there, Matt Keller’s girlfriend asks her to find him and help clear his name. So Smith begins to ask questions. She soon finds out that the natural dangers on a mountain are far from the only threats to her…

So as you see, mountains are beautiful. They’re important parts of the ecosystem too, and they’re delightful holiday destinations too. But safe?
 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this song is a line from The Marshall Tucker Band’s Can’t You See?

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Filed under Anne Holt, Craig Johnson, Nevada Barr, Patricia Moyes, Sam Hilliard, Vicki Delany