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Beach Strip [Paperback]

John Lawrence Reynolds
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 8 2012

"I'd rather laugh in bad taste than cry in good taste."

That's how Josie Marshall deals with the death of her detective husband, Gabe, found naked outside their home on the beach with a bullet in his brain. Everyone calls it suicide. Josie knows it isn't . . . but fears it could be. After all, she had provided Gabe with a motive. The clues are so strong that even Josie begins to believe Gabe shot himself. But when a horrific slaying occurs literally at her feet, she knows Gabe was murdered, and her determination to prove it carries her toward dark corners of the beach strip and exposes the darker sides of its residents. Fending off her fears with humour and outrage, she encounters a drug-crazed drifter, an organized-crime boss with romance on his mind, a woman with a murderous past and a pervert who's been frequenting her garden shed. When a chance remark leads Josie to the astonishing truth of Gabe's death, her story takes a shocking turn that no one could have seen coming.


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Beach Strip + The Ambitious City + Erasing Memory
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Review

'John Lawrence Reynolds returns to the world of crime fiction with this terrific novel about a woman who refuses to believe that her husband committed suicide. It's witty, tense and gripping, and features a beautifully realized lead character in the shape of mouthy, stubborn Josie Marshall. The beach strip itself is a delight to wander, a character in itself.' - Peter Robinson, author of Before the Poison and Bad Boy 'John Lawrence Reynolds has created a micro-universe populated with characters that are real, sometimes tortured and always compelling. This is a great story, told by a great writer.' - Ian Hamilton, author of The Water Rat of Wanchai 'John Lawrence Reynolds delivers the goods and a sassy heroine pitted against gangsters, perverts and low-life characters in this superb murder mystery that never takes its finger off the trigger.' - John Farrow, author of River City and City of Ice

About the Author

JOHN LAWRENCE REYNOLDS is the author of more than two dozen works of fiction and non-fiction. He has previously written six mystery novels and is a two-time winner of the Arthur Ellis Award (for The Man Who Murdered God and Gypsy Sins). His many non-fiction books include Free Rider, which won the National Business Book Award, as well as The Naked Investor and Bubbles, Bankers & Bailouts. Shadow People, his bestselling book on secret societies, has been published in sixteen countries. A former president of the Crime Writers of Canada, he lives in Burlington, Ontario. Visit him at wryter.ca.


Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely novel Aug. 17 2013
Format:Paperback
Beach Strip has been chosen the 'One Book One Burlington' for this year; since I loved last year's choice so much, I decided to try it... and then I wasn't able to put it down until I was done :)

Beautifully written, with great humour and lovely descriptions of beach strip (a character in itself), with a story that's thrilling and beautiful (in some twisted ways) at the same time. I absolutely loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
After too long an absence, John Lawrence Reynolds, makes a welcome return to crime fiction with "Beach Strip" featuring a smart, determined protagonist, a murder plot with more turns than a coastal highway and enough shady characters for a crime noire festival. Josie Marshal refuses to believe her detective husband Gabe killed himself when his body is found naked on the beach strip behind their home with a bullet in his head. In spite of overwhelming evidence of suicide, Josie armed only with her belief in her husband and the sharpest wit this side of Dorothy Parker, sets out to prove that darker forces were responsible. The further she moves from light to dark, the more she discovers that the beach strip with its sunshine, cheery neighbours and daily bustle is much less than it seems. Having alienated the police force Gabe served and turning to a crime boss for help, Josie seems to have come to a dead end. Then, a eureka moment leads to pulling back the curtain on the truth behind Gabe's death. Reynolds brings Josie to life by channeling his character and skillfully telling the story in her voice. If you are a fan of well written, fast paced crime fiction that drags you into the action, then "Beach Strip" is a must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEACH STRIP: Murder in a forgotten place July 13 2012
Format:Paperback
BEACH STRIP: Murder in a forgotten place.

Far below the Burlington Skyway Bridge spanning the extreme western end of Lake Ontario sits a strip of lonely beachland with a respectable past, a seedy present, and a dodgy future. A fitting stage for the likes of John Lawrence Reynold's feisty heroine Josie Marshall, who struggles to find peace within herself after her beloved and respected husband Gabe, a police detective, is found stark naked and dead on their front lawn, a clear-cut suicide, according to the police.

She doesn't buy the police version; not initially. But she soon experiences a growing fear that her one small recent slip from respectability -- an affair -- just might have triggered Gabe's suicide after all.

As her comfortable life implodes into a black hole of misery, despair and guilt, bodies inexplicably begin to pile up, each new and violent death offering her clues that she eventually uses to heal herself and rebuild her world and her hope in the future.

If you are new to Reynolds, you will discover he is a master of atmosphere, character and plot. That makes for juicier, more satisfying murders! And if you are already a fan, no doubt you have already gobbled down Beach Strip, mentally awarded it the usual 5 stars, and are waiting impatiently for his next offering. May it come soon.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A trip on the Strip July 3 2012
Format:Hardcover
They say there is only one story, the journey to recapture what has been lost, to rise above pain, sorrow and death into light. Beach Strip, by John Lawrence Reynolds, is that story. It opens with Josie Marshall describing her home on the Strip, the stone steps her husband had built, the view to the east, the sun's cradle, and then toward the `devil's appliances', the steel mills of Hamilton at the western end of Lake Ontario, and finally of the naked body of her husband, stretched out on a blanket with a bullet in his brain. As she searches for justice for her husband, police detective Gabe Marshall, Josie travels from her own darkness to reclaim the love and light of their relationship.

In his return to mystery writing, Reynolds again pushes and pulls us along a twisted path filled with cops, gangsters and broken souls. The pacing is lively, the writing literate, with humour and thoughtful commentary easing the ragged edges of the human condition. It is a book you will read in a hurry but will remember at your leisure. John Lawrence Reynolds, a two-time winner of the Arthur Ellis (a hangman) Award for Best Crime Novel, is my brother-in-law. I grew up just a long walk from the beach strip.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every element of a great mystery... July 26 2012
By Dale Carter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
After too long an absence, John Lawrence Reynolds, makes a welcome return to crime fiction with "Beach Strip" featuring a glib, determined protagonist, a murder plot with more turns than a California coastal highway and enough shady characters for a crime noire festival. Josie Marshal refuses to believe her detective husband Gabe killed himself when his body is found on a blanket on the beach strip behind their home naked with a bullet in his head. Despite overwhelming evidence pointing to suicide, Josie, armed only with unshakable faith in her husband and the sharpest wit this side of Dorothy Parker, sets out to prove that darker forces are responsible. The further she moves from light to dark, the more she discovers that the familiar beach strip with its sunny gardens, cheery neighbors and daily bustle is much less than it seems. After alienating the police force Gabe served and turning to a crime boss for help, Josie seems to have come to a dead end. Then a casual anecdote sparks a thought that leads Josie to the truth behind Gabe's death. Reynolds masterfully brings Josie to life by telling the whole story through her voice. If you are a fan of well written, fast paced crime fiction that drags you into the action, then "Beach Strip" is a must read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Availability Oct. 4 2013
By Peter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent mystery novel, by an excellent author. John Reynolds works should be more readily available in the US. He has published over 30 fiction and non-fiction works
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely novel Aug. 17 2013
By Alicia Marinache - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Beach Strip has been chosen the 'One Book One Burlington' for this year; since I loved last year's choice so much, I decided to try it... and then I wasn't able to put it down until I was done :)

Beautifully written, with great humour and lovely descriptions of the town I call home, with a story that's thrilling and beautiful (in some twisted ways) at the same time. I absolutely loved it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return Oct. 25 2012
By Jim Napier, mystery & crime fiction reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Canadian novelist John Lawrence Reynolds first made his mark in crime fiction in 1989 with The Man Who Murdered God. He followed that with five more novels, in the process winning two Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Mystery Novel, among other honours. Now, after almost a ten-year spell of writing non-fiction, Reynolds has turned out a new novel, and he's lost none of his edge.

Gabe Marshall is a police detective, and after he and Josie have each put failed marriages behind them, they are trying to carve out a measure of happiness in a modest beach cottage on the shore of Lake Ontario that serves as their refuge from a troubled world. Or were, until one horrible evening when Josie returns home to find officers swarming over the site, marking off a grassy section of the beach with yellow tape, and inside that Stygian landscape, Gabe Marshall lying among the grass with a bullet in his brain.

Gabe's death seems clearly a suicide, and Josie's immediate thought is that somehow he discovered that she had been having an affair with one of his fellow officers. When her sister descends on Josie from Vancouver to give her support, she notices an expensive ring that Gabe had recently given Josie. It's way beyond what a policeman can plausibly afford. Josie is evasive, uncertain how Gabe had acquired it. Unspoken between them is the question, had Gabe been on the take, and was the ring somehow implicated in his death?

Despite questions from the investigating officers, and a media scrum that lays waste to her privacy, somehow Josie makes it through the next few days. When the bullet that killed Gabe is traced to his own gun, and paraffin tests reveal that he had fired the weapon, Josie still denies that it was suicide.

Refusing a departmental ceremony, she has Gabe's remains cremated, and takes his ashes past a nearby drawbridge to the canal to return them to the natural environment they both loved. She hears a man's voice telling her he knows what happened, but the drawbridge horn sounds, warning that the bridge is about to be raised, almost knocking her over with its force, and causing her to drop the box that had contained Gabe's remains. When she regains her senses the man is nowhere to be found. She returns home, and only later goes back to recover the box. Josie finds more than she expects: the remains of a man at the foot of the canal, his head crushed by the bridge's massive concrete counterweight. Was it a macabre accident, or did he really have something to tell Josie about her husband's death?

Before her quest is over Josie will fight a department that has made up its mind about Gabe's death, and be forced to enter the shadowy world of his work. While getting to the bottom of things she will grapple with a druggie that shows up at her front door and a prowler in her back yard, and she will confront a local crime boss who is either her worst enemy or a valued friend. And in the process Josie will learn that betrayal takes many forms, sometimes that of someone who is closest to us.

Reynolds is a seasoned professional, and it shows. Beach Strip is an engrossing read, with a strong sense of place and characters that are both believable and engaging. Nicely paced, with several twists and a storyline that will hold the reader's attention, it marks the welcome return of an accomplished writer to Canadian crime fiction. Let's hope there are many more such tales in the offing.

--Jim Napier, professional mystery and crime fiction reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book May 20 2014
By mary perley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great book the description of beach strip was so spot on. Lived here since 69 so loved the Hamilton baclground. Mr Reynolds spoke at a group I'm a member of he's also a great story teller.
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