Category Archives: Cathy Ace

He’s Got a Pretty Trophy Wife*

Whenever a wealthy person gets involved with a much younger person, all sorts of assumptions are made. She’s a ‘trophy wife,’ or he’s a ‘boy toy,’ only in the relationship for the money. And sometimes, that’s true. Certainly, it’s a stereotype that we hear a lot about in real life.

It’s there in crime fiction, too, and it can make for an interesting set of dynamics in a story. If there are children involved, there are all sorts of issues there. And even if there aren’t, there can be any amount of tension that comes from that sort of relationship.

Agatha Christie used those relationships in more than one of her stories. For instance, in both Triangle at Rhodes and Evil Under the Sun, the main plot revolves around a wealthy woman (Valentine Chantry and Arlena Stuart Marshall, respectively) who begins a relationship with a younger man. In both cases, the women are married to other people, so there’s tension on that score. And in both cases, there’s plenty of gossip about the romance. Christie also depicts that sort of relationship in The Mystery of the Blue Train. One of the characters in that novel is Lady Rosalie Tamplin. She’s married to her ‘boy toy’ husband, ‘Chubby’ Evans, and she does like him. Her daughter, Lenox, has this to say about him:

‘‘And Chubby now,’ said Lenox. ‘He is an expensive luxury if you like.’’

Lady Tamplin and her daughter get involved in a murder mystery when a distant cousin, Katherine Grey, comes to visit. During the train ride to Nice, where Lady Tamplin lives, Katherine meets a woman who is murdered the next night. Hercule Poirot is also on the train, and he works to find out who the killer is.

Cathy Ace’s The Corpse With the Silver Tongue introduces readers to her sleuth, Catlin ‘Cait’ Morgan. Originally from Wales, she lives and works in Vancouver, where she teaches criminology at the University of Vancouver. When a colleague breaks some bones in a bicycle accident, she agrees to take his place at an upcoming symposium in Nice, where she will deliver his paper. The presentation goes well enough, but trouble starts when she happens to encounter a former employer, Alistair Townsend. On impulse, Townsend invites her to the birthday party he’s having for his ‘trophy wife,’ Tamsin, that evening. At first, Morgan refuses. But Townsend won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and before she knows it, Morgan’s agreed to go. At the party, Townsend suddenly collapses and dies of what turns out to be poison. Since Morgan is the only ‘outsider,’ and since she had good reason to dislike the victim, she becomes a ‘person of interest.’ Partly in order to clear her name, she starts to ask some questions. It turns out that more than one person had a motive for wanting Townsend dead.

In Teresa Solana’s A Not So Perfect Crime, we are introduced to Barcelona PIs Eduard Martínez and his twin brother Josep “Pep” (who prefers to be called Borja). They may be twins, but they have very little in common. Eduard, for instance, is happily married to his wife, Montse. Borja, though, is not so interested in marriage. As the novel begins, he’s happy being ‘kept’ by his wealthy lover, Merche. So, he gets to drive a good car, get his hair done at the best places, wear an expensive wardrobe, and so on. The main plot of this novel concerns Lluís Font, a prominent Conservative politician who suspects that his wife, Lídia, is being unfaithful. He hires the Martínez brothers to follow her and see if she is, indeed, having an affair. They find no evidence of that, but not long afterwards, Lídia is poisoned. Now, Font becomes a murder suspect. He hires the brothers to stay on the case and clear his name. Borja’s personal life isn’t the reason for the murder. But it’s an interesting layer of his character, and it’s one of many ways in which he and Eduard are different.

In Surender Mohan Pathak The Colaba Conspiracy, Jeet Singh has determined to leave behind his safecracking/lockbreaking past. He’s got a legitimate business now – a Mumbai kiosk where he makes and sells keys. One day, he gets a call from a former confederate, offering him quite a lot of money if he’ll do a job. Singh refuses outright; he doesn’t want any more to do with crime and the police. He wavers a bit, though, when an old friend, Gailo, asks him to go in on a job. This one will be quite lucrative, and Singh feels that he owes Gailo. Still, he says ‘no’ at first. Everything changes when Singh gets a visit from a former lover, Sushmita. Since they ended their relationship, she’s married wealthy Pursumal Changulani, a man who’s much older than she is. Her status as a ‘trophy wife’ certainly hasn’t endeared her to Changulani’s children. But matters get much worse when Changulani is killed. At first, his death looks like a carjacking gone wrong. But evidence has come up that suggests that this was a pre-planned murder. If so, then someone hired the person who committed the crime. And the police suspect that that someone was Sushmita. Changulani’s children claim that he was never legally married to Sushmita, so she has no claim on any of his money. Until that matter is settled, she has no access to his fortune, so she asks Singh’s financial help, so she can hire a lawyer. This is enough to push Singh into accepting the job Gailo offered. It’s also enough to get him mixed up in a murder case. When the police begin to suspect that he was working with Sushmita, Singh knows he’ll have to find out who the real killer was if he’s going to clear his name.

Late Addition

There’s a really interesting ‘trophy wife’ character, Katrina Barksdale, in Paul Levine’s Solomon vs Lord. When she is accused of murdering her husband during some kinky sex, Miami attorney Steve Solomon wants very much to defend her. There’s a major fee for him if he does. But he’ll need the help of Victoria Lord, a new attorney who’s as opposite to Solomon as it’s possible to be. It’s a very interesting case that gives an inside look at the ‘trophy wife/older husband’ relationship.

‘Trophy wives’ and ‘boy toys’ can bring all sorts of complications into a crime story. That plot point can add character development and suspense, so it’s little wonder we see it in the genre. These are just a few examples. Your turn.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Del McCoury Band’s Forty Acres and a Fool.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Cathy Ace, Paul Levine, Surender Mohan Pathak, Teresa Solana

Still Trying to Clear My Name*

One of the tropes we see in crime fiction is the plot point where the sleuth is accused, or at least, suspected, of the crime that’s under investigation. It’s not easy to pull off, since readers know that the sleuth is not likely to be guilty (and didn’t Agatha Christie turn that one on its head!).

When it’s done well, though, having the sleuth suspected of crime adds tension to the story. And it gives the sleuth an added incentive to investigate. This trope turns up in all sorts of crime fiction, too. Here are just a few examples.

In Agatha Christie’s Death in the Clouds (AKA Death in the Air), Hercule Poirot is on a flight from Paris to London when one of the other passengers, Marie Morisot, suddenly dies of what turns out to be poison. The only possible suspects are the other people in the cabin, so Chief Inspector Japp concentrates his attention on them. It’s not spoiling the story to say that Poirot isn’t guilty. But at the coroner’s inquest, he’s considered quite a suspicious character, and the jury returns a verdict against him. The coroner doesn’t accept the verdict, and Poirot is at no risk of being arrested. But, as he says,

‘‘…I must set to work and clear my character.’’

And that’s exactly what he does.

In Simon Brett’s What Bloody Man is That?, Charles Paris gets a new acting job – a ‘play as cast’ part in the Pintero Theatre’s upcoming production of The Scottish Play. One day, rehearsals go particularly badly, and the entire cast goes out to drown their sorrows. Paris comes back to the theatre afterwards, quite a bit the worse for wear, and falls asleep there. He wakes up just after three in the morning, to find that he’s been locked in to the building. And then he finds the body of Warnock Belvedere, who had the role of Duncan. Paris knows that things don’t look good for him. He’s innocent, but he doesn’t expect the police to believe him. So, he avoids them as much as he can, for as long as he can. He also starts looking for the real murderer, so he can clear his name. It’s not going to be easy, though, as just about everyone in the production had a reason to want the victim dead.

In Michael Robotham’s The Suspect, we are introduced to psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. When the body of a former patient is pulled from London’s Grand Union Canal, Inspector Vincent Ruiz investigates. As it happens, O’Loughlin was close to the scene when the body was discovered. And the victim is someone he knew. So, Ruiz asks for his help in finding a possible motive. But the more evidence he finds, the more it seems that O’Loughlin knows more than he is saying about this murder. Then, there are other murders, and O’Loughlin is implicated. Now, he’s going to have to find out the truth and persuade Ruiz of it if he’s to clear his name. And that truth turns out to be very dangerous.

Denise Mina’s Maureen ‘Mauri’ O’Donnell begins with Garnethill. In it, O’Donnell wakes up one morning after a long night of drinking. She discovers the body of her former boyfriend, Douglas Brodie, in her living room. It’s not long before she comes ‘a person of interest,’ and then an official suspect, in the case. For one thing, there’s the obvious: the body was found in her home, and she can give no explanation. For another, she’d recently found out that Brodie was married. And then there’s the fact of her fragile mental health. She knows that the police aren’t going to believe she’s innocent, and that she’ll likely end up in prison. So, she decides to find out who the killer is, so she can clear her name.

When we first meet her, in The Salaryman’s Wife, Sujata Masesy’s Rei Shimura is an antiques dealer and expert who lives and works in Tokyo. She also teaches English to help make ends meet. She decides to treat herself to a New Year’s holiday at a traditional B&B near Shiroyama, in the Japanese Alps. All goes well enough until the morning when Shimura discovers the body of Setsuko Nakamura, one of the other guests. Captain Jiro Okuhara is assigned to the case, and he and his team begin their work. Shimura is a ‘person of interest’ to begin with, since she discovered the body. And Okuhara isn’t entirely convinced that her account of what happened is really the truth. Still, there are several other suspects, and Shimura isn’t immediately accused. Soon, however, another guest, attorney Hugh Glendinning, is. In fact, he’s charged with the crime. He says he’s innocent, and Shimura wants to believe him, not least because she is attracted to him. Partly to clear her own name, and partly to clear Glendinning’s, if he is innocent, Shimura starts her own search for the truth. And it turns that search is a lot more dangerous than she’d thought.

And then there’s Cathy Ace’s The Corpse With the Silver Tongue, which introduces her sleuth, Caitlin ‘Cait’ Morgan. She’s a criminologist and academician who teaches at the University of Vancouver. When an injury leaves a colleague unable to deliver a paper at an upcoming symposium, Morgan takes his place. The symposium is in Nice, so she’s looking forward to the trip. While she’s in Nice, she encounters a former employer, Alistair Townsend. Townsend remembers her, and invites her to his wife, Tamsin’s, birthday party. Morgan doesn’t want to attend, since her relationship with Townsend was not at all a pleasant one. He insists, though, so she finally agrees. During the party, Townsend collapses and dies of what turns out to be digitalis poisoning. Captain Moreau and Lieutenant Bertrand take over the investigation. Morgan is the only ‘outsider.’ She had no regular access to the victim (and so, would take advantage of an event like the party) and has made no secret of the fact that she hated him. So, the police pay a fair amount of attention to her as a likely suspect. Mostly to clear her own name, Morgan starts asking questions, and finds that plenty of people had a good reason to want Townsend dead.

Being accused of murder can add a strong motive for the sleuth to investigate. And it can add tension to a story. There are plenty of examples in the genre; these are just a few…


*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Chris Rea.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Cathy Ace, Denise Mina, Michael Robotham, Simon Brett, Sujata Massey

Who Knows Where it Will Lead Us?*

Sometimes, authors set the scene in one novel for what’s going to happen in the next. This often (but not always) happens in a series, where the author wants to lay the proverbial groundwork for another story or novel.

It’s tricky to give such hints. For one thing, readers don’t usually like stories to end with real cliffhangers. Most readers want some sense of resolution to the main plot. For another, changes can happen, even in a series, and even where the author has planned future novels. Creating a context for the next novel, when that novel might change, is risky. But, when it’s done well, that sort of groundwork can be an effective segue between novels. It can also invite readers who enjoy a novel to try the next one, too.

In Agatha Christie’s short story The Double Clue, Hercule Poirot is called in by antiques collector Marcus Hardman. It seems he hosted a tea party at his home, and during the party, showed his guests some precious jewels he’d collected. Later, his safe was rifled and the jewels went missing. There are only four suspects, and Poirot uses two clues in particular to find out who the thief is. One of the ‘people of interest’ in this story is Countess Vera Rossakoff, a refugee from the Russian Revolution. Poirot finds himself quite impressed with her. In fact, this is what he says about her to Hastings:

‘‘A remarkable woman. I have a feeling, my friend – a very decided feeling – I shall meet her again. Where, I wonder?’’

He does, in The Big Four.

In Stuart Kaminsky’s Bullet For a Star, 1940s Hollywood PI Toby Peters gets a new case. Someone’s blackmailing film star Errol Flynn over a very compromising photograph taken with a young girl. The blackmailer threatens to go the press with the photograph unless Flynn pays. Producer Sid Adelman has decided to pay, rather than risk that sort of publicity, and he wants Peters to be ‘the go between.’ All Peters needs to do is hand over the money, get the photograph and negative, and return them to Adelman. Peters agrees, but during the exchange, someone attacks him, steals his gun, and shoots the blackmailer. The photograph and negative are stolen, too. Now, Peters has to find out who the killer is (since his own gun is involved, and he’s a suspect). He also has to find the photograph and negative. In the end, and after another murder, Peters finds out the truth. At the very end of the novel, he gets a call from another star, Judy Garland, who has another case for him. That lays the groundwork for the next novel, Murder on the Yellow Brick Road.

As Simon Beckett’s Written in Bone ends, forensic anthropologist David Hunter faces physical and mental trauma as a result of the case he’s investigating. This lays the groundwork for Whispers of the Dead. At the beginning of that novel, he’s decided to get out of London for a while as a way of dealing with that trauma. He opts to spend some time at Tennessee’s Anthropological Research Laboratory, also known as the Body Farm. His plan is to do some research, spend some time getting well, and connect with his mentor, Tom Liebermann. Very soon after Hunter’s arrival in Tennessee, a decomposed corpse turns up near a disused cabin not far from the lab. Hunter finds himself drawn into the case, and it’s a wrenching one.

Cathy Ace’s The Corpse With the Silver Tongue introduces her sleuth, Caitlin Morgan. Morgan is a criminologist and academician who teaches at the University of Vancouver. Occasionally, she also consults with the Vancouver Police. When a colleague breaks some bones in a bicycling accident, Morgan is asked to take his place at an upcoming symposium in Nice. It’s just a matter of going to the symposium and delivering her colleague’s lecture, so she agrees. Besides, it’s a beautiful location for a symposium. At first, all goes well. Then, by chance, Morgan meets up with Alistair Townsend, a former employer. He insists that she attend the upcoming birthday party he’s having for his wife, Tamsin, and there’s really no way for Morgan to back out of it. She’s extremely reluctant, because her relationship with Townsend wasn’t a pleasant one. But she finally agrees to go. At the party, Townsend suddenly collapses and dies of what turns out to be digitalis poisoning. In part because she’s a suspect, and in part because she wants to finish this trip and go back to Vancouver, Morgan starts to ask questions. In one sub-plot of this novel, Morgan gets very concerned about her friend, Bud Anderson, a detective with Vancouver’s Integrated Homicide Bureau. He seems to be facing a serious problem, and she tries to help. The main plot in the novel, the murder of Alistair Townsend, is resolved. The sub-plot, though, leaves open the possibility for more development in future novels, and that’s exactly what happens. It’s an interesting way to move to the next novel in the series, but at the same time, resolve the main plot.

And then there’s Paddy Richardson’s Hunting Blind. That’s the story of Stephanie Anderson, who’s just beginning her career as a Dunedin psychiatrist. When she gets a new patient, Elisabeth Clark, things don’t go well at first. She can’t seem to connect with Elisabeth, and they don’t make much progress. Then, Elisabeth tells her that, years ago, her younger sister, Gracie, was abducted and never found – not even a body. This story is eerily similar to Anderson’s own past. Seventeen years earlier, her younger sister, Gemma, also went missing and was never found. Anderson decides to lay her own ghosts to rest and try to find out who was responsible for both abductions. She returns to her home town of Wanaka, where she hopes to get some answers. Along the way, she is faced with a personal choice, and at the end of the novel, she makes that choice, and it lays the groundwork for a further novel. I hope we see that novel at some point.

It’s not an easy task to use one novel to build a context or provide a motivation for another. But when it’s done well, it can be effective. And it can build interest in that new novel.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul’s Audition (The Fools Who Dream).


Filed under Agatha Christie, Cathy Ace, Paddy Richardson, Simon Beckett, Stuart Kaminsky

I Thank the Lord I’m Welsh*

Wales is a beautiful country with a unique language, culture, and history. And, in the last few decades, there’s been a concerted effort to maintain that culture and teach that language. As you’ll know if you’ve lived there, or even been there, it’s a bilingual country (it’s been officially so since 1998).

But, if you read crime fiction, you’ll soon see that Wales isn’t exactly a peaceful, crime-free place. And it’s interesting to see how the country and its people are portrayed in the genre. Space doesn’t permit more than a quick peek at a few examples; I’m sure you’ll be able to add others.

One of Rhys Bowen’s series takes place mostly in the fictional Welsh town of Llanfair, in Snowdonia. These novels (there are ten) feature Constable Evan Evans, who was originally from Llanfair, but moved to Swansea as a child. When he gets fed up with life in the city, he decides to move ‘back home,’ where he’s now sometimes known as ‘Evans the Law,’ to distinguish him from others with the same surname. He re-acquaints himself with life in the small town in Evans Above, the first novel in the series. But it doesn’t turn out to be nearly as idyllic a life as he had imagined it would. This is a small-town series, but it’s not a ‘frothy,’ light series. Among other things, it shows how social changes such as immigration, culture clash, family structure changes, and so on don’t affect just the larger cities. They even find their way into small villages.

In The Earth Hums in B-Flat, Mari Strachan introduces readers to twelve-year-old Gwenni Morgan. She lives in a small Welsh village in the 1950s, and is just on the cusp of coming of age. Gwenni’s a creative thinker; some people call her a dreamer. She’s certainly not obsessed with clothes, boys, or an active social life. Everything in Gwenni’s life changes when one of the town’s residents, Ifan Evans, goes missing, and is later found dead. For various reasons, Gwenni wants to find out the truth about his death, so she starts to ask questions. As she searches out the truth, she also makes some life-changing discoveries about her own family. Strachan’s second novel, Blow on a Dead Man’s Embers, also takes place in a small Welsh town, just after World War I.

Babs Horton’s A Jarful of Angels has two timelines. One begins in 1962, in an isolated Welsh village, and is the story of four children: Lawrence ‘Fatty’ Bevan; Elizabeth ‘Iffy’ Meredith; Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Tranter; and William ‘Billy’ Edwards. These children don’t have much in common, but there aren’t a lot of other children in town. So, they spend their share of time together. During one eventful summer, they slowly begin to learn some of the town’s secrets, including some things that several people would much rather no-one find out. The other timeline begins some forty years later, when retired detective Will Sloane decides to return to his native Wales. He knows he doesn’t have a lot longer to live, and he wants to spend his last days in his own country. More than that, he finds a clue that’s related to mystery he was never able to solve. A child went missing, and was never found. Sloane was on the team that investigated, and everyone made efforts to find the child, but they had no success. Now, with this new clue, Sloane is hoping he can finally get some answers. As the children’s story moves forward, and Sloane’s backwards, we slowly learn how these children are connected to the secrets people are keeping. We also learn how all of that is related to Sloane’s investigation.

There’s also Cathy Ace’s WISE Enquiry Agency series. This series, in the traditional whodunit style, features four women (one Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish, and one English) who set up an investigation agency. The stories mostly take place in the Welsh town of Anwen by Wye.

One of Elizabeth J. Duncan’s series features Penny Brannigan, who emigrated from Nova Scotia to the small Welsh town of Llanelen, where she lives now. She’s the owner of the Happy Hands Nail Care shop, and as such, gets to hear a lot of what’s going on in town. And, because it’s the sort of place where everyone knows everyone, she knows most of the town’s residents. This is a lighter, cosy, series, but it’s not ‘frothy.’

Just in case you were wondering whether all Welsh crime fiction takes place in small towns and villages, think again. Stephen Puleston, for instance, has two crime fiction series. One of them features Inspector Ian Drake, and takes place in North Wales. The other is set in Cardiff. This series features DI John Marco of the Queen Street Police. These novels are sometimes-gritty, fast-paced thrillers, rather than the more traditional-style whodunits.

And I couldn’t do a post about crime fiction set in Wales without mentioning Hinterland (AKA Y Gwyll). This noir television drama takes place in Aberystwyth, and stars Richard Harrington as DI Tom Matthias. One of the interesting things about this particular show is that it’s actually filmed twice: once in English, and once in Welsh. And even in the English version, there are occasional (subtitled) Welsh words and comments.

There are, of course, lots of other mentions of Wales and of Welsh characters in crime fiction. For instance, Ellis Peters’ most famous sleuth, Brother Cadfael, is Welsh. In fact, his Welsh identity plays a role in more than one of the novels in this series. And Cathy Ace’s other sleuth, Caitlin ‘Cait’ Morgan is also Welsh, although she now lives in Canada.

Wales may not be a large country. But it’s got a rich, long history, and a language and culture of which its people are proud. And it certainly features in crime fiction. Which crime novels set in Wales have you enjoyed?

ps. Thank you,, for the lovely ‘photo!


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Catatonia’s International Velvet.


Filed under Babs Horton, Cathy Ace, Elizabeth J. Duncan, Ellis Peters, Mari Strachan, Rhys Bowen, Stephen Puleston

So Hoist Up the John B. Sails*

voyagesOne of literature’s very interesting plots is what Christopher Booker has called the voyage and return. Booker’s work has its critics, but it is interesting to see how journeys (whether figurative or literal) can change people. We certainly see this sort of structure in crime fiction, and that makes sense when you consider all of the things that can happen on a voyage, no matter how you conceive of that term.

For example, there’s quite a literal voyage and return in Agatha Christie’s The Mystery of the Blue Train. After ten years of service as a paid companion, Katherine Grey inherits a fortune when her employer dies. She decides to use some of the money to travel, and chooses Nice as her destination (she has distant relatives who live there). As she’s taking the famous Blue Train through France, she meets wealthy Ruth Van Aldin Kettering, who has her own reasons for taking the train. During the trip, Ruth is murdered, and Katherine is drawn in to the case. Hercule Poirot is taking the same train, and he works with the police to find out who killed the victim and why. Katherine returns to her village of St. Mary Mead, and takes up another position, but she’s not the same person as when she left. As Poirot points out, she’s no longer an onlooker to life; she takes an active part in it.

Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time features fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone. He has autism, although he’s high-functioning, and is quite accustomed to a certain routine in his life. One day, he discovers that the dog belonging to the people next door is dead. Its owners think he’s responsible, but Christopher knows he isn’t. So, he decides to be a detective, just like Sherlock Holmes, and find out the truth. The trail leads him to several unexpected places, and when he returns, he’s not the same person he was. He still has autism, but he has discovered several important things about himself.

H.R.F. Keating’s Inspector Ghote’s First Case serves as a prequel to his series featuring Mumbai police detective Ganesh Ghote. In this novel, Ghote has just been promoted to the rank of Inspector. His supervisor asks him to travel to Mahableshwar and look into a case of suicide on behalf of a friend. It seems Robert Dawkins’ wife Iris killed herself, and he (Dawkins) wants to know why. Since Dawkins is a friend of Ghote’s boss, Ghote feels he has no choice but to look into the matter, although his wife, Protima, is about to give birth to their first child. So, he goes to Mahableshwar and begins to ask questions. He finds that there are reasons for which Iris Dawkins might have wanted to take her own life. Still, the clues don’t add up, and Ghote slowly begins to believe that she was murdered. Now, he has to work out who is responsible. He discovers the truth, and gains some confidence in himself along the way. When he returns to Mumbai, we see that he’s done some maturing, and has a different relationship with his boss than he did at the beginning.

Cathy Ace’s The Corpse With the Silver Tongue is the first of her novels to feature Caitlin ‘Cait’ Morgan. In that novel, Morgan travels from Vancouver, where she teaches at the university, to Nice. There, she’ll attend a symposium and deliver a paper on behalf of a colleague who’s had an accident and can’t travel. One afternoon, she’s at an outdoor café when she has a chance encounter with Alistair Townsend, a former employer. Among other things, he persuades her (mostly against her will) to attend a birthday party he’s hosting for his wife, Tamsin. During the course of the party, Townsend suddenly collapses and dies of what turns out to be poison. The French police investigate, and Morgan finds herself one of the suspects. Mostly to clear her own name and be free to return to Vancouver, Morgan begins to ask questions. Each in a different way, Morgan and the police work to find out who killed Townsend, and they have several suspects. In the end, Morgan discovers the truth and goes back to Vancouver. But she’s not the same person she was at the beginning of the novel. And we see that this experience will change her life in more ways than she thought.

Sandy Curtis’ Deadly Tide is the story of Samantha ‘Sam’ Bretton. Her father Allan ‘Tug’ is the owner of a Brisbane-based fishing trawler called Sea Mistress, and the Brettons depend on the income that comes from good catches. Tug is suspected of murdering Ewan McKay, a deckhand from another trawler. He claims he’s not guilty and Sam believes him. But he’s under a cloud of suspicion. What’s more, he broke his leg in the incident surrounding McKay’s death. So, he can’t take Sea Mistress out. After some effort, Sam convinces her father to let her skipper the trawler in his place. Meanwhile, Brisbane cop Chayse Jarrett has been assigned to find out the truth about the McKay murder. He goes undercover and gets a job as deck hand on Sea Mistress, hoping to find out whether Tug Bretton is guilty of murder, and whether he might be connected to the drugs smuggling trade. The trawler goes out, with both Sam and Chayse looking to catch a killer. And the experience changes both of them. It turns out that McKay’s murder is connected with a much bigger case than it seems on the surface.

And then there’s Paddy Richardson’s Hunting Blind. Newly-minted psychiatrist Stephanie Anderson gets a new client, Elisabeth Clark. At first, they don’t make any progress together. But very slowly, Elisabeth starts to talk about herself. And Stephanie finds that her client’s story is hauntingly similar to her own. It seems that years ago, Elisabeth’s younger sister, Gracie, was abducted. No trace of her was ever found, and the experience scarred the whole family. Stephanie lost her own sister, Gemma, seventeen years earlier in a similar way. When she hears Elisabeth’s story, Stephanie decides to lay her own ghosts to rest. She travels from Dunedin to her home town of Wanaka to try to find out who wreaked so much havoc on her family and on the Clark family. Stephanie does find the answers she’s seeking. She also goes through some real personal changes.

And that’s the thing about some voyages. They can take people to places they hadn’t imagined. And they almost always change the voyager.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the traditional Bahamas folk song, The John B Sails. You might be familiar with the Kingston Trio’s recording of it, or that of the Beach Boys.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Cathy Ace, H.R.F. Keating, Mark Haddon, Paddy Richardson, Sandy Curtis